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3 Meaningful Things to Give Up for Lent

​For the Lenten season, I've invited some of my friends to join me in sharing one thing we could give up each day, in order to live a better life.

3 Meaningful Things to Give Up for Lent

Here are 3 meaningful things to give up for lent:

Yesterday

Giving up anything can be painful. You may need to let go of a person or an idea that you’ve held on to for years, but now know that they’re negative forces in your life and you must let go or suffer consequences.

Before you take action to rid yourself of yesterday’s baggage, you must be willing to accept the changes that your new beginning will bring. You need to open up to the possibilities that lie ahead and not hang on to the bad memories and actions of the past.

You may be letting go of some bad habits in your life such as unhealthy eating, smoking or saying goodbye to a job that no longer holds a bright future for you. Intellectually, you may know that you have to let go in order to experience progress, but actually taking action is difficult.

When you’re finding it hard to let go of negative areas of your life and make way for new beginnings, here are a few tips that might help:

  • Accept the past. Whatever you’ve done or been in the past is history. Only until you accept that past can you let go of it and set yourself free to move on to a better future.
  • Take action by meditating (or praying). Meditation may not seem like action, but when you meditate, your brain is working overtime to bring clarity and focus to your life.
  • Set your goals for the future. Nothing helps get rid of the past like looking toward the future. Align your goals with the life’s purpose you see for yourself.
  • Don’t think of yourself as a victim of the past. Terrible things may have happened in your past, but when you continue to see yourself as a victim, you’re hanging on to yesterday rather than letting tomorrow guide you down a path of new and better beginnings. (And this may require professional help, like therapy.)
  • View past mistakes as opportunities. The horrific mistakes you’ve made in the past can be a springboard for making you a better person.
  • Visualize yourself as the person you want to be. No matter how you want to change from what you were in the past, you’ve got to let go of that old image to begin creating the one you desire.

Believe in yourself and that you can let go of all of yesterday’s regrets and mistakes and make the future brighter. You’re only given this one life, so treat each day as if it was a gift. Unwrap it carefully and with excitement.

Tomorrow

Sometimes the life we planned isn't always the one we end up with. The best laid plans become a struggle that you didn't see coming and you find yourself living on the cusp of the life you always wanted, never quite fulfilling the dream.

But, plans falling through aren't always negative. You may have missed going to medical school because you fell in love, had a baby right away and didn't have to funds to complete school. Or, perhaps you dreamed of becoming an astronaut just as NASA cut its space program.

Even though you might not have gone to medical school, you did find the love of your life and have a child who is likely the apple of your eye. The dream of being an astronaut was difficult to let go, but hopefully, you found fulfillment in another career.

For some, plans falling through may seem like an act of betrayal by the world. They hold on to the old dreams and regret that their plans never reached fruition. 

The present, no matter how wonderful and fulfilling it might be, might never result in complete happiness unless you can let go of that old, planned life and embrace what you have now.

It may not be possible for you to go to medical school or become an astronaut, but there are changes you can make that will leave you fulfilled and happy with what life has given you.

At this point in your life, figure out what you can do to bring joy and happiness into the life you have now and it will be easier to let go of the old dreams and wishes.

Begin by listing everything you're grateful for right now. It may be your health, children, a comfortable and entertaining lifestyle or any number of things that have brought you happiness. After you decide what you're grateful for and what possibilities might be available for you now, set goals and take actions that will spur you on toward those possibilities.

If you've always wanted to be an artist, take an art class. Volunteering at a hospital can give you lots of satisfaction if you've always wanted to work and be near medical happenings.

The life you planned might not be possible at this time in your life, but the world is full of possibilities that can fulfill you and make life worth living. 

Look to the past fondly, but let go of it if it's holding you back.

Limiting Beliefs

For the past several months, my motto has been, "Why Not?" When it comes to opportunities that might have previously seemed risky, I am now saying, "Why not?" And more specifically, "Why not me?"

In the past five months, the result has been:

  • Two book deals.
  • A speaking tour of California
  • A mental health weekend in Canada
  • A writer's residency in France
  • Greater self-confidence

So what about you?

Are you ready to give up playing it safe? Are you tired of always staying within the bounds and limiting yourself? 

Let's focus today on how to eliminate just one limiting belief:

  1. Ask yourself if the belief is really true.
  2. Determine the source of the belief.
  3. Declare to yourself, "I don't believe this anymore. It's not true."
  4. Imagine being free from the belief. How would your life change?
  5. Replace the limiting belief with one that counteracts it.
  6. Find evidence that the new belief is valid.

If limiting beliefs are weighing you down and causing you to shrink back from a full life, I'd like to encourage you today to open the part of you that is shrinking back and has given up. Open it up to God's love.

If the steps I gave you above are overwhelming, just start by soaking in God's accepting, affirming presence. You are enough, exactly as you are.

​There's still time to sign up for my 40 Days of Giving Up: A New Way to Do Lent. Click here to join the fun.

By Steve Austin

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.