Gaining (and Losing) Control

I survived Lent!

I’m not Catholic, but I’ve always been interested in trying out Lent. So this year when Ash Wednesday rolled around, I hopped aboard with a wish and a prayer (literally). For approximately 46 days, I went cold turkey on a number of habits, and despite myself, I made it through.

Of course, I was tempted to fall back into my usual ways. That’s expected. But I had to keep telling myself that I could do it, that in the grand scheme of it all, 40-some days really wasn’t all that long. In hindsight, it isn’t. However, there were many days where I thought I would give up before even reaching April.

And yet, I survived.

My will was stronger than I gave it credit initially. It’s so easy to fall into the thought process that, “I can’t because this is what I do and who I am.” In reality, the power to stop or to change lies squarely in your hands. Is it easy? No. Not at all. But it is possible. I recall seeing a comment on an article post (and I wish I could remember where it was so I could give proper credit) that highlighted the difference between “I am a [blank]” versus “I happen to do [blank].”

As an example: “I am a liar” versus “I happen to lie once in a while.”

See the difference?

Once you can separate the action from yourself, then it should be easier to end that unsavory action. So, when you’re up against adversity, you can instead think, “I don’t lie anymore” because you’re not centering yourself or your personality around that action or habit. This mode of thinking really helped me overcome the mental and spiritual challenge of this year’s Lent, and I want to use this more often for other habits.

I will admit, unfortunately, by shunning one set of bad habits, I formed a new set that I’m not very happy about. Though Lent is over, I still want to push myself. I don’t want this to be a one-off activity and end up losing control again. I had this idea in my head that once I shirked those habits, I’d be in the clear, but they shifted elsewhere. By treating every day like Lent now, I will have to resist these new habits, too.

It’s important to celebrate little victories, though, so I’m definitely proud I made it.

Whether you believe in a higher power or not, it’s important to confront your bad habits head-on and continue to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Trust and believe (in God, in yourself, or both), and you will succeed.

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