Give Yourself Permission

Hans AppelBlog, Connect Better, Self Care Better, Teach Happier


  • Give yourself permission to put yourself first and value self-care, wellness, and social emotional learning.
  • We need to be courageous in our P.A.S.S.I.O.N.—pause, assess, space, speak, insight, open, knowledge.
  • Empower yourself to follow through on your BEST INTENTIONS to show up for YOU.  

“It’s important to take a daily temperature of your heart.”

– Diana Patton, Inspiration in My Shoes

Teaching is hard work because at its core, teaching is HEART work. Plain and simple.  And learning to meet our student’s needs means we must first take care of ourselves.  Those of you who have heard me speak or read my book, Award Winning Culture, know that I overcame childhood trauma and abuse to eventually chase my own JOY.  Finding my way to a successful path meant uncovering “Life’s Breadcrumbs” to help me make sense of the chaotic road.

Giving ourselves permission isn’t about stepping on the people we love, serve, and support. It's about adding oxygen to our flame of influence to be even BETTER. Click To Tweet

I remember after one particularly raucous night, my mom was settling into the kitchen to find something to make me for dinner.  She dug around the fridge, pushing back tears and heartache, frantically grabbing items to throw a last-minute sandwich together.  While self-clarity frequently followed my witnessing or experiencing these domestically violent episodes, I instantly became enamored by an unusual item I’d literally never thought twice about before.  

Sitting outside the fridge on the left side of the countertop was my mom’s sweet tea.  I’m sure I had smelled the raspberry flavored goodness for years.  On an unconscious level, I knew where my mom’s jug of tea rested each day but on a conscious level, I had never paused to question the out of place item.  Why would her tea oddly be kept on the counter when all other beverages resided in the cool fridge?

Have you ever passed by something a million times without ever noticing it? Then all of sudden you can’t help but see it through inquisitive eyes?   

How come you drink warm tea?” I questioned my mom.

What do you mean?” she responded as she multitasked sandwich prep with indulging the rabbit hole of curiosity from her 9-year-old son.

You keep your tea outside the fridge. Wouldn’t you rather put it in the fridge so it’d be cold?” I suggested.

There’s not really room for it with everyone’s else’s drinks: juice, pop, beer, etc.,” she explained.  

But don’t you prefer your favorite tea to be cold?” I pestered.

Yeah, I do. But no one else drinks tea and it seems silly to move things around just to accommodate me,” she said as she handed me a perfectly diagonal wedge of ham sandwich. 

Taking a bite, I said, “Well…I think it’s time to give yourself permission to enjoy COLD sweet tea.”  

Moms will quickly identify with this story. But the truth is, as educators we often put others’ needs far before our own.  Prioritizing our own wellbeing, mental and physical health, and self-care can feel like an afterthought through our tinted kids-first lenses.

This week on the Teach Better Team Private Facebook Group’s LIVE BEST INTENTIONS series, social justice advocate, TEDx and keynote speaker Diana Patton reminded us that living a life full of BEST INTENTIONS is about getting clear with our purpose, our daily morning routines, and our emotional resilience as “our work should outlast our human existence.”  When thinking about our legacy though, she reinforced to us that the best way to teach social-emotional learning is to model it in our everyday actions.

Eliminating the “identity gap” between who we are on the inside and who we portray to the world is about making time to get real with ourselves.  

Time management might be a first step to squeezing moments for gratitude, hope, and deep reflection. But ultimately, we must give ourselves permission to be the most important character in our own story.

Diana, who’s the author of Inspiration In My Shoes, specializes in empowering women, inspiring educators, and teaching young people around the world to become CharacterStrong advocates in their own lives.  When met with emotionally intense adversity, difficult conversations, or injustice, Diana argues that we need to be courageous in our P.A.S.S.I.O.N.

  • OPEN

“Courage in the face of fear is contagious.”  

Diana Patton

Self-care is often closely tied to physical activity, healthy eating, and managing home/work balance, and rightfully so.  But Diana’s message resonates with me because she pushes past culturally acceptable outlets into reimagining the words and actions we use with ourselves and others.  And coming on the heels of a year highlighted with the pandemic, social injustices, and educational inequities, isn’t it time for us to create a culture of self-care in all aspects of our world?  #TeachersDeserveIt   

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Age provides a powerful perspective on how much we each deserve to intentionally build in these tiny joyful moments.  Shortly after the divorce of my parents, I remember learning a profound unintentional lesson upon arriving at my mom’s new apartment.  As a young person, I was ALWAYS hungry and I immediately made a beeline for the kitchen.  Popping open the fridge, I began poking around in search of a delicious snack when something caught my eye in the back left corner on the top shelf.

It was a small jug of sweet tea.

I instantly swung my head around to make eye contact with mom. YOU GAVE YOURSELF PERMISSION!” I celebrated with a big smile.

I think it’s finally time to put myself first,” she beamed.

Give Yourself Permission

I think the kind words we choose to tell ourselves transform into the light that we reflect onto our learners.  Hey educators! It’s time to put OURSELVES first!  

Giving ourselves permission isn’t about stepping on the people we love, serve, and support.  It’s about adding oxygen to our flame of influence to be even BETTER.

Isn’t it time for educators to RISE UP and give ourselves permission to value self-care, wellness, and social emotional learning?  This week, empower YOURSELF to follow through on your BEST INTENTIONS to show up for YOU.  

Intention Better.  Teach Better.

About Hans Appel

Hans Appel is an educator, speaker, and writer deeply committed to inspiring the whole child. He’s the author of, Award Winning Culture: Building School-Wide Intentionality and Action Through Character, Excellence, and Community. Additionally, he’s the Director of Culture for the Teach Better Team, co-host of the Award Winning Culture podcast, and the Co-Creator of Award Winning Culture.

Hans is also a member of the Teach Better Speakers Network.