Used to Be

Used to Be

Categories: AACC BLOG

by Ashley Elliott, MS, LMHCA

Consider your partner’s strengths. Do their qualities always fill your heart with joy? Or do their

When you think of your past, do you recall fond memories or pain, gratitude or regret? Though everyone desires to feel good about their past and future, life doesn’t always play along with our expectations.

It takes mental and spiritual work to navigate our path forward after we’ve faced even small losses in our lives. Have you ever drifted apart from a friend and quietly questioned what went wrong? Or maybe you received a devastating call with news that you cannot seem to quiet even though you fill every silent space with videos or other brain-altering distractions.

Big or small, all loss shakes us. We think we’re doing well until we experience a setback. Personally, I hear this phrase echo through my mind, “Here am I again.” I want to be better than I am. I use strategies and techniques, prayer and other spiritual connection tools, and yet I slip up again and again.

What do you do each time you make a mistake or are hurt by others? Let’s use the Three A’s to Change to explore some practical steps you can follow when you need to make a change. This is a concept I walk readers through in my book I Used to Be ____ which I co-wrote with my husband, Chuck.  We’ll use the following example to work through the process. Imagine you felt disrespected at work and while at home later that evening, you lashed out on an undeserving loved one.

The first step is to increase awareness. Invite God to help you understand why you spoke hurtful words. Ask Him to improve your understanding regarding your needs. After you’ve gained awareness, it’s time to move to step 2, assessment. Assess what you’ve tried in the past in similar situations. Make a list of the efforts that have been successful as well as the ones you don’t want to repeat. Then, generate a third list of any options that come to mind. Feel free to think creatively here. It’s ok to document outlandish ideas. The goal is to contemplate creative solutions and remind yourself that there is a limitless number of options.

When we get into a negative space, we tend to believe we are out of options. ‘I’ve tried everything,’ you might think. In the future, when you experience this negative space thought, you can review your list and remember that you’re not out of options!

The final step is to act. Choose one of the items on your list and do something. Then, you can re-cycle through the Three A’s to Change again and again, continuing to improve, day by day.

Maybe you used to be happy, married, or part of a team. Acknowledging your loss helps you identify your unmet needs. You don’t have to barrel through life and act like everything is fine. You can pray about it, ask for what you need, and imperfectly work through your hurts.

With God’s help, you get to decide who you become in the future.

If this article resonated with you, check out I Used to be _____. My husband and I filled this book with concrete, Biblical tools that will help you sort through any identity struggles you may face as a result of loss.

Ashley Elliott, co-author of I Used to Be _____, devised and published a theory to help individuals gain insight to their personal thinking patterns that prevent them from reaching success in relationships at work and home. She is also a licensed counselor and coach who specializes in grief and communication. Additionally, she consults with business leaders to help increase employee engagement and retention. Compiling her counseling skills with over a decade of higher education teaching and leadership experience provides an engaging, interactive experience where learning feels fun! Check out her book and lots of free resources at