Consider three personas when you think of yourself in your life:

  1. ATHLETE: How does an athlete improve? Remember the need for practice.
  2. SCIENTIST: Does a scientist let failed results affect their feelings of worth? No. Everything is data. It is just data.
  3. MOVIE DIRECTOR: Whenever there is a mis-take, they simply cut and start again. And there are thousands of mis-takes in a single film. It is expected. And because there is the ability to stop and try again, the end product is much more refined!

“Growth and improvement are such a struggle when we are critically judging all our efforts in such a personal way.”

So, let’s make it less personal. Let’s look at our struggles from these three personas.


There are skills that are not naturally strong in me, but skills that I would really like to improve, to change my life experience. For example, I am not naturally good at asking questions. I didn’t know this about myself until I had children. I am better at handing out instructions and advice, than asking the children their opinions or being curious about their points of view. And, again, I don’t need to make this mean something personal about me. I don’t need to feel any guilt or shame over this. As an ATHLETE, I am going to set myself up with opportunities to strengthen that “muscle”, to practice using that skill. Bry and I actually discussed this one, and we have decided that weekly we will take turns taking one of the children out on a “date”, to ask them questions and to learn more about them – to practice this skill.


A scientist, in an effort to figure something out or to improve on something, will experiment. And then they will take what they learned from that experiment – whether the experiment went poorly or it went brilliantly or anywhere in between – they will take that information and use it to their benefit, right? It is just data. IT IS JUST DATA.

And every single day I have the opportunity to remind myself that that’s what is going on in my day – whether it is really not going as I’d hoped or it’s going brilliantly well, or somewhere in between – it is just data.

  • I got cross at the children before dinner, probably because I hadn’t eaten a proper lunch and I was hungry. That is data. I don’t need to beat myself up. That is just data. And I can use that data to try something different tomorrow, to improve on what I am already living.
  • No one wanted to share their thoughts in family testimony meeting last week. That is data. It is just data. It is not a personal attack on me or on the truths we are teaching in our home. I will look at that data and Bry and I will figure out a different way to try it next time, for different results.
  • Ella was diagnosed this week with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. I thought it was very interesting, as soon as the diagnosis was made, the doctor really nearly overwhelmed us with assurances that this is not due to something we have done wrong as parents. We were told twice in a week’s time, by two medical personnel that this is not our fault. Interesting. We hadn’t taken it that way in the first place. But that must be a common reaction by parents. The message the doctor was giving us, essentially, was that this diagnosis is just data. It is data that they and we can use to help Ella improve her affected joint, right?
  • Jono didn’t want his green smoothie a few mornings ago. It wasn’t personal. It was just data.

Brooke asks:

“Do you have conflict or angry feelings towards another person? It is just data.”

Really? Are you sure it doesn’t mean that I am a horrible person for feeling this way?

I woke up this morning in a dark place. My mind was looking back on things that had hurt me in the past – things that I thought I’d worked my way through. And I cried. And I had a friend reach out, and I was grateful. And I journaled. And then I came across this podcast again. Do you know what? My dark emotions right now are not a reflection on my ability to succeed in this area of my life. It is just data. That is all it is. And what data can I collect from this morning? 1) I haven’t fully worked my way through those difficult memories. I see that more clearly now. 2) The story I am telling myself about that situation is not serving me well. What thoughtwork can I do around that story? 3) I have friends who care, and reach out when prompted. 4) The Lord is on my side, and is prompting others to reach out. He doesn’t look at me as a lost cause.

Look at your mistakes as data. Look at your successes as data – that one is easier to do. But do it. And ask yourself: What does the data help me learn? Such an appropriate question.

It is just data. What can the data help me learn?

How would my relationship with my children change if I considered their complaints or the disobedience or their tantrums or their mistakes as “just data”? How would my relationships with others around me change? How would my relationship with myself change if I considered my shortcomings, my slide-backs, even my negative feelings as “just data”?

“One of the greatest gifts I have given myself is the SCIENTIST. It is just data. And suddenly every mistake becomes really useful information to help me learn and grow.”

How would my relationship with the Lord change if I accepted His mercy toward me? I don’t think He is sitting in the heavens, looking down on me, angry or disappointed in me for not being perfect. I think He wants me to take this data and learn from it, and use what I have learned to repent, to change, to become a better version of myself.

“Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou has bestowed upon them because of thy Son.”

What? Come again? The Lord is angry with the people, yes, but NOT because of their sins or their transgressions or their mistakes – all the things I am so afraid I do that disappoints the Lord. No. He is angry only because “they WILL not understand (His) mercies…bestowed upon them because of (His) Son.” He is angry when we dismiss the gift of His Son, when we don’t use the Atonement, when we don’t repent and learn and grow and improve, and turn to the peace and the joy that He has already gifted to us, through the suffering of His Son.


Stop. Cut. Start again. And this is absolutely expected. And the end product – me – will be closer to the version of me that I want to create, each time I stop, cut, and start again.

Brooke introduced me to what she calls a Do-Over Meditation. At the end of the day, instead of listing in prayer all my faults, asking for forgiveness for each, I can use that time to look at “takes” from my day. And, with Christ by my side, do them over again in my mind.

We will talk more about this meditation later. But this is powerful – practice, gather information from successes and failures, then try again. This is self-care, in a different way than I had looked at it before.

Have a wonderful, light day.

Previous DAY #203 GIFTS TO MY FUTURE SELF (again)


  1. […] It’s just data. We’ve heard that before! […]

  2. Bryant
    October 26, 2020

    Love the idea of three approaches. I think I default to the scientist – it’s just data. It seems practicing more would be useful. And doing over – especially with our children – could be brilliant. Thanks for teaching me new skills. And letting me practice them on you.

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