Passover and Easter are upon us. During these Holidays, I hear people talking about giving something up – like sweets, sodas, swearing, smoking, etc., until the Holidays pass and then returning to usual practice. The act of giving something up represents a sacrifice of our self and turning towards God. It is also to create the experience of deprivation, to have a tiny taste of suffering which the Hebrew people endured in slavery under the oppression of the Egyptian Pharaoh. This annual tradition of self restraint commemorates the events surrounding the Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt - ending Pharaoh’s harsh dictatorship and freedom to once again live as liberated people.
It occurred to me that each of us has our own types of oppression – like not feeling good about our self, lacking confidence, addictions, bad habits, some part of us that we don’t like and perhaps is not healthy. During this time of year when we are practicing self discipline and celebrating freedom, wouldn’t it be better to permanently give something up that oppresses us and replace it with something beneficial?
Here are some suggestions.
Chronic need of approval – for acceptance of self.
A negative attitude - for affirming your and others’ positive attributes.
Fear of looking bad - for giving yourself some slack.
Yelling - for communicating frustrations calmly by explaining in specific words.
Fear of spiders - for finding a way to deal with them.
Pleasing others at the detriment to self - for being true to yourself, others, with assertive expression.
Fear of communicating - for practicing confidence to state your position in a respectful way.
Drugs, alcohol, excessive eating, gambling, tobacco - for fun, physical activity, good nutrition, recreation and solid friendships.
Consider what you can give up and be free.
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Questions to Sophie is a new question and answer column addressing reflections on work, family, friendship and personal issues. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to The Hamburg Area Item office. Please submit by the editorial deadline.
The column is by Suzanne Kline a practicing psychologist born and raised in the Hamburg area.