Life Lessons: Honoring Our Commitments

Someone told me that the secret to relationships is honoring your commitments. This really stuck with me. We’ve all done it, we’ve all broken promises to our friends, family member’s, co-workers and even ourselves. We say we will be at that party, we will have a date night with our spouse, we will read that book, we will run that 5K… and then we don’t. According to Psychology Today in an article titled Why Keeping Your Promise is Good For You, “When we don’t keep a promise to someone, it communicates to that person that we don’t value him or her. We have chosen to put something else ahead of our commitment.[…] Not keeping a promise is the same as disrespecting yourself. Ultimately it can harm our self-image, self-esteem, and our life.” So let’s dig a little more into the psychology of commitments, how we can better honor our commitments to others and ourselves, and how to handle a commitment you have to break.

She honored her commitments &thenShe formed unbreakable relationships, &thenShe trusted herself again, &thenShe

Life Lessons: Honoring Your Commitments

Sticking to Commitments to Others

Commitments to Friends

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As we enter the holiday season, we may start to get quite a few invitations to holiday parties and gatherings from friends. One of my favorite pieces of advice is “Clarity is Kindness“. Maybe we can’t make it to all those holiday events, or maybe you just need a break from outings, that’s okay, just don’t leave invitations hanging. Be kind by being clear with your friends as early as possible. We all know what it’s like to plan an event and try to get a headcount beforehand. Send them a message as soon as you know you won’t make it “I won’t be able to make it, but I so appreciate you thinking of us!” However, if you do accept the invite, follow through on that promise, people are counting on you.

It’s also worth considering your “why” behind declining an invite. I hear a lot of people lately confusing introverts with social anxiety. I also hear the term “ghosting” a lot, which is the practice of ending all communication and contact with another person, typically out of nowhere. Ghosting can cause very serious mental health problems for both you and the person your “ghosting”, please don’t ever do this. Be honest, be clear and have integrity. However, if you are declining an invite due to fear and anxiety, you may have social anxiety and help is available. According to the National Institute of Mental Health ” People with social anxiety disorder may worry about […] things for weeks before they happen. Sometimes, they end up staying away from places or events where they think they might have to do something that will embarrass them.” I would hate to have you miss out on events due to an undiagnosed mental health disorder. It’s worth looking into if you find yourself cancelling social events frequently.

Commitments to Family

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Family is such an important group in our lives, perhaps they are so prevalent in our lives that we take for granted that they should be treated as equally as everyone else in our lives. Honoring commitments to your family takes integrity. If your friends invite you last minute to a fun Friendsgiving, but you already told mom you would be there for Thanksgiving, honor your commitment. Take it from my favorite, Brené Brown:

Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.

Brené Brown

Commitments to Significant Others

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Honoring our commitments to our significant others, even the small ones, builds trust. And unfortunately, breaking those commitments, even the small ones, deteriorates trust. Our significant others are probably the most forgiving people we know, which is why we like them so much. If you think about it, the most important person in our lives likely has the most broken promises from us. That’s a hard reality to hear. “I will take out the garbage tonight”, “Let’s have a date night this Friday”, “I will call the mechanic this week”. Sound familiar? Whether it’s big or small, when we break a promise to our spouse, we are inferring the worth and value of that task. We disrespect our spouse by putting something else ahead of the commitment we made to them. Be realistic about your promises before you say them, and once you make it, recognize that it’s a commitment and prioritize it. The trust in your relationship will flourish once you honor these promises more regularly.

Every healthy relationship has embraced that they must endure occasional broken promises. As long as the broken promise is not too severe, it’s okay. The next time you find yourself breaking a promise, try apologizing and including a “this is how I will make it up to you” statement and “this is why it won’t happen again” statement.

If nothing, learn from the classics like Jingle All the Way. Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing the father Howard, becomes a pathological broken promise guy, he continues to let his son and wife down to where the trust has been almost completely lost. He makes one more attempt to rebuild trust by promising to get a sought after toy on Christmas for his son. Let’s just say he ends up in a ridiculous, stressful, and dangerous situation while constantly testing his morals in order to prove he can keep his promise to his loved ones. Just remember, don’t be like Howard!

Sticking to Commitments to Yourself

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When was the last time you broke a promise to yourself? We all do it, sometimes we put out lofty new year resolutions or even speak about small goals that we forget about. Breaking commitments to yourself can be a form of self sabotage and we have to be more careful with ourselves. As you break more and more commitments, you lose credibility and confidence with yourself and your self image starts to crumble. As you continue to break promises to yourself, you start to identify with these behaviors as a part of your character, which makes it hard to change the behavior. You start to not believe yourself when you say you will do things. Start reversing this behavior by making small promises to yourself and rewarding yourself for those achievements. Forgive yourself for your past and know that you are worth keeping promises to. You are capable of anything you put your mind to!

When You Have to Break a Commitment

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It happens, sometimes we have to cancel an appointment, or break a promise. Sometimes we know well in advance, sometimes we find out the day of. Here’s the best way to break a commitment to someone else.

First, try your hardest to be there or to complete the task you promised even if late or delayed.

Next, apologize and be honest. Remember, clarity is kindness.

Finally, reschedule or make it up to them. Don’t just finish with a cancellation, follow through with an invite for a later date or find creative ways to make it up to the other person. This will tell your friends and family that you still value them!

The best way to break a commitment to yourself is to assure you have understood the primary reason you will be breaking that commitment. Perhaps you wanted to run a 5k but have a broken ankle, perhaps you wanted to write a book but realized you tried it and really didn’t enjoy writing. First, write yourself a note as to why you cannot achieve that goal or promise anymore. Maybe you realize that goal is no longer important or relevant to you. That’s okay, it happens. Write a journal entry and stay curious in understanding the depths of not completing that goal. If you find you are not finishing a goal because you forgot, you have underlying fears or insecurities, then try again and seek accountability. Finally, be kind to yourself and make it up to yourself! Broke an ankle and can’t do a 5k, what about spending your down time finishing those books sitting on your end table? Then sign up for a 5K for next year! Set new goals and commitments to yourself and try your absolute hardest to achieve them even if they don’t occur exactly when or how you thought they would. Be flexible, stay curious, be kind to yourself and stay committed to yourself because you are worth it!

I would love to hear your thoughts on today’s topic. Drop a comment below or message me!

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