How To Let Go Of…Whatever It Is You Want To Let Go Of, Really.

How To Let Go Of…Whatever It Is You Want To Let Go Of, Really.

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(…or, at the very least, how to get started.)

Doesn’t it sound sexy and badass to say what you’re STOPPING, QUITTING, or LEAVING BEHIND?

I know it does. I’ve done the whole dramatic deal before: written down the things I’m leaving behind, crumpled them up, burned them in a fireplace. Heck, I even took an “anger” themed spin class once.

But it’s not that simple.

We‘re all human – living not just our high highs and low lows but a whole full spectrum of experience every day. Change is never as easy as leaving something behind and never looking back. No matter how mindful you are, it’s very likely you’ll inevitably be confronted with or fall back into an old pattern you thought you were done with. You’re human — which means you’re gonna fall into human patterns and feel human emotions in your life, no matter what. Surprise!!

What’s more likely is what happens to 80% of us: we take that (kinda inevitable?) one step back, then turn on the shame and blame. We tell ourselves we’re “so bad,” we messed up, we’re a failure, we can’t do this, so on so forth blah blah blah.

And that makes total sense. The moment we create ultimatums in our minds is the moment we set ourselves up for shame and self-doubt in the long run.

Social media accounts love to catch your attention with declarative statements about what you should stop doing, leave behind, or let go of.

Notice where the focus is?

To be clear: I get fired up over those “stop doing XYZ” posts on social media, too. It feels good to feel seen!

But whether it’s a thought, a feeling, a belief, a situation, a person – I always try to remind myself:

 

I’m letting go of something in order to make space for something else SPECIFIC.

Because the thing is: the second you STOP, QUIT, or LEAVE BEHIND…what’s gonna fill that space?

 

When I coach people to let go of something – a thought, a feeling, a belief, a situation, a person – I always try to frame it so that they’re letting go of it in order to make space for something else SPECIFIC. If you don’t know what you’re fighting for, you’re most likely going to end up right back where you began with what you’re fighting against…if only because it’s familiar.

Instead of directing your focus toward what you don’t want and calling it a day, try this more productive and proactive formula instead:

I am letting go of (how something affects you or why you do what you do)
So I can (what that thing holds you back from doing)

Here are some examples…
    • INSTEAD OF “I will stop putting others before myself.”
    • TRY “I will let go of my need to please others, so I can make room for myself.”
    • INSTEAD OF “I am leaving behind toxic people.”
    • TRY “I am letting go of excusing bad behavior at my own expense, so I can live out MY journey exactly as it’s intended to unfold.”
    • INSTEAD OF “I will quit negative self-talk.”
    • TRY “I am letting go of my limiting beliefs, so that I can feel confident and grounded.”

Also…notice this formula doesn’t say you’ll always do/feel/be that thing you say you’ve been held back from doing/feeling/being. The point isn’t to find a formula that’s going to be a guarantee, because (as you probably know) there aren’t any guarantees in life. Life loves its curveballs.

The point is to shift your focus.

The point is to make space AND THEN define what you want that space to hold.

The point is to state clearly: this is what I want, this is what I’m willing to fight for.

Burn your regrets in the fireplace if you want. Make a dramatic statement if it feels good. But make sure you do this, too. Just know that you’re a person in progress – and your life will be one long loop of letting things go and picking things up along the way.

You might not get to choose what enters your world, but you sure as hell can choose what you do with it.

 


WANT Yourself: 
What are you letting go of, and what are you making space for?

 

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Giving Selective F***s.

Giving Selective F***s.

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**Heads up: this post about people-pleasing, being defensive, and setting boundaries contains mature language, specifically, f***, a lot. I know we don’t censor our language on the WANTcast and WANT site, so you’re probably used to it, but I feel like the amount today is more than usual, so wanted to give you a heads up should you have eyes reading over your shoulder that you don’t want to see it :)**

 

Let me just tell you what happened in the elevator.

First, let’s set the stage. It’s hot. It’s humid. The air in NYC today feels like it’s about 96% humidity and that humidity is made up of sticky orange juice or something. All I want to do is get upstairs, turn on the AC, sit on my couch with my dog, and write this to you.

I’m also feeling fired up from a business meeting I had with myself over AM coffee, and am feeling way more focused and streamlined than I have in a while.

I walk into the elevator and there’s a man already in there who’s heading upstairs. Another man walks in.

I immediately feel a vibe from the first man — I can’t tell if it’s an “I’m starved for small talk after a pandemic” vibe or an “I’m gonna try and flirt with you” vibe, but either way, I don’t like it at all (sans a few neighbors over the years who have become extremely close friends, the second I walk into my home, I am a VERY private person. I don’t want to small talk — let alone be hit on).

“How is it out there?” the first man asks.
So hot. Like, 9 million percent humidity. I make the mistake of answering.

I can see him looking at my torso and I feel uncomfortable. The second man gets out of the elevator and I contemplate going with him. I wait too long and the door closes, me and Man #1 alone together. I realize he’s not looking at my torso — he’s looking at my WANT tote bag.

“Women Against Negative Talk,” he reads out loud.
Then he starts laughing.
“Is that a joke?”

🤨

Thank goodness I was still wearing my sunglasses, because I have zero game face and I’m pretty positive my eyes were shooting daggers.

No. It’s my business.

(If you could’ve seen his face drop. Lemme tell you, if he’d had any intention of hitting on me, his plans were definitely foiled.)

What happened next surprised me a little, though.

“What does that mean? ‘Negative talk’?” I could sense he was genuinely asking.
Negative talk like negative SELF-talk.
“What’s ‘negative self-talk’?”

Now, as someone who obsesses about our internal narrative and self-told story 24/7/365, it always blows.my.mind. when I realize not everyone knows what self-talk is. I mean, they DO know what it is — we all experience it — they just don’t know it has a name.

And so I explained it to him.

Self-talk is your internal narrative. Negative self-talk is the stuff you say disparagingly about yourself. It can be along the lines of self-doubt, fear, shame, whatever. For example, “I’m not good enough.”

He nodded a little. “Oh — I thought it meant talking negatively about others.”

Still unclear as to what the joke would’ve been…

(Side note: it’s always interesting to me when someone’s first association with “negative talk” is others-focused — gossip or bad-mouthing others — vs. self-focused.)

Anyway. I give an obligatory laugh and “Oh, that too!” which I immediately regret for its fakeness but then realize it’s just what I’m doing to help myself feel safe again, so I cut myself a break.

He goes to get out of the elevator, chuckling. “Good luck with your business!”

The door closes. Scene ends. And my face probably looked something like:

So, this is important:

His exit laugh was most likely reflexive — a laugh out of embarrassment, or trying to lighten the situation.

But it could’ve very well been because he thought it was a stupid concept, or a stupid name for a business, or that he didn’t take me seriously.

 

But I’m not sharing this story because his words affected me.
I’m sharing them because they DIDN’T.

 

Story after story exists of people who didn’t take The Greats seriously. Teachers who thought Einstein wouldn’t get anywhere. Producers who doubted Oprah could “make it” on TV. From athletics to academics, there’s a story of “Look who’s laughing now!” from superstars in every field.

A lot of times, the takeaway is: You need to not care. Don’t give a fuck what anyone has to say.

And I think this is actually really dangerous.

~

I, personally, don’t subscribe to a “No Fucks Given” attitude — even as a highly sensitive person and recovering people-pleaser. You’d think that it would’ve been my way out, right? My go-to catchphrase to shield me from Other People’s Opinions and make me Other People-Proof — right?

But the thing is, that never felt right to me.

 

Because not giving any fucks isn’t about setting a boundary.
It’s about building up walls.

 

Life isn’t meant to be lived on the defensive. I’m not a sports person, but I can’t think of ANY sport that’s solely about playing defense (and yes, I know I’m now mixing my metaphors). If you’re constantly shielding yourself from whatever comes your way, how can you score a goal? If you’re constantly playing defense, what happens to the people on your team who want to help you out?

As someone who doesn’t only care what other people think, but cares EXTREMELY deeply, building up walls and playing constant defense feels like a fight against my truest nature: the part of me that desires connection, collaboration, and community. I don’t want to build up such tall walls that I block out important perspectives.

And so I reject not-caring.

Instead, I get clear on what matters to me, who matters to me, and why the ones that matter to me, matter to me.

I know I will not be for everyone, and I know that everyone will not always agree with me. They might think I’m too enthusiastic, or complex, or “a joke,” like the guy in the elevator. But those are probably not the people who matter most to me, anyway.

So if you’re like me, listen up. This recovering people-pleaser, highly-sensitive introvert emotional sponge is here to tell you:

I give a fuck.
I most certainly give a fuck.
I just give selective fucks.

 

Because living life on the defensive is no way to live. Like Glennon Doyle says, “No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck—no woman is that cool—she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up.”

 

 

4 Negative Self-Talk Shifts To Try (That You’ll Actually Believe)

4 Negative Self-Talk Shifts To Try (That You’ll Actually Believe)

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“Good vibes only.”
“Only speak kind words to yourself.”
“Tell yourself you can do anything.”

Nope, these don’t work for me either.

 

Real talk: Replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk might not work for you if the words you’re speaking aren’t believable in the first place. Research has shown that if you don’t already feel that great, repeating a happy-go-lucky phrase might actually make you feel worse than you already do. In one 2009 study, “psychologists Joanne V. Wood and John W. Lee from the University of Waterloo, and W.Q. Elaine Perunovic from the University of New Brunswick, found that individuals with low self-esteem actually felt worse about themselves after repeating positive self-statements.” [Association for Psychological Science]

Self-talk isn’t inherently good or bad, it’s information. It’s the emotional lens we cast over that information that determines what we do with it (or how we verbalize it to ourselves). That’s why I don’t shame myself even MORE when I start to say something mean to myself: I know there’s real information somewhere in there, and other truths that are present. I just might have to slow down and lean in to figure out what they are.

 

So if replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk doesn’t work on its own, what DOES?

When your negative self-talk starts to flare up, get curious. Look for alternate truths in the situation — proactive ones you already believe.

When your negative self-talk starts to flare up, get curious. Look for alternate truths in the situation — proactive ones you already believe. Click To Tweet

These are some recent helpful ones for me, so being the millennial I am, I thought I’d make a save-able, shareable graphic for you in case they’re helpful for you too:

negative self talk

Screenshot this list, add to your bookmarks, and try them out. Don’t forget to tell me how it goes in the comments or in the DMs on Instagram (I’m @katiehorwitch over there).

And remember:

It’s not about stopping.
It’s about shifting.

 

 

Mental Health Toolkit: How To Balance Self-Care and Community Care.

Mental Health Toolkit: How To Balance Self-Care and Community Care.

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I just got home from a trip to LA where I got to see my family — parents, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, grandparents, aunts, uncles….some of whom I hadn’t seen for over two years (which is very out of the ordinary for me).

My grandparents, who are thriving in their 80th decade, were an especially special visit. They’re a part of the WANT community, too. You might even be reading this right now because they sent you a link to sign up. They’re definitely reading this right now (hi, Nana and Papa Ronny!).

As some of WANT’s biggest superfans, they always love asking about not only my work, but about YOU.

They can’t believe how many amazing human beings I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, virtually or IRL, because of WANT. They want to know how we find each other, how we know each other, where you’re from, what it is you love, everything.

It’s pretty incredible that we’re able to talk the ins and outs of a career and community that primarily exist in the digital space without missing a beat. (My grandfather was actually the very first person to introduce me to The Internet back in 1990/91 — any of my ’80s-millennials-and-older remember Prodigy?!) They understand what I do, they understand how we connect…

…and, they understand the immense amount of energy it takes to be your own boss, publicist, creative director, editor, assistant, and team.

(kidding with this one. kinda. while i love and honor my weekends most of the time, i also sometimes get into habits of working too often during them and end up feeling very much like this.)

 

A few months back, I shared with you a post I wrote about creating a Joy Tab — a list of things to help you turn the focus back on your self after being others-focused for so long.

When I shared it, I got so many of you sending emails to me, echoing what I’d expressed in my post: I’d been so caught up in trying to be of service to others over the last few months, that the only “self-care” I was doing was the stuff that would just keep me afloat.

Sleep. Water. Movement. Food.

I, and you, needed to get back in touch with what was needed on a solo level.

Fast forward a few months, and I found myself in the exact opposite position.

I had gotten so self-focused that I felt disconnected from others.

On a personal level, I leaned so heavily into self-care that I began to fear the absence of it (a faint echo of the old disordered tendencies of my 20s, ones I do NOT want to ever go back to).

On the professional level, I felt such intense anxiety (as the one building, navigating, and steering her own ship) that I’d spend my days spiraling about work I was stressed about, spend my nights staying up mega-late finishing the work I spent the day stressing about, and wake up completely wiped the next day.

And the cycle would repeat.

What I realized is that this time around, I didn’t need a Joy Tab to help me focus on myself. I needed a Connection Tab to help me focus back on others.

Because here’s the thing:

As humans, we aren’t meant to be fully self- or others-focused.

You can tell just by practicing a fake conversation with yourself: imagine talking to someone and all you say is “I, me, mine, my”…..or, on the flipside, you deflect any question about yourself and only say “you, yours, they, theirs.”

It feels icky, right?

That’s because when you only focus on ONE, you either create distance between you and others, or between you and your SELF.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and while I believe it’s an important conversation at ALL times, it’s particularly important this month of this year, when we’re actively creating a new normal that’s ACTUALLY new…instead of the old patterns that weren’t working in the first place.

A healthy human, in relationship with herself OR with others, is meant to have balance when it comes to what and who gets our attention. We must practice self-care and community care.

And so, as a Mental Health Awareness Month gift, I created a free SELF-CARE + COMMUNITY CARE (or JOY TAB + CONNECTION TAB) Toolkit just for you. Click here to download it.

One last thing about my time with my grandparents.

During the course of our lunch together last Wednesday, during a trip in which I was so thrilled to put my self-focus on pause for a few days and soak in some community-focused time, my grandfather asked me a question: How do you decide to write the things you write, and speak about the things you speak about? (my Papa Ronny is the master of open-ended questions.)

I laughed as I told him: 

“I wish I had a more exciting answer to give you, but the truth is, it’s just how my chatty, highly sensitive brain works.”

A few days later, upon reflection, I now think that’s just one part of the answer.

Yes, my brain is always going a mile a minute and always has this “Clarissa Explains It All”-style monologue going on (with the volume all the way up).

But the other part of the equation is YOU. 

I don’t believe I am alone.
I don’t believe any of us are.

Maybe I’m the one with this specific platform and this specific voice, but my experiences are NOT unique. 

I know this because of talking to you. Reading YOUR posts on social media. Emailing YOUR inbox and DMing back and forth on YOUR platforms. Learning from YOUR words. What my chatty, highly sensitive brain tells me is so similar in many ways to what your chatty, highly sensitive brain tells you.

But/and, different.

And THAT is why we should not, cannot, and MUST not ever be 100% self-focused or 100% others-focused, and why we must create systems and strategies for ourselves to regain a unique-to-us balance of the two when we lean too far in one direction or the other.

Because both focuses have important lessons to teach us, questions to ask us, and ways to relate. We will not find every answer we need in others. And, contrary to a lot of pop culture self-helpy advice, we will not find every answer we need in ourselves either.

The key is curiosity.

Sometimes we need to get curious about ourselves; sometimes we need to get curious about others.

But make no mistake: there is gold both inside and outside us all.

How To Be Fearless. (plus…we’re on CNN!)

How To Be Fearless. (plus…we’re on CNN!)

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FEARLESS = FEAR < FAITH (or, “Fearless” is when the fear is less than the faith) was an equation I stood behind long, long before this past year.

But March 2020-March 2021 made me realize how vital it truly is to maintaining a sense of self-assuredness WITHOUT abandoning your very real responses to very real crises.

That’s why when CNN asked me “What’s a lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic that could help women in the year ahead?” my answer was a no-brainer.

True fearlessness is when the fear you have of a situation is less than the faith you have in YOURSELF.

I’d never advise anyone to write over their fear. That’s not how to be fearless. Whenever I hear people say things like “I choose not to live in fear,” I take a deep breath. Not only is that phrase one of my biggest spiritual bypassing/self-gaslighting pet peeves, it makes me so sad to think that somewhere down the line, whoever is saying that phrase has been made to believe that fear is not only a choice, but a “wrong” choice that must be locked away.

Lowering your fear is super hard for a reason. Fear is like an inner security guard: it just wants to keep you safe.

But upping your faith in yourself? That’s a different story.

Fear and faith can/should coexist. It’s what can help do everything from take the next smallest proactive step forward, to not giving up on yourself, to just getting out of bed in the morning.

I have faith that…

…I can brush my teeth.
…I can cook myself a meal.
…I can write something that means something.
…I can think and feel deeply.
…I can gift myself a good night’s sleep.

These are the types of things that have gotten me through my darkest days over the last year. Seriously.

Every tiny thing you have faith in – notice it. It counts. List out the reasons you already have to have faith in who you are. And slowly, the fear-to-faith scales start to tip from the fear over to the faith. That’s what can actually make a difference in the long run, and make you believe there’s more out there for you than just fear alone.

WATCH IT HERE.

BIG BIG gratitude to CNN for including me in this campaign alongside some of my role models, like Padma Lahkshmi, Malala Yousafzai, Lori Gottlieb, and more. 

Also grateful for what’s an important thought-starter for us all:

What are some lessons you’ve learned over the last year that could help others – or future YOU – navigate the year ahead?

 

The Joy Tab.

The Joy Tab.

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You:
How Are You, Really?

Me:
Last Saturday I hit a breaking point. Or whatever you want to call those moments these days where it just all feels like too much and not enough simultaneously. A vortex of feeling. A black hole of numbness. No tears though. Vortexes suck up tears and numbness doesn’t cry.

I confided to Jeremy that I felt as if the only times I’m truly happy lately are when I’m 1- singing, 2- running, or 3- all doing something together as a family unit (walking, drinking coffee on the couch, watching a movie). All the other times felt…anesthetized. This, I said, made me so sad. Not the feelings themselves (or lack thereof), but the ratios.

And he said: well that makes sense. You’ve spent almost an entire year just focused on how you can help everyone else. It makes sense that the things that fill you up are when you’re totally and completely self-focused.

Oh.

It’s true. Since March 2020, I’ve been switched onto Helper Mode. Personally and professionally. This is not a complaint. Rather, a recognition. My work is completely focused on helping other people through their tough stuff. Always has been. My personal motto (or one of them, along with such phrases as “don’t not give a fuck, just give selective fucks”) is one passed down to me by my high school theater teacher; that whenever you walk into a room the first thing you do is ask “what can I do to help?” Heck, it’s even in my astrological chart and Human Design and enneagram and all that stuff. Being of service is in me on a cellular level. And as entrepreneur Gloria Atamno says, it’s not always an easy task to separate the change you wish to make and what you actually carry the responsibility for – especially for those who feel like it’s their life’s assignment and calling to make that change.

All this focus on others honestly wouldn’t be as much of an issue if I was doing more than the bare minimum to keep mySELF afloat – which is exactly what I’ve been doing. I’m usually someone whose energetic balance is worked into her daily life. It’s not just happenstance – I’ve spent almost two decades carefully crafting my days when and where I can to make sure I get solo time amidst the cacophony that is life. I thought ‘d figured out my formula.

But without commutes, social plans, small talk with the barista at the coffee shop, random trips to the drugstore (because I’m sure I need something, I’ll think of it later), and the predictable everydayness that was life before March, I’ve been way off balance for far too long. My scales (Libra here!) have been askew for almost a year.

~

A healthy human, in relationship with herself OR with others, is meant to have balance when it comes to what and who gets our attention. We’re not MEANT to be 100% self-focused or 100% other-focused constantly – we need to be both.

And yet the last year has held many of us in one lane or the other:

Maybe you’ve been SELF-focused: doing things to keep yourself decent, hopeful, and well – tipping the scales toward the Self not because you’re arrogant or believe others don’t deserve these things too, but because you feel the most primary and urgent needs are your own. If you don’t take care of yourself, there’s no way you can take care of others. A beautiful sentiment besides the fact that, while feeling decent, hopeful, and well, you also end up feeling lonely and disconnected from others.

Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve been OTHER-focused: doing things to keep others decent, hopeful, and well – tipping the scales toward the Other not because you believe you’re undeserving of these things yourself, but because you feel the most primary and urgent needs are out there in the community and world. We create the world we want to live in. A beautiful sentiment besides the fact that, while feeling decent, hopeful, and well about others, you also end up feeling burnt out and disconnected from yourself.

I do NOT want to tip the scales so far in one direction that I lose sight of the other, nor do I want to dim or blur my focus on others just to give myself some TLC. Again, keeping my Others-focus sharp is important to my DNA. I just need to sharpen my focus on myself in the meantime.

So what’s helping me (or at least what I HOPE will help me this month, I’m still working on this) is keeping a JOY TAB.

A list of 10 blank boxes and fill-in-the-blank spaces, to-do list style, to check off per week with things that bring ME joy. A list of suggestions and Common Joy-Bringers at the top, then space for me to fill in the blanks.

Maybe you’re the opposite, though. You feel like you’ve spent so much time and energy isolated and trying to keep yourself satisfied/decent/hopeful/well that you rarely do anything that truly connects you to others in a way that feels meaningful to you that helps you focus on others AS you continue to focus on yourself.

For that I’d suggest the same convention, but with a twist. A CONNECTION (or COMMUNITY or SERVICE TAB (pick the word that feels right to you). 10 blank boxes and fill-in-the-blank spaces, to-do list style, to check off per week with things that serve someone else or connect you with others.

I picked 10 per week because I like the idea of more than one thing a day. I personally need a lot more Self-oriented joy in my life. Also, I didn’t assign a specific number per DAY because I slip. Some days I don’t do anything that brings me joy that’s all my own — but days are long, so if I skip a day, I can surely find something to do to double up on another day. This ALSO makes me feel less guilty for spending “time on myself” when the guilt bug starts to bite (again – for you the feeling might be different).

Want your own Joy and Connection Tab templates? Click below to download:

To be honest with you, I stopped asking people “How Are You” long ago. Because I noticed that the default answer is usually “fine.” Even when people aren’t. We’re so pre-programmed to hear THAT question and give THAT answer that when people actually want to know how we are, we end up dismissing a chance for real connection, real emotion, and just real REALness beyond the perfunctory response. “Fine,” to me, is an answer you give when you give when you don’t want to talk about something. Or when you’ve had so many people in your past try to fix you that you just don’t want to get into it. Or, more commonly, an answer you give as a courtesy to someone else you figure is just asking you How You Are because it’s the polite thing to do. Nice, not kind.

And that, to me, is a shame. That we’re so used to equating the question “How Are You” with something either negative or obligatory that we just give the easiest answer that’ll stop the conversation soonest.

So, yeah, I’m not fine. And no, you don’t need to try and fix it. Because since I’m able to identify why exactly it is that I’m not fine — because I know your heart, and I trust that when you asked me How Are You, Really you actually wanted to dive into the deep end with me — I feel confident in being able to move through it. I’ve been here before, I’ll be here again. What’s going to make this time different?

 


WANT YOUR SELF:
What are some things that bring you JOY? What are some things that make you feel more CONNECTED TO others?
Can you make these suggestions for your future-self to take advantage of, for those times you’re looking to balance your scales?