How Sacrifice Helps Us End Bad Habits

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How Sacrifice Helps Us End Bad Habits

At his workshop for professional women, Gregg Levoy asked the participants to imagine themselves at a crossroads in front of a signpost that pointed in two different directions. He asked them to write down what was written on each of those two signs. One woman wrote “Hold On” and “Let Go.” She shared this with the group and asked their opinion on what she should do. Although almost no one knew what her sign was referencing, not a single person voted for her to hold on.

Breaking Down Walls

If you wish to move forward, there is probably something you need to let go of – a sacrifice you need to make. Whether you need to end a relationship, move on from a job or career, or lose weight, you’re letting go of a lifestyle to which you’ve grown accustomed. In order to make this momentous change, you will be forced to part ways with the familiar and comfortable. You will break down the walls of support you’ve built. In the process, you’ll likely suffer sticker shock.

In order to make a sacrifice, you have to be in the right mindset. Figuring out why accomplishing your goal is important to you or how will it ultimately improve your life is fundamental to your success in reaching the goal. The answer must be compelling enough for you to stick to your sacrifice. If you don’t want to change badly enough, you’re more likely to quit when the going gets tough. Sacrifices are made for something in which you see a lot of value.

For example, if you set your sights on running a marathon, you will have to sacrifice time for other things so that you can focus on training. If you prepare yourself mentally for what’s to come and what you wish to accomplish, then you will have the mindset required to push forward.

Liberation, Not Deprivation

Sacrifice tends to have negative associations like loss, deprivation, punishment, suffering, and even slaughter. Understandably, just the thought of making a sacrifice can cause anxiety. You may feel compelled to make a change, but you’re also filled with anxieties and fears. If you try to lose weight, you’ll wonder whether you’ll succeed or fail. If you change careers, you’ll worry over your ability to pay your bills. If you end a relationship, you’ll worry about what others will think.

“Sacrifice is a demand of the soul against the ego, passion against security — surrenders which may be liberation but often feel like defeat,” Levoy states. This may be true, but sacrifice also involves swapping a transient for something blissful. The very definition of sacrifice is “to make sacred.”

By making a sacrifice, you’re creating a connection with something greater than yourself – be it your community, nature, the future, the greater good, or even your own potential. We must reframe sacrifice from deprivation to liberation. Whatever you have to let go of, you do so for something greater. Recognize that you wouldn’t be able to liberate yourself without a sacrifice. And this is not defeat.

No Pain, No Gain

Regardless of whether your sacrifice is giving up your morning Pepsi or leaving a job you’ve had for years, you're letting go of something you want or thought you wanted. It will hurt. “If it doesn't hurt, it isn't sacrifice,” Levoy states. But remember – what you will gain is more valuable than what you will lose. And it’s not just the habit itself that’s bad; partaking in bad habits often lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety, incompetence, low self-esteem, and failure. Bad habits serve as tools that keep these negative emotions alive.

Remember your goal. Accomplishing goals (especially health and professional goals) is not easy, but it is very rewarding. Strive to meet your goal every day. Your positive changes should become second nature. It should become a passion of yours, something that you think about constantly.

Leaving a dead-end job, getting in the best shape of your life, or ending a hollow relationship is worth the chance at a more authentic life, a clearer conscience, and a deeper connection with something greater than yourself.

 About the Author

Through her site, FitWellTraveler, Jane shares her love of travel and health in hopes of impacting the lives of her readers.

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Katie Dobbs
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Katie grew up under the Big Sky of Montana, but she has since moved to the beautiful city of Seattle. She is a self-proclaimed food connoisseur who loves playing in the great outdoors, traveling, and learning new things.

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