We Always Have Permission

I recently had one of my busiest days ever. Several commitments, and the demands that came along with them needed to be responded to; all seemingly at the same time.

Even though I was able to fulfill those commitments, as the day continued to pass, I noticed that I had not yet taken a moment to eat. I had one more appointment left that day, but I was running late so I decided to keep moving.

The last appointment of the day was with my supervisor for my Social Work Licensure.

After I finished debriefing my busy day, I pointed out that although my lunch was with me the entire time, I hadn’t had a moment to eat it. After a bit of silence, my supervisor asked,

“Why don’t you just eat now?” 

I hadn’t thought of that. The question was so simple, yet so profound.

I was so caught up in the busyness of that day and the things I had to accomplish that I didn’t take the moment to consider myself, to consider the space I was in at the moment and what that space was for.

Before that question knocked me out of auto-pilot I had viewed our time that particular day as another thing on my list that needed to be completed.

Why don’t you just eat now?”

Being honest with myself I came to the conclusion that I didn’t feel like I could; that those other demands and needs were more pressing and important.  However, the question in itself was liberating for me at that moment because it was helpful to me in a couple of ways.

First, it created space that I didn’t have that day for me to really acknowledge the level of stress I was experiencing, and second, it helped me to slow down and remember that I am most helpful to others when I have had time to tend to myself.

Some time later I came into contact with someone else whose day was going similar to the one I had experienced previously. With my own reminder still fresh in my mind, I was also able to make a connection and ask them a question that provided a similarly liberating experience.

Sometimes, we can become so wrapped up in what we might be doing, or in what others might need, that we can neglect ourselves in the process.  We always have permission to take care of ourselves, but sometimes we might forget.

I’m grateful for the times where I can help others remember, and even more so for the people who are there to remind me as well.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW, LLMSW



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Written by

I’m a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities.

“Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian” is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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2 Responses

  1. I like this reminder to take care of me — that when I take the time to give myself time first for self-care, I am in a better space to help others take care.

    Thanks Relando!

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