“Every time you break a promise, you are loading your karmic backpack with the pebbles of broken agreements.” Patrick Ryan
Are you trustworthy? Do you keep promises you make to others? What about promises you make to yourself?
First, a story:*
Let’s say you are having a conversation with a friend and you mention that you are going to start running every morning.
Your friend says “Hey! That sounds great. I’d love to run too. Mind if I join you?”
“That will be great,” you respond. “Meet me at the bench by the lake at 7 am.”
“You’re on,” your friend agrees.
The next morning you suit up and head to the lake. You are there five minutes early. You wait for your friend. 7:00 comes and goes. By 7:15, having heard nothing from your friend, you decide to go for your run so you can get on with your day.
Later that day, you run into your friend at the coffee house.You ask them, “What happened?
“Oh, I overslept, but I really want to go. I’ll meet you tomorrow morning. Same place and time?”
“Sure!“ you respond.
The next morning you suit up and head back to the lake, eager to run. You are there before 7:00 and you wait for 15 minutes, but your friend does not show up and there are no texts on your cell. Disappointed and a bit miffed, you go for your run.
Later that day, you call your friend and say “Hey, where were you this morning?”
Your friend responds, “Oh, I forgot. I’m so sorry. I will be there tomorrow for sure.”
Tomorrow comes, you are at the bench by the lake waiting for your friend who is a no-show a.g.a.i.n. You go for your run and as you pass the gas station, you see your friend there filling up his car. All you get is a wave and a smile, like nothing happened.
You run up to them and jogging, in place, you say “You said you would meet me at 7:00 three mornings in a row now and you have been a no-show all three mornings. What is your excuse today?”
Your friend says “Don’t get on my case. I just didn’t feel like it today.”
You can guess how the rest of this story goes.
Is this friend trustworthy? Are you likely to believe him the next time he promises anything to you?
Every time you make an agreement with yourself and then don’t follow through, you are being that kind of friend to yourself. You are completely untrustworthy. You are abandoning yourself.
What is the one thing (maybe more than one) that you have been saying you want to do that you never seem to get to. The thing that you’ve toyed with but abandoned, not for lack of interest, but for some other reason: circumstances, not sure how to proceed, money, time, etc.
Do you want to write or pursue some creative endeavor?
Do you want to lose weight, get fit, run a marathon?
Do you want to learn a new language or how to play piano?
Do you want to curtail your Facebook addiction?
Do you want to build a new business?
Commit to a plan to accomplish it and be your best, most trustworthy friend, by following through on your commitment.
When you erode your self trust, it has a far-reaching impact. It gives your inner critic free license and opportunities to berate you for being so unreliable and weak. The sting of “failure,” day after day, as the promise is made and broken over and over again erodes your self-esteem, your hope, your sense of worthiness and sends your dreams farther out on the horizon.
Before long, you begin to lose faith in yourself and your passions. Your trickster hisses things in your inner ear that have you believe you were never meant to do these things anyway. It’s all a pack of lies to which you have fallen prey, by your own hand.
To rebuild trust in yourself, if it feels too overwhelming to take on a large project like lose 25 lbs or write a book, chunk it down into bite sized agreements. Make a commitment you know you can and will meet. Because the point is rebuilding trust and confidence in yourself, you want a string of consistent wins.
Start with something easy and simple, like I will not look at Facebook for the next hour or I will not hunt through the kitchen cabinets for snacks for one hour, or between now and dinner.
Then you can re-commit to the next hour, the next small goal.
Another advantage to a bite-sized commitment is if you fail to meet it, it is short term and you can re-commit immediately. A caveat! This is not a free pass to indulgence as in: Commit, indulge, recommit. That would only erode your trust in yourself and send you down the spiral of self-abandonment.
If it is helpful for you, invite someone to be an accountability buddy; someone who wants to do the same and check in with a phone call, text or email (but don’t read other emails) when you begin and end your commitment. A simple text: going for my run now to start and end with: I’ve completed my run. with some celebration emoji.If your accountability buddy lets you off the hook too often, find another one.
Bite sized agreements also allow you to be realistic about your commitments. They give you time to observe what truly works for you and what doesn’t, as well as the ways you talk to yourself and how your emotions impact your discipline. Too often we make huge commitments and then find it difficult to hold to them in the face of changing circumstances. It’s not that it can’t be done and it is more challenging.
Whatever it is you want to create for yourself, make a plan, chunk it down, and make many tiny commitments to rebuild your self-trust. Put on your “running shoes” and meet your self at the “the bench by the lake.” It will also do wonders for your self-esteem and confidence and you will see your dreams moving in closer and closer to shore.
In upcoming posts, I will cover momentum and emotional aspects of commitments to yourself.
Copyright©September 2015, Kathy J Loh all rights reserved
*This is a paraphrase of a story I heard Patrick Ryan tell in one of his Awakened Wisdom workshops. The opening quote is from his book, Awakened Wisdom.
If you feel the services of a coach will help you get and stay on track, I invite you to consider hiring me as your coach.