Lent and Self-Mastery
Pondering my recent post on Lent, and also the chatter in the blogosphere about "The Secret" or the "Law of Attraction", the thought of how self-sacrifice can apply to self-mastery comes to mind.
So much of what's out there in the pop psychology and self-help world advocates a kind of prosperity consciousness that at times might be going a bit too far. There is definitely a real principle of goal-seeking in our minds that allows us to orient our thoughts toward our goals rather than failures so that our unconscious minds will align with that purpose. But some of what I'm seeing goes a bit further, incorporating new age beliefs and pseudoscientific misuse of metaphors from quantum mechanics. I urge anyone who encounters this to pick up a primer on actual quantum physics and with a bit of effort (there's usually an extensive use of mathematics) you'll see that quantum mechanics might not apply to seeking goals in your life.
Seeking goals and prosperity is a good thing. But if we become addicted to "having" all the time, when external circumstances change we can become very stressed. Periodically taking an inventory and seeing what we can do without helps remove mental attachments that are the basis for some of that stress. A Lenten or Lent-like practice of doing without something can help us keep perspective. Giving up something small is almost like exercising- it can strengthen our will and give us reference experiences when we are forced to give something up by the outside world.
In NLP and motivation in general, we make use of reference experiences all the time. The classic "circle of excellence" that is one of the earilest things many NLPers learn about makes use of reference experiences- positive ones. Experiences where we excelled. But many of us in comfortable middle class lifestyles haven't had to do without anything serious. And having a small, self-imposed exercise where we give ourselves reference experiences of doing without and staying on top of it will make those resources available when we really need them.
There really is power in being willing and able to sacrifice from time to time (just don't overdo it!). 24/7 prosperity consciousness is a nice trance to be in, but eventually when you run into the "stub-toe" reality where you can deny all you want that you hurt your foot but it remains injured, you'll need to draw on different resources.
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