Be your best self.

When Things Don’t Add Up You Need To Start Subtracting

When Things Don’t Add Up You Need To Start Subtracting
Carly Jacobs

When things don’t feel right, our knee-jerk reaction is often add something to our lives.

Have you ever felt a little down in the dumps and spontaneously joined a social netball team with a non-refundable deposit? Decided to throw an enormous party and invited everyone on a day when you feeling low and then regretted it the next day? Or decided on a Saturday night when you were bored to sign up for an online coding course at Harvard?


Yep. Me too. There’s this uncontrollable desire in us doofus humans to drastically alter our lives, especially when we’re at a crises point. You know like when you cut your own fringe after a breakup or book an Eat Pray Love style trip to Bali that you can’t afford.

So if things are feeling a little off for you at the moment, trying subtracting instead of adding things to your life. Here are a few things you can start with.

1. Drama

Quick and dirty tips – Keep opinions about coworkers to yourself, keep secrets, keep your voice at an even volume, apologise when you know you should. I hear you… gossip is kind of great… for about 5 minutes. Then it’s awful and leaches nasty, yucky feelings everywhere. Best to avoid it like a fart cloud someone dropped at the supermarket.

Want more?

5 Toxic Behaviours You Need To Ditch Today 

2. Toxic friendships/relationships (like with family members)

This one might need management rather than total subtraction. As much as we wish we could eliminate when it comes to family that can be problematic. So subtract instead. Subtract the amount of time you spend with them, subtract how much you give them and subtract how much control they have over your life.

Want more?

7 Signs Your Friend Might Be Toxic

3. Alcohol

This doesn’t have to be a blanket ban but just be mindful. Try to have alcohol on fewer days than you DO have alcohol, make most of your catch-ups not revolve around alcohol, avoid drinking alone.

Want more?

 How To Give Up Alcohol Without Actually Giving It Up 


4. Processed foods

Again it doesn’t need to be a blanket ban but remember, wherever possible and practical JERF – Just eat real food. If you can’t pick it, catch it, grow it or raise it’s not real food.

Want more?

5 Bad Habits You Need To Break In 2019 

5. That story you keep telling yourself

You know the one that you’re hopeless, or that you lack discipline, or that you could never do that thing. We are all a bundle of self-fulfilling prophecies and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, those stories have a huge impact on what we do and how we feel. So if you’re finding it difficult to make something happen, something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, or if you’re finding yourself feeling bad about yourself, try and identify the stories you’re telling yourself about yourself. Because you might need to do something about those stories before you can move forward.

Want more?

7 Stories We Need To Stop Telling Ourselves

6. Consumption 

I’ve actually been experimenting this week because I use my phone as a boredom crutch and I do waste a lot of time on it so I’ve been uploading Instagram in the morning for 20 minutes then delete it, then doing the same thing in the afternoon. I record any stories on my phone during the day and upload them in my 20-minute window. It’s a game-changer. I also put my phone on charge when I put my daughter to bed and I don’t use it again until the morning except to text people. It’s been awesome. I only Facebook and email on my computer.

Want more?

5 Ways To Break Your Phone Addiction 

7. Debt

There’s no such thing as good debt unless it’s in the form of a house. Almost everything else is too risky, will depreciate or isn’t worth getting into debt for like holidays and clothing.

Want more?

5 Money Problems You Need To Stop Avoiding 

8. Clothes that might fit one day 

Just get rid of it. It doesn’t serve you to have clothes in your cupboard that don’t fit you.

Want more?

The 5 Things In Your Wardrobe You REALLY Need To Chuck Out 


9. That thing you committed to

Start small with this. It’s best not to leave people high and dry but if pulling out of dinner isn’t going to affect the host and it’s going to make your anxiety calm down, do it. And once you’ve reduced your commitments and you have all this beautiful white space on your hands, resist the urge to re-commit to a bunch of things again.

Want more?

How To Back Out Of That Social Commitment Without Looking Like a Jerk 

10. People pleasing

People-pleasing seems innocuous enough but it’s actually a sign of low self-worth. Yikes. People-pleasing seems like a rather lovely thing but if you let it go untethered it can get out of control, so make sure you keep an eye on it.

Want more?

5 Steps To Stop People Pleasing 

11. Clutter

If you haven’t used something in over a year, you probably don’t need it. Avoid buying single-use items (the kitchen is notorious for these!) and beware of impulse shopping.

Want more?

How To Throw Things Away Like a God Damn Grown Up 

12. Overthinking

Honestly? I’m not even close to nailing this one. I overthink EVERYTHING. For real. If I’m having a particularly anxious day I can convince myself that a client is about to fire simply because she didn’t send an emoji when she last texted me. Yep, some days I’m an utter basketcase. Here’s an article I read about overthinking and promptly ignored. I hope it’s more helpful for you.

This week’s episode of Straight & Curly is all about subtracting things from your life rather than adding them. You can listen here or on your favourite podcast app.

What things do you think you need to subtract from your life?

P.S Also you should totally sign up for my newsletter. It’s full of cool stuff.
P.P.S Don’t forget Crochet Coach has a free trial offer period at the moment so make sure you sign up!

1 Comment

  1. lauraclarke0102 7 months ago

    Great read! I love the idea of subtracting rather than adding when life gets overwhelming. It’s a refreshing perspective that aligns well with the concept of minimalism. Your point about the story you keep telling yourself particularly resonates with me. It’s like a form of overthinking that we often overlook. Speaking of which, the article on how to overcome overthinking by Productive Fish ( offers some useful strategies that could complement your tips on subtracting these negative elements from your life. ?

Leave a Reply