The alarm goes off, it’s 4am, you told yourself you would get up and start your new meditation routine this morning, but you’re tired, so you hit the snooze button. You’ll just start up tomorrow.
You head to the kitchen and mechanically pick up the bagels but then you remember you told yourself you were going to eat a bowl of fruit this morning instead…You continue with your bagel motion and tell yourself you will just start tomorrow morning because you already took it out of the bag.
It’s 1pm. You told yourself you were going to go to the gym at lunch, but you are busy with work and still pretty tired from your lack of sleep last night so you will just go after work instead.
It’s 5pm. You’re off of work and don’t feel like going to the gym because it was a long day. You tell yourself you’ll just start tomorrow…
We make commitments and promises to ourselves all of the time and most often, we make these promises because they are good for our wellbeing. Every single day, multiple times a day, we are plotting, planning, and making promises to ourselves about things we would like to do and to have done to enhance our well being in some capacity.
Some are more sizable commitments, such as I am going to create and sustain personal boundaries and some are more simple, such as I am going to talk a 5 minute walk every morning. Once we’ve made these promises, we will either do them or not. We will either go on the 5 minute walk or not. We will either create and sustain personal boundaries, or neglect and ignore our personal needs.
Okay so I didn’t go on a walk today, I’ll just go tomorrow. No big deal.
It is a big deal Howie. Regardless of perceived magnitude, if you make a firm commitment, a promise, to yourself and you don’t follow through with it, you are sending yourself a message. You are communicating your worth.
You are saying, Hey I know I committed to do this thing, but you are unworthy of my trust. I don’t value you enough to stick to my word. You don’t mean enough to me, to do the thing I said I would do. The problem with breaking the “little” promises, such as waking up at 7am or taking a 5 minute walk on your lunch break, is that it is seemingly negligible. You tell yourself it’s okay to break those promises because [insert excuse prompted by guilt here ie: “I didn’t really mean it. I didn’t really care that much. I didn’t mean today, I meant next week. I simply couldn’t have done it today, I was swamped”]. The problem with breaking those little promises is the compound effect.
You start to view commitments as options.
When you consistently break your promises to yourself, you are establishing a relationship with yourself based on unreliability. You can’t really trust that you will do what you said you would, because history says otherwise. You can’t really count on yourself to follow through because you haven’t in the past.
If you had a best friend that made promises to you and continually broke those promises, how would you feel about them? Would you trust them when they said they were going to do something? Would you rely on them? Would you feel that they respected and valued you and your time?
Reason indicates that you wouldn’t. Now what if that friend was you?