This weekend I broke a promise to myself. As awareness kicked in, and I realized this was the second time it had happened with this particular issue. But let’s step back for a second.
Meriam-Webster describes a promise as a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified. Now we all break promises to ourselves and others from time to time as life circumstances can alter our plans. But in my case, there was no good reason for me to go back on my word to myself. Unfortunately, most do not see this as a big deal, as we all do it. How many times do we make New Years Resolutions only not to follow through on them? But, just because something is the norm doesn’t make it acceptable. Although I felt disappointed in myself when I realized I let myself down, I did not beat myself up. What I did was evaluate what breaking a promise means.
Whether we like to admit it or not, when we break a promise to a person, it communicates to them that we do not value him or her. We’ve placed something or someone else over the declaration we made to that person. If this continues to happen (pattern), people will no longer value our word as they cannot count on us, thus quickly deteriorating the quality of our relationships. Sounds pretty shitty, ha? So what does this mean when you break a promise to yourself? It’s the same; when we break promises to ourselves, we do not value ourselves enough to keep them. And remember, integrity starts with how we treat ourselves. Some find it easier or think it’s a noble thing to keep promises to others before themselves. What’s that about? At any rate, every time we break a promise to ourselves, we think it’s okay to let ourselves down, and that’s downright disrespectful. Can you see the weight of this? You matter in this world, and if someone else made a promise to you and broke it, you wouldn’t take that so lightly. So why do we think it’s okay to treat ourselves so poorly?
Most of the time, the promises we make to ourselves are always things that we know we need, like making our workout a priority, to say no more, to speak up for ourselves, to stop eating so much damn sugar, or to write that blog, and publish it, no matter what. Treat yourself like someone you highly respect, adore, and love dearly. Because if you don’t, the only person that suffers is you. The next time you think about breaking a promise to yourself, pretend you are your spouse or significant other that continually breaks promises to you. How would that make you feel? Unimportant, unworthy? You’d complain to your family and friends and ask, “Why does he/she always do this?” Well, arguably, you set the bar for allowing broken promises when you do not respect yourself enough to keep your promises to yourself. I asked myself one day, who the hell could I ever expect to love me enough to uplift me, keep their promises to me, and place me in high regard if I cannot do all of this for myself? When you justify, make excuses for, compromise, and ignore what should be placed first in your life, you’ve just told better-self to fuck off.
All is not lost, however. One of the main reasons we break promises to ourselves is because we bite off more than we can chew when making such declarations. If you know you need more physical activity in your life, don’t go out and purchase a damn gym membership. You aren’t going to any gym, and you know it. Start with a ten minute, brisk walk and move up from there. Make your promises bit-size pieces. If you know that you have a terrible habit of saying yes to everyone, make it a point to pause five minutes after someone asks you to do something. This pause gives you time to consider if you really want to do the thing. I find providing tentative answers work too. Let me check my calendar, you know, that sort of thing.
Whatever you do in your pursuit of betterment and happiness, put yourself first when it comes to your welfare, always remember the instructions the flight attendant always gives before departure: put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Because if you run out of air, trying to help others breathe, you both die. Just saying. You are as important as anyone else, and remember, you matter in this world.