Photo of Carrots With Text Overlay Lessons From The Carrot Patch: Are We Stunting Our Own Growth

Lessons From The Carrot Patch: Are We Stunting Our Own Growth?

We said our final goodbye of the season to our garden Saturday. We still had carrots in the ground because the weather had been so warm we left them in to give them a chance to grow.

photo of carrots

Well, as you can see from the picture, our carrots are nothing to look at this year. Part of the problem was the weird weather we had this year, but a bigger part of it was me.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them, but carrot seeds are tiny. It’s hard to space them evenly while you’re planting them, so it’s vital to thin them out. It’s a monotonous task, and I don’t always do a good job of getting them thinned out the way I should, which causes the small, misshapen carrots you see here.

This made me think about how sometimes, without even thinking about it, we can do or allow things that stunt our growth or slow our progress. Sometimes we need to thin things out of our lives.

Some things that may need thinning:


No, not the kind that ruin your picnics…. The kind we’re talking about here is something called Automatic Negative Thoughts. This term was coined by Dr. Daniel Amen, founder of the Amen Clinic and author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. These ANTs are the thoughts that pop up and make their way into our brains (and into our bodies via chemical changes) before we even realize we’re having them. As we’ve discussed before, our automatic thoughts can’t always be trusted. They don’t always tell the truth.

This means that we have to 1) be careful which of our thoughts we believe and 2) work to train our brains to process thoughts in more positive and hopeful ways. This may not be easy, particularly if we have long-running, deep-seated negative ways of processing the world around us, but with a little attention and work, it can be done. The first step is, of course, recognizing them for what they are. Once we realize they’ve popped up, we need to remember we don’t have to believe them, then take steps to deal with them. One way of doing this is simply talking back to them. Dr. Amen suggests writing the negative thought down and then writing a positive response. This helps reframe the negative thought and keep it from becoming entrenched.

Failure to believe in ourselves: 

In the fitness world, we talk a lot about self-efficacy when we’re working to help people change their behaviors. Basically, self-efficacy is the belief that we can be successful. Often, while our outer voices may say we believe things can get better, or we believe we can do things to improve our health and quality of life, our inner voices may be telling us we’re ‘stuck’ where we are.

So how do we counter this? That’s where those small steps come in. We have to start out with small, achievable steps to help us build our confidence. If you’re dealing with fibromyalgia or another chronic illness, that first ‘small step’ might just be getting up and dressed each morning. No matter what the first step is, or how small it is, once we’re successful with it we realize we can  make those small changes, one at a time and building on the previous one, until we’re where we want to be.

Being a perfectionist, and then being too hard on ourselves when we can’t do things perfectly: 

This can often go hand-in-hand with the failure to believe in ourselves. We set our expectations too high, and when we don’t succeed, we beat ourselves up. Have you heard that saying, “Perfection is the enemy of progress”? That is particularly true when you’re dealing with a chronic illness. We never know from one day to the next what our bodies are going to allow us to do, and putting pressure on ourselves to do things perfectly or do things we’re not capable of leads to guilt and disappointment in ourselves. These feelings can stop us in our tracks and cause us to believe we don’t have any chance of getting better or making progress.

To prevent this we need to give ourselves grace. Remember those ANTs? Stomp them! We need to stop those negative thoughts in our tracks. Rather than beating ourselves up over what we didn’t do, or didn’t do perfectly, we can choose to look at what we did have success in. We have to learn to forgive ourselves when we don’t meet our expectations. There are always going to be things we’re not successful at, but the difference between failure and growth is often grace. Giving ourselves grace allows us to forgive our perceived failure rather than wallowing in it. This allows us to put that particular incident behind us and take the next small step forward.

Looking Too Far Ahead:

Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying that we shouldn’t plan for the future or set goals. What I mean is that when we look too far down the road, sometimes all we can see are the obstacles. Have you ever said, “I’m glad I didn’t know how hard this was going to be” or “I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now”? If we look at how far we have to go to get to our ultimate goal, we can become discouraged and give up before we’ve even started.

Taking a shorter view and looking at the ‘next steps’ we need to accomplish can help combat this problem. Think about it – if you’re barely able to get out of bed in the morning, is it easier to think “I need to walk 10,000 steps each day” or is it easier to think, “I need to walk to my kitchen”? Concentrating on the ‘here and now’ can help us gain the self-efficacy we talked about above and prevent us from being overwhelmed by how much we still have to do.

Sometimes we can inadvertently be our own worst enemies when it comes to growth and progress. Being aware of some of these progress-killers can help us watch out for them in our lives and ‘thin them out’ when they show up.

How do you thin out the things that have the potential to stunt your growth or delay your progress? Please share!




  1. Another well written and timely post, Terri. I really like the idea of writing down the negative thoughts followed by a positive. We are packing up and preparing to hit the road again, and my ants are frenzied. Those little pests have the ability to freeze me up, hindering all progress. I know that I stew, so often, I’ll keep the thoughts to myself, which does not help. I am going to try this technique.

    1. Thanks so much V.J.! I think you and I are a lot alike. I keep things to myself and let them eat at me instead of just getting them out in the open and dealing with them. I’m learning to do better with this, mainly because I realized doing it made me anxious. I would just obsess over something I was worried about, and the more I thought about it, the worse it grew in my mind. Now I just go ahead and expose those small worries so I can go ahead and deal with them and keep them from ramping up anxiety. I hope writing those negative thoughts down and ‘talking back’ to them with a positive helps. Please let me know how it goes. I hope you’re able to quiet them down so you can enjoy getting ready for your trip. Maybe next year we can meet up in AZ. 😊 Hugs!

    1. Thank you so much Barbara! I’m glad you found it helpful. It’s easy to hold ourselves back without even realizing it, isn’t it? Hope you’re doing well. Blessings to you!

  2. I think a lot of us have too many ANTS crawling around! I’m certainly guilty of thinking too far ahead sometimes in terms of worrying about jobs/career, the fears and worries that come up because I’m struggling so much day to day that I can’t see how things can/will be in the future. Then of course not believing in ourself, self-sabotage even, further complicate matters and make things more difficult than they already are. These things definitely stunt our growth, and rob us of the opportunity to live our best lives, to make the most of what we have and appreciate the present. Fantastic post, Terri, incredibly thought-provoking and encouraging, too  ♥
    Caz xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! I know I’ve been (and still am sometimes) guilty of all these things at one time or another. I know what you mean about worrying about the future because you’re struggling so much day to day. I think that’s why it’s so important to focus in on the short-term rather than looking so far into the future. It’s easy for us to worry and to become discouraged if we’re looking at the road ahead sometimes. I hope you’re recovering from the flu and feeling a little more energetic. Sending love and hugs!

  3. Another great post, Terri.
    Despite years of positive thinking and a regular meditation practice, I still have ANTs roaming around my brain. 😉
    I didn’t reply to your earlier post with questions about readers’ input because I usually like everything you post and couldn’t think of something else. But if I have a thought about it, I’ll let you know.

    1. Thanks so much Ellie! I think those ANTs are a recurring issue for many of us. The trick is dealing with them as soon as they appear. Thanks for the feedback about the previous post too. If you do think of something, please let me know – I’m always happy to hear from you! I hope you’re doing well. Blessings to you!

    1. Thank you so much Wendi! It seems that those renegade thoughts are a problem for a lot of us…. I think a lot of it is because they actually (according to Dr. Amen anyway) make their way into our brains before we even realize we’re having them. That’s why it’s so important we learn to catch them, but it’s pretty much a never-ending job, isn’t it? Sending hugs!

      1. Yes, you are so right (as Dr. Amen) they happen before I realize it and if I don’t catch it right away, it is off like a locomotive……….so, yes, it is a never ending job (at least for me). Bless you my friend for your wonderful blog.

  4. Great post Terri! And I still love your carrots, they look so cute and delicious. The message behind then is very true. Oh how we are inspired by everything around us, it’s wonderful.
    The last part reminded me of this bible verse, ‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’
    I for one do not like to plan ahead, as I don’t even know what tomorrow will bring. In my ‘few’ years on this Earth, many things haven’t gone as I thought they would or would happen – brain surgery was one, and so, I’ve learned to just slow down and allow things to come as the Lord sees fit for me. 😊🙏🏽

    1. Thank you so much Ana! My hubby tried one of the carrots and he said they taste good. I washed them up and put them in the fridge – we’re going to use them even though they don’t look beautiful. You make a great point about never knowing what tomorrow will bring. I do make future plans, but I always do that with the knowledge that the Lord may have other plans for me, and I’m okay with that. Blessings to you sweet friend!

      1. Oh I’m sure they’re delicious. I love carrots even in my salad, so yummy.
        That’s a great way to view our plans. The Lord has a bigger and even better plan for us. We like to say, “si Dios quiere” a lot, which means, “God willing.” As the prayer goes, “Thy will be done.”

    1. Thank you so much Jeff! It’s easy for us to be our own worst enemies sometimes, isn’t it? At least when we realize we have a tendency to do these things we can take action to nip it in the bud…. Blessings to you!

      1. Yes it is Terri! I think the enemy often uses me against myself for no one else can do as effective of a job of destroying me than myself. Peace to you!!

    1. Ooh yummy, I love carrot cake! Carrot soup sounds good also, though I’ve never tried it. I have a recipe for carrot and ginger soup. I need to pull it out and give it a try. Thanks for stopping by Resa!

Please tell me what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.