We make promises or agreements with others all the time. While the level of trust others have with us is determined by our ability to keep our promises, the level of trust we have with ourselves is far more important.
Our ability to keep our word says a lot about who we are and what our values are in life. Think back to all the times you have made a commitment to yourself — to do some form of exercise a few times a week, resist the temptation to have that extra piece of cake, or say no next time someone tries to take advantage of you. How did it make you feel when you were failed to keep your commitment?
Every time we have not made good on our commitment or promise to ourselves, we lose trust in ourselves to follow through on what we had set out to do. It is hard to keep promises with others if we are unable to keep promises with ourselves.
It is very easy to dismiss or pretend it isn’t a big deal if we don’t keep the promises we make to ourselves. After-all, no one else is affected, right? The truth is every time we don’t stay true to our word, we:
- Lower our self-esteem.
- Reduce our self-confidence.
- Question our ability to be trusted.
- Experience negative thoughts and emotions.
The key is to form the habit of only making promises or agreements we can keep, whether it is with others or with ourselves. Here are five ways to ensure we keep the promises we make to ourselves, which in turn, will also help us keep the promises we make to others.
- Be clear on what you are committing to. The first step is to take our commitments really seriously and understand the impact of our promises or agreements. There are consequences for not doing something we said we would and we must know what they are before we commit to anything.
- Do not overcommit. It goes without saying that the less things we commit to, the less likely we are to break our commitments. When we take on more than we can handle, that’s when we tend to get ourselves into trouble. Start small then add to it over time.
- Hold yourself accountable. We must set ourselves high standards and be willing to maintain those standards. We can enrol others like accountability partners, friends or mentors to help keep us on track. It is about training ourselves to only commit to things we want to do, not things we feel obliged to do or have no emotional attachment to.
- Set yourself reminders of your commitments. With the level of technology we have today, there should really not be any excuses for forgetting to do something. We have so many apps we can use on our smart devices to keep track and remind us of the things we have to do. It also will be helpful to actually schedule time in our calendars for our commitments. That way, we clearly know what we have agreed to do and how much time is required.
- Use the reward or consequence technique. We tend to be driven by the need for reward or the need to avoid pain or consequence of some kind. If you know you are driven by reward, decide on something nice you will do for yourself when you complete your commitment. On the other hand, if you’re more driven by the avoidance of pain, set yourself a consequence that will be more painful if you do not do what you have agreed to.
The promises we make to others and to ourselves play a vital role in how we behave and how others interact with us. If we are not able to keep our promises, it won’t take long for others to lose our trust, which can also jeopardise the relationships we have with others.
If we do keep our promises, we will be known as someone who can be counted on and trusted, which will result in us having strong and healthy relationships with others. Our word is our bond!
Question: What are some things you do to ensure you keep the promises you make to yourself?
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