It’s that time of year when many of us feel the calling to be more mindful about our consumption – and more to the point, our over-consumption.
And so, tradition dictates that we should give something up for the 40 days of Lent.
But what if this traditional practise is actually taking you further away from your health and happiness goals?
Would you make a small change to this tradition for your success?
Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations.
The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.
In my work as a health coach, the concept of Lent presents some problems.
There are reasons why ‘giving up’ does not work.
My partnership with my clients refutes the concept of just ‘giving up’ things – whether it is foods, thoughts or habits.
As complex human beings, we need more motivation to succeed than just the reward of denying ourselves.
Is this how you operate?
- When you think about giving up something, you immediately feel a sense of lack, of deprivation.
- And those feelings just make you want that thing more!
- Your mind races ahead, past the smugness of your self-control, directly to the times when you will crave that which you are denying myself.
- You can imagine precisely the feelings of frustration at your own faltering willpower; the moments you will contemplate breaking your vow and the relief of crossing the finish line and rewarding yourself with exactly the thing you’ve been denying yourself!
Seriously. What will you have learned from this other than how to make yourself crazy?
But, a small shift in this thinking can make the difference between failure and success.
My challenge to you if you are participating in Lent, is this:
Instead of Giving Up, what can you swap?
It sounds like such a simple and obvious shift that it’s hardly worth the words I’m writing.
But this is so much more powerful than you think.
This psychological shift can create a pattern of thinking that helps in every change you wish to make in your life. Think about it:
- Instead of giving up chocolate bars, I will swap to 85% cacao, organic chocolate or even raw chocolate smoothies
- Instead of giving up coffee, I will swap to a satisfying substitute
- Instead of giving up bread, I will swap to grain-free alternatives
- Instead of [trying to!] give up negative thoughts about myself, I will make a practise of positive affirmations every morning.
I can honestly say that my clients have made life-changing improvements to their health and happiness by employing this tactic of swapping where previous attempts to ‘give things up’ had left them feeling like failures.
I have witnessed clients eradicate caffeine from their life with NO withdrawal symptoms; easily reduce their sugar intake with no cravings; lose lbs simply by swapping pasta for healthier alternatives and prefer them.
The simple message is this:
It doesn’t have to be an ordeal to be effective. In fact, it will be more effective if it is not an ordeal!
What can you swap in the next forty days instead of just denying yourself?
As the day before Lent is traditionally a time to fill our boots with yummy pancakes, I thought this client-favourite recipe would be appropriate. Not only can you treat yourself to pancakes, you can do it in the knowledge that these are much healthier than the usual white flour offerings.
And please drop me a comment below about what swap you could pledge for the next day, week or even forty days of Lent.