I used to be someone who didn’t keep most of her promises. In the heat of the moment, possibly due to my excitement of the connection, I would tell the person that I would do something for them or with them but wouldn’t follow through most of the time. I would watch myself make promises that I knew I wasn’t willing to follow up on but I made them anyway. I felt like a train out of control, heading towards a major crash. I just could not stop.
The Wake-Up Call
I started feeling badly about myself. I doubted my own word. If I said, “I am going to start doing yoga again”, it felt empty inside. My words felt like lies as they dripped out of my mouth. Socially, I withdrew from people because I couldn’t face seeing them at a party or a networking event knowing that I hadn’t delivered what I had said I would.
I hit my rock bottom when someone I liked and respected called me out on my failure to stand behind my word. By not delivering my promise, I had damaged the trust between us badly. In fact, I knew that it was irreparable from the look on his face.
I needed that wake up call. The shrieking ring of this unexpected call pierced through the walls of my calcified ego pattern. Sometimes, when we’ve been stuck in a pattern for so long, a rock bottom type of experience needs to happen. One where we lose face, respect, connection, love or approval. It has to hit us on a survival level for it to open our eyes for us to see the train that is about the fly off the bridge. Full speed. I believe that is what I experienced. My professional life as a false-promise-maker was officially over.
That night I went home and locked myself in the bedroom. I felt like crap. I thought, “If the word that comes out of my own mouth is not to be trusted, then what do I have to offer to the world?” It was the right question to ask and I was terrified of the answer. I had a good reason to be.
The Conscious Promise
It felt like a scene from a cartoon movie. All the promises I had failed to keep had turned into a snowball and had crushed me. I had gotten the message. Loud and clear. After that experience, I swore to not make promises that I can’t keep anymore. Suddenly, I felt stronger. I felt like a good person who had something to offer to the planet besides her empty promises. This truth was coming deep from within my soul. It felt like gravity. Real. Unshakeable. I knew deep in my cells that the price of breaking this promise was the costliest of all broken promises.
Now, I do my very best to keep my promises and don’t make promises I can’t keep. It is not perfect but the follow-up is always there. If I can’t keep it due to some unforeseen factors, then I inform the person so they don’t feel dropped and I don’t damage the trust between us. I apply this value to even my random Craigslist correspondences. People usually appreciate the follow-through and feel valued. Then I feel even better about who I am. This is a good cycle I plan to keep rolling in.
I realized that it doesn’t take that much for us to feel better about who we are. We don’t really need to be perfect to feel good about ourselves. I’ve never been perfect. But I know what feeling good about who I am is like. It feels like a million bucks! If my word is solid, I’ve got nothing to worry about.
Without changing anything else, if we make a vow to be true to our word, to keep our promises (including the ones we make to ourselves) and kept practicing that, we can start making big strides towards unshakable self-worth. When we trust ourselves, we can trust life, let alone other people.
The Unexpected Gift
I am experiencing an unexpected benefit from practicing my vow. People who have trust issues are able to eventually trust me (in their own time) by witnessing me say what I mean, mean what I say and follow through with my word. It indirectly teaches them what to look for in people for them to develop trust, instead of just blankly distrusting everyone they encounter. It offers them consistency and predictability. They see that some people can be trusted. It becomes a healing practice and creates orgasmic ripple effects in my psyche.
The one question you can ask yourself to begin trusting your own words is, “In which ways do I compromise the integrity of my word?”
Believe me, I know that it is not an easy one to ask. It may even make you cringe. That’s a good sign. It means that the awareness of what doesn’t feel authentic has arrived and that there are ripe fruits on that tree of awareness ready to be picked. Only you can pick them. Those fruits may have a somewhat bitter coating but the juicy, sweet, luscious part is worth enduring the initial kick.