My Lent experience and how I got through it

This year was the first time I decided to give up something for Lent. I was proofreading my colleague’s blog post on Lent and thought that it would be worth a try.

I took the idea home to my partner who reluctantly agreed to give up chocolate after a lavish Easter egg bribe and I would give up crisps. Crisps are my Achilles heel, at one point I was eating three packets a day and as a child, there weren't any around the house so I would gorge on them whenever they were available at parties. Parents must have thought I was never fed at home.

I have a reasonable amount of willpower but even so, I am thinking about the delicious savoury taste and texture of crisps while writing this post. It has been a challenge and though it’s nearly the end of the forty days, I am still struggling. 

It seems ridiculous to describe not being able to eat crisps for forty days as a struggle when so many people around the world have to do without basics and not from choice. It's not a bad idea to give something up once in a while, especially our luxuries to remind us of this.

Here are tips that helped me get through it:

1. Take it one day at a time

Forty days can sound like a long time so be positive about each day that you go without. You can cross off each day on a calendar to visualise your achievement.

2. Out of sight out of mind

The most obvious and efficient method is to not be around what you are giving up. Unwittingly, my mum brought me crisps a week into Lent, I wrapped them in a bag and put them out of the way. They definitely called to me at various times during the forty days so it’s better not to have them near you at all.

3. Find someone to give up with you

It felt great to have someone agree to go through the same experience. My partner ended up giving into chocolate after a week so I was solo on this but if you can find someone who can do this with you, it will help.

4. Tell people what you are doing for support

There were a few occasions I was really prepared to break my crisps fast and without my partner telling me I was doing really well and that I shouldn’t give up, I most likely would have given in to the temptation.

5. Believing you can do it

Sometimes when we talk about things we don’t want to do, we phrase it as “I can’t do it.” Think about how many times you have heard this or even said it yourself when it was more a matter of ‘don’t want to’ rather than ‘can’t’. You have to believe it is possible in order to make it happen.

My last bit of advice is if you are trying to cut down or give up something long term, it may be better to allow yourself the occasional indulgence depending on what it is. The whole forbidden aspect of it made me want to have crisps even more than usual. But everyone is different, some of you may prefer the all or nothing approach and if you are giving up something like smoking then the nothing approach may be the better option.

So was it worth the entire struggle? For me, yes, because like the New Year, it gave me an opportunity to review myself and make a change. I recently came across this article about what you can achieve if you give up TV. It’s gotten to a stage where recently I found myself watching other people on TV watch TV, that’s a warning sign for me. I don’t think I’ll wait until Lent to try this one.

Here are two articles on why change is so hard and what you can do about it.

Humans are hard-wired to follow the path of least resistance 

The neuroscience of change: Why it's difficult and what makes it easier

Share your experience of giving something up for Lent with us.

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