The Promises You Make To Yourself

Written by: Jorinde Berben
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It’s late on a Thursday evening. My last few weeks have been super busy and quite stressful. I’m averaging six hours of sleep for the last two weeks (I need eight, like most people) and I have quite a bit of unfinished school work. I’m feeling utterly exhausted. And yet, I’m here, writing this post, because I made a promise to myself: I write two posts a week, one on Wednesday or Thursday, one on Saturday or Sunday. This gets priority.

I don’t do this for you, per sé. None of you are anxiously awaiting a new blogpost today, I know that. You have your own lives to worry about, I can relate.
No, I do this for me. At some point, shortly after I started this blog, that’s the rhythm I decided on. And for some magical reason, this is one promise to myself I haven’t yet broken.

I mentioned in this post how my daughter had come up with the idea of quitting sugar for the duration of lent. A few days after she started, she was tempted and ate something sugary. Afterwards she told me she felt bad about it, because she broke a promise.
“A promise to whom?” I asked (I insist on correct grammar).
“A promise to myself” she said.
I acknowledged: “It feels bad when you break a promise to yourself, doesn’t it?”
She nodded.

We all know how this feels. We’ve all let go of resolutions or gone back into behaviours we’d told ourselves we were going to quit. It feels awful, and it has nasty consequences in the long run, too

Mel Robbins has described the impact of pressing the snooze button on your alarm clock as ‘letting yourself down’, and ultimately, losing trust in yourself. Each time you set the alarm, you make a promise to yourself. Pressing the snooze button is breaking that promise, and it’s not the best tone to set for the start of the day.
I personally don’t feel this urge to get up right away (the first ten minutes of the day are usually cuddle time for me and my son) but I do recognize the impact of breaking these small contracts you make with yourself: You start to believe that you can’t do what you’ve set out to do. You begin to lose your confidence, your trust. You start to lose faith in yourself.

Having faith in ourselves means we can rely on what we are going to do and say in any given situation. Sure, life is unpredictable, but if we can rely on ourselves to do the best we can, be as kind as we hope to be and persevere when things get rough, it’s so much easier to deal with that unpredictability. You build this reliance through showing yourself, time and time again, that you WILL make the right decision, that you CAN follow up on your promises.

Training yourself to believe in yourself can start out with little things, such as getting out of bed in the morning. You can build self-trust by sticking to an exercise regime or not binge watching Netflix when you’ve decided you’d prefer to read. Or you can do it by writing regular blog posts when you’ve made the commitment to do so.

There are some added benefits to this. In this previous post I’ve discussed how the beliefs we hold of ourselves can shape our personality. The thing is, those beliefs are often supported by evidence we see. I’ve been convinced, for a long time, that I hate running. Yet, I’ve been doing it on a regular basis for over six months now, and my idea of myself is starting to shift. I notice that I can actually enjoy it.
The same goes for writing: I always felt like the wannabe writer who just couldn’t put pen to paper, even after I’d had a couple of non-fiction books for children published. But now I can’t deny the fact that I’ve been writing these articles, putting time and effort into them, creating pieces that I feel are worth reading, for nearly a year. It looks like I might just be a writer of sorts.

If you find yourself breaking the promises you make to yourself, it can be interesting to find out why. Are they really your plans and goals or are they imposed by cultural standards? Are the promises you make too hard to keep? Do you feel you deserve what you’ve promised yourself? Do you love yourself enough to give yourself what you desire?

So there it is, another blog post, on time (if only just). Another promise to myself that I’ve kept.

What promises are you making yourself? Which ones, if any, are you breaking? Which ones do you keep?

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