Some people give up alcohol; but I've already stopped drinking (at least in theory). Some people give up chocolate – but I've still got half that box of Christmas chocolates left and they are far too good not to eat. Some people take on the discipline of doing something nice for others every day, but – I don't feel the need to do that either.
A friend said she's giving up complaining for Lent. She is reading Will Bowen's book, A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Enjoy the Life you Always Wanted. I thought about it for a while but that one didn't resonate either. I have always held with the philosophy of counting your blessings, and not your lacks, and hate complaining about anything!
So – why give up anything for Lent? I am a Christian, a member of the Anglican Church; but even within the Church, the Lenten fast is not obligatory.
Yet I feel I want to mark this period in some way – and in a manner which will make a positive impact on me and on others.
After some contemplation I had an idea. This Lent I am giving up being nasty to myself. For the six weeks up to Easter (only five now), I will cease to beat myself up, call myself names or castigate myself over anything. I will accept my actions without judgment. This is much harder than accepting the actions of others without judgment!
So – that alcohol thing? Saturday night I slipped up big-time. I went around all Sunday with a fuzzy head and a queasy tummy. This week, the healthy eating has fallen by the wayside. I have not written the chapter of my book I told myself I would. I have not kept promises made. As the book of common prayer says, "I have left undone those things which I ought to have done and I have done those things which I ought not to have done."
And I have decided not to feel guilty about them, or to sit in judgment upon myself, or to punish myself. Instead, there is a huge emptiness where all that judgment, guilt and punishment would normally churn away like a maelstrom. It's an odd feeling of nothingness.
My first observation was that I felt guilty for not feeling guilty, so I had to get rid of that too. Now there is a freedom; a limbo. And I don't know what will come next.
Of course, I do not wish to drink again – it really doesn't work for me. Of course, I feel better if I eat more vegetables and less sugar. Yes – I really do want to finish my book. I want to keep those promises I made.
But - it's okay to start again from here.
I don't know what will happen, but I do know that forgoing the inward punishment means more space and energy to look outward to others.
And that must be healthier. With or without that chocolate!
A Moodscope member.