From Ash Wednesday leading to Easter, the 40 days of Lent are a time of spiritual reflection, meditation and fasting for Christians. In year’s past, I decided to give up things like Pepsi, Lay’s Potato Chips, Desperate Housewives and swearing. Though my previous Lenten sacrifices we challenging (especially 40 days without Pepsi), I knew in my heart that, in the grand scheme of things, there were likely other sacrifices that would have a greater impact. This year, I thought long and hard about what I could give up for Lent that would truly make a difference in my life over the 40 day season. I wanted to sacrifice something for Lent that could also positively impact my family, friends and clients. I invite you to join me in making the following four sacrifices for #Lent2014 and here’s why.
Complaining – When I stopped to listen to the things that I complained about in any given day – “I’m so sick of this weather”, “this traffic is getting on my nerves”, “this is the second time this restaurant got my order wrong” “why did you go down this street?” and so on, I realized that complaining was something that I could live without. I know that when we complain about things that we are powerless to change, we begin living our lives as victims. This impacts our mood, our levels of self-esteem and even our overall mental health.
Blaming – Although I don’t often say the words “it’s your fault”, the act of ‘blaming’ for me, has often appeared as self-righteousness. I’ve often heard myself say “well, I would have done it this way” or “he made me mad” as a way to blame others for a particular outcome or as a way to justify my own poor behavior. Either way, neither serves me nor humanity. I believe that my ‘blaming diet’ will help us understand that if we can accept responsibility when things do not go well we am free to accept credit when things go right.
Justifying – One of my favorite Lenten sacrifices this season has been ‘justifying’. When I speak of justifying, I mean feeling the need to explain to others why I’ve made a particular decision. I’ve often had a problem with the word ‘no’ or feeling like I’ve let people down. “I can’t go with you because I have another meeting” or “let me call you back because I need to take this call.” Typically, when I hear myself say because, it’s because (no pun intended) I’m justifying my actions to others and which, for me, is often connected to me not wanting to let them down. Not feeling as if we need to justify our actions to others gives us more power, emotional strength, confidence and control.
Judgment – This sacrifice that has required the most energy for me to release is judgment (I promise I’m not complaining or judging here). Many sentences which include ‘should’ ‘could’ ‘right’ ‘wrong’ all typically include judgments statements. “I can’t believe she did that”, “he shouldn’t have said that to her” or “that is pitiful” are all judgment statements I hear from myself all too often. But what I know is that when we judge others, we’re actually judging a part of ourselves that we don’t like and don’t want to acknowledge. In essence, we’re actually putting ourselves down when we think we are judging someone else. This impacts our personal power, our self-image and our self-esteem.
So, what do you think? Can you imagine 40 days without giving away your power, 40 days of taking responsibility for all outcomes, 40 days of fortifying your emotional strength all while allowing an over-active inner-critic to get a much-needed rest? What kind of life could we all be leading after 40 days of living this way? What results could we produce? How much stronger, healthier, happier and more successful could we be? I’m looking forward to sharing with you my results and I’d love to hear about yours.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a Christian or don’t typically participate in Lent, I challenge you to think about how you could use the 40 days to change your life. If you choose other things, what characteristics or habits do you have that don’t serve you could you give up? I look forward to hearing about it.