My To Don’t List

A few weeks ago I was texting with my mom and she mentioned that she’d started making a “To Don’t” list. Since I’m always intrigued by contrariness I asked her to explain. “Instead of making a list of things ‘To Do’ that feels weighty, I’m making a list of things not to do.”

At first I thought a list of don’ts sounded restrictive, like a bunch of rules I’d better notย break…or else. The first things that popped into my head were things like, “Don’t be so annoying.” ” Don’t eat so many sweets.” “Don’t just blurt out the first thing that pops into your head because you’re so uncomfortable in social settings.” To me, this sounded like one more list of things to fail at and then feel guilty about the failure.

“I’ve got one,” I texted my mom. “Don’t tell friends with new babies how I really think their kids look.” (Like angry potatoes, for the record. I even found this meme that agrees with me).


“Don’t bite random babies cheeks at the grocery store,” she shot back.

“Don’t lick all the cookies and then put them back on the plate.”

“Don’t pick a wedgie with frosting on your fingers.”

We came up with lots of sage advice, but eventually my mom shared some of the things that are actually on her list, things like,ย “Don’t shy away from challenges,” and “Don’t forget how far you’ve come,” and I started to understand what she meant. Her list wasn’t so much about actions, but about attitudes. I love that because I passionately believe that what’s going on in your head and in your heart matters. So I’m making my own list.

To Don’t:

  • Don’t let other people steal your joy. It’s yours. No oneย gets to take it from you.
  • Don’t waste time worrying about things that are outside of your control. If it’s outside of your control, then what possible good is your worrying going to do?
  • Don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes. You’re not perfect. Your husband isn’t perfect. Your friends and your family aren’t perfect. Only God is perfect. Don’t expect yourself to be God. Nobody else is expecting you to be either. Actually, they are super happy that you’re not.
  • Don’t call yourself names. If you wouldn’t call someone else fat or ugly, then don’t call yourself that either.
  • Don’t forget that you are loved. Wholly. Unconditionally. Forever. (Deal with it, Shame)
  • Don’t take responsibility for things you aren’t responsible for. You are responsible for yourself and for how you treat the people around you. You aren’t responsible for other people’s responses or actions. Even if they try to convince you that you are, you aren’t.
  • Don’t compare yourself to other people. You are you. Who you are and where you’re at in life is unique to your background, your personality, and your choices. Comparing will only make you feel prideful or dissatisfied. Just do you.
  • Don’t forget to say thank you, for everything, always.
  • And of course, Don’t Stop Believin’. (I know, I know, but it was right there!)

What’s on your To Don’t list?


  1. When I started reading I had the same thought you had… setting things to fail, but when you shared your mother’s list then I understood and I like your list… these are good items! I used the one about not comparing yourself and understanding you’re not perfect as one of the techniques to overcome self-doubt and depression as I mentioned in this post:

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. I absolutely agree that it matter what is going on in your head and heart. I love your first “To Don’t” Not letting people steal your joy. On your third bullet point I had a soft chuckle when you wrote about people actually being glad you aren’t God, so true!


  3. Reblogged this on tiffany ackermann and commented:
    I love what Lily is proclaiming with her words through writing. This is a great “To Don’t” list leaving space for everyday grace and keeping a good attitude. Because, it does matter what you head and heart are saying.


  4. I absolutely don’t hate your post. Your To Don’t list is not a bad idea. Now I have to not stay at home any longer. Because the post office isn’t open. Your blog always doesn’t make me not smile.


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