Nourish relationships and self-care

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Lent and proactivity

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For the first time in years, I feel excited about my commitment for Lent. I don’t experience it as punishment, discipline or deficit.

As I brainstormed what I wanted to do for Lent, I wondered what my intention was. Is it about creating a challenge? Forcing myself to succeed for success’ sake? Fasting because I think I have to?

Or do I want to use Lent to create clarity about my future self? To figure out how I want to show up in the world, even if my habits urge me to do things that might conflict with what I value? Is it about prioritizing commitment over pleasure, long-term vision over short-term gratification? I now realize I want to use Lent to deepen what Stephen Covey calls proactivity:

“The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to those commitments, is the essence and clearest manifestation of our proactivity.” (Covey, S., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 2004, p. 99)

When I set my goal for Lent, I create a little crucible for myself. A little sanctuary of six weeks where I elicit all the feelings that come with letting go. To feel my feelings when I don’t grasp for food out of habit, boredom, anxiety, fatigue. When I set my goal for Lent, I invite myself to look into those feelings, listen to them and understand the (un)met needs that are hidden in them. It offers me the opportunity to brainstorm other strategies to meet the precious needs behind the habitual eating. It is about choosing what I value, instead of what I crave. I might find out that instead of eating, I rather go to bed, or do a mindful walk for 10 minutes, or pause and breathe into the feelings that come up in my little crucible.

Lent is not about enduring craving for six weeks and counting down the days to return to the interrupted pattern. It is about looking deeply into myself and inviting myself to open to all the strategies to meet my needs. Not only the habitual eating, also the newly discovered ones during my Lent. And then making an open-hearted choice that supports my values: the habitual eating or this new path?

I believe proactivity is not about force, it is about choice.


You want help to practice proactivity? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

Thank you, David Nayer, for role modeling the value of collaboration by editing this and many other posts with such delight.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

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