On Addition by Subtraction

addition by subtraction by Em Capito, LCSW

addition by subtraction by Em Capito, LCSWWhere do I need to say no, to be able to say yes?

A favorite open inquiry prompt from my annual planning process is addition by subtraction.

If you’re like me, you have a lot of ideas. Ideas about adventures, learning, hobbies, service, business…

Turns out, there is a correlation between how much television I watch in the evening and what I accomplish (as just one of many examples!).

Open inquiry is about nonjudgmental curiosity. There are no right answers to any of the questions, because there’s always another layer.

In this instance: If I subtract weekday television, I can put X more hours toward <big intention>.

Is that really true?

If we don’t peel back the next layer, we often fail to achieve our desired outcome.

We tend to set unrealistic, quick-fix resolutions based on beliefs like: I will cut out all television for 2022! Done! Book deal, here I come!

If it were quick and simple to change, we’d all be happy, fit, and wealthy.

Where do I need to say no, to be able to say yes?

Do I need to subtract some stress or get better sleep to add energy in the evening?

Do I need to subtract morning commitments so I can work on what matters first thing?

If I am realistic about my intention, what will I need to sacrifice to obtain it?

Do I feel motivated to let go of the status quo, or have I discovered that this is an outdated or externally-motivated intention that isn’t actually mine?

Perhaps the intention itself is what needs to go?

Peel the layers without judgment, just open curiosity and a willingness to be brutally honest with yourself.

It’s okay if you end up embracing television over a book deal.

If that’s your authentic conclusion, you mine as well recognize that sooner and enjoy your evening wind-down guilt-free rather than needlessly carrying around a heavy dream that belongs to someone else.

In the end, either way, we are empowered to say a wholehearted YES.

Free resources and support, every Friday: