Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

I’m Giving Up Numbers for Lent: How Rankings Distract Me and Drive Me Crazy (Crazier, That Is)

numbers 2.jpg
I’m giving up numbers for Lent, yes I am. 

I will not step on the scale first thing in the morning (ranking no. 1). I will not check out my ranking or read any new review of my book, Beyond Blue. I will not find out my rankings for the new one, The Pocket Therapist. I am not going to check out how my posts are ranking on Psychcentral or the Huffington Post. I will not keep track of how many Facebook friends I have, how many people are following me on Twitter, or how many people have, for whatever reason, removed me from their friend list or dropped me from Twitter. I will not look at my weekly statistics for my blog. I will pretend for a few 24 hours that I don’t care which blog post brought me the most traffic, what sites are linking to me, and which gallery piece did best (like, for example, “15 Ways to Stop Obsessing!”).


I am giving up numbers and all ranking systems for 40 days, when I shall, just like Moses, wander aimlessly through the desert, with no clue if I’m going the right way, so that I have to listen extra carefully to what God is telling me.


All the ratings in my life are starting to distract me from my mission: to try to promote peace and hope in this world as best I can. The measuring sticks surrounding me are essentially building a prison in which evaluation after evaluation tell me if I’m worth anything. My self-esteem goes up and down with the rankings for the day, so that I have no steady ground on which to write the stuff in my heart. I don’t want to know which topics bring more clicks, which issues the media like, which headlines to tweet.

I want 40 days to meet myself again, and learn that I’m fine with good Amazon ratings and with crappy ones … because I am loved by God either way. I want a month and a half to dig within myself for the stories only I can write, and to craft the ones that best contribute to my mission of hope. I want to return to the wisdom of the following two passages that I read every morning as part of my prayer session:
All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. Think of this more and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be more open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it. -Thomas Merton


Somewhere deep in our hearts we already know that success, fame, influence, power, and money do not give us the inner joy and peace we crave. Somewhere we can even sense a certain envy of those who have shed all false ambitions and found a deeper fulfillment in their relationship with God. Yes, somewhere we can even get a taste of that mysterious joy in the smile of those who have nothing to lose. –Henri Nouwen

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a website where God would give us our real ranking each day? Based on how well we were living truth and goodness and love? Where we could base our identify and approval ratings on the stuff that really matters?


My Lenten observation may be the hardest yet, especially given the combustible combination of my OCD and perfectionism.

But here’s hoping for some good results. 

No figure needed.

Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.

  • Richard Jarzynka

    I’ve stopped getting on the scale every day – without any negative results. But I’m a little compulsive (can you be a “LITTLE” compulsive?) about checking my Amazon sales rank, blog traffic, views of my articles, and links to my website. Hey, I have bipolar!

  • Elizabeth

    You are my hero :)
    You have inspired me to give up checking on My numbers for Lent!
    I have OCD and anxiety and I know that when I don’t act on my obsessions with my compulsions (like thinking about my own numbers (weight, site meter etc.) all the time and then checking them several times a day), I can fight the OCD better.
    I already feel like I’m on my way to freedom from this particular obsession/compulsion.
    You rock!

  • justaman

    The frustrating part, is thinking I’ve got the tricks down on leaving a comment successfully. Then, having
    managed to do so a number of times, I stop rough drafting my comment, beforehand, type the captcha,
    which comes up saying that I entered it incorrectly, but that, my text has not been lost; only to find that
    when I click on where it says to try again, my text fails to come up with it, and typing in the new code
    that shows, a window comes up telling me I must make a comment.
    Arrghh !!!!

  • Yolanda

    Therese, I too have been bound by these chains: “The measuring sticks surrounding me are essentially building a prison in which evaluation after evaluation tell me if I’m worth anything.” It took me losing my job to realize that although I’m basically penniless right now (for the most part) and living with inlaws until I’m back on my feet (not an easy thing to do with 2 boys in tow in an already-crowded house!) I’m truly blessed!! Therese, we are children of God, and He loves us no matter what! we place too much emphasis on what others say and think about us, when often it’s their insecurities that lead to their criticism and envy of us…you are a totally awesome person, and I read you almost every day and find inspiration, hope and peace when I read you…remember God loves us! may this Lenten season help you strengthen your relationship with God…

  • Yolanda

    oh…by the way, I forgot to mention I suffer from depression and anxiety and need to lose about 30 pounds…but God has blessed me with a truly wonderful man who loves me the way I am!…
    you are an inspiration to me and countless others…never forget that…

  • Katherine from Postpartum Progress

    OMG Therese. I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. It’s enough to drive you … well … crazy. Pretty soon there will be a pathologized name for it: rank-ziety disorer.
    Blogging can be a blessing and a curse. You want to reach as many people as possible because you believe the information you are sharing can be helpful. In order to reach that many people, you have to pay attention to what works on your blog and what doesn’t, where you are ranked, how many people are quoting you, how many followers you have, how many fan page members you have … It all gets to be just TOO much.
    Solidarity, sister.

  • Conny

    May you find the strength to follow through all of your goals.
    You are such an Inspiration!

  • Meg

    Qualitative, not quantitative. Much much easier said than done. I watch people fall into this trap all the time. And your blog post fit in perfectly with another bit’o’wisdom that arrived in my inbox this morning…
    “You’re right, Meghan; too much self-discipline will discourage your playful, wandering imagination. It’ll snuff out the flames of inspiration and creativity. And it’ll weigh you down with routines and logic. It simply isn’t “spiritual.”
    But, then, neither is too little.”
    Be well TB, and know you are an inspiration to many. Numbers schnumbers.

  • Wilma N. Mayo

    You are a true Christian in action who understands what peace, hope love and faith really means. You are a good model to those who believe but yet having a hard time how to put it in action.
    Forty days is a long way to go…I’ll pray for you to succeed in meeting your goal. God bless!

  • Bill

    Wonderful insight into what the superficially positive quantification game does to help “neuroticize” us, and how we can moderate it.
    Yet, thank goodness, giving up over quantification doesn’t need to keep us from counting our blessings.

  • Bill

    Wonderful insight into what the superficially positive quantification game does to help “neuroticize” us, and how we can moderate it.
    Yet, thank goodness, giving up over quantification doesn’t need to keep us from counting our blessings.

  • Richard

    It took me just a moment to see the wisdom of your choice. Numbers tend to inform us how others feel about us, and that is something I obsess about it. I am the (number) year old man who (number) years ago was able to participate in (number)events but no longer can due to my disability; which I have had for (number) years. I used the events of the time as a measuring stick as to how well I was living my life. (In other words, self-esteem.) When the disability began, my old method of measurement became a thing of the past and I did not have a replacement.
    No wonder I became suicidal. The lack of self-esteem data did much to feed my depression. Would that be an inverse number? The number theory is still here, modified a bit and I still obsess about it. I wish you well with your choice and fear it will tougher than you anticipate. May the thoughts and prayers of your un-numberable readers send you strength. 😉

  • Melinda

    Oh wow – that’s a huge one! Best of luck to you. :)
    “The measuring sticks surrounding me are essentially building a prison in which evaluation after evaluation tell me if I’m worth anything. My self-esteem goes up and down with the rankings for the day, so that I have no steady ground on which to write the stuff in my heart.”
    Preach it. I feel the same way – exactly. Thank you for sharing this quest of yours, and reminding me that I shouldn’t care so much about the numbers either.

  • Your Name

    Good for you…
    Although I have found that my weight tends to creep upward if I don’t weigh myself–it keeps me honest…. 3 pounds fluctuation is normal–up beyond that means to cut back a little.
    Our Lady of Weight Loss had a great post on a scale that doesn’t have numbers–maybe you’d enjoy this, Therese:

  • Kate

    wow Therese….you did pick a hard one! I’ll pray for you on this one! I can imagine that this will be as difficult, if not more than the breaks from the computer…
    good luck with that – really!
    yours, Kate

Previous Posts

Seven Ways to Get Over an Infatuation
“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild ...

posted 12:46:43pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

When Faith Turns Neurotic
When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate ...

posted 10:37:13am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

How to Handle Negative People
One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from ...

posted 10:32:10am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

8 Coping Strategies for the Holidays
For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a ...

posted 9:30:12am Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »

Can I Say I’m a Son or Daughter of Christ and Suffer From Depression?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer ...

posted 10:56:04am Oct. 29, 2013 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.