How to fix our broken promises

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Guess what?  It happens.  To all of us.  Any of you ever make a promise you couldn’t keep?  Ever said words and then needed to retract them?  Or wish you could? Maybe it wasn’t that you intended on breaking the promise, but it happened.  Unfortunately, it happens to all of us.  Who hasn’t written in a high school yearbook, “Keep In Touch” or been someone’s “BFF”? Some people have promised to love another “til death do us part”, only to grow apart instead.  I am sure come every January, there are plenty of people who make themselves a resolution about something they way to change about themselves, only to fall short, just s few short months later.  (If they lasted that long.)

Ever made a promise and kept it?  Maybe it was a wedding vow, said some 25, 50 or even 75 years earlier.  Perhaps it was staying friends with someone from elementary school. (I have always wondered what that would be like.)  When your children are born, and you are instantly committed to unconditionally loving them forever.  When you commit to way of life.  When you decide that any other way is NOT even an option.  It HAS to be this way.  Period.  Ever made a promise like that?

I will admit…I have broken many promises in my life, but I never thought I would.  My words and the meaning behind each one stand for something and represent me.  I have committed to something and then had to walk away.  In some cases, I ran.  Not because I wanted to, but because I had to.  I never thought I would leave California, and I wanted to be a lawyer. I have made promises to others and I have broken them.  People have done the same to me.  I have vowed not to do something and the next thing I am doing, is I am breaking that vow.  And I get really disgusted for myself for falling into that trap, once again.   I, too, wrote in many yearbooks that we would “stay in touch” and we never did.  Places like Facebook have allowed past friends from junior high and high school to reconnect and feel like we are once again, apart of one another’s lives.

I have made promises to myself that I have not been able to keep and I have been hard on myself for breaking them. Those hurt.  Maybe it is guilt.  Maybe it is because I don’t want to get into a habit of saying words that I don’t mean.  Not that I ever will, but I never want to be labeled as someone who just says things and never follows through.  We all know people like that.   For example, I promise myself to get up 5 days a week and walk 5 miles — the truth is, I get to it 3 days a week.  And how do I feel about the other 2 days?  I put myself through the ringer.  How about the promise of spending more time with my husband?  I get sidetracked with work I need to do, books I need to read, something I need to write, or a quote that just came to me.  It is difficult for me sometimes.  How many of us tell a friend, “Let’s get together for dinner and drinks?” And then what happens?  NOTHING.  

How to make and keep promises:

Because we all break promises (even pinky promises), we need to find a way to keep as many as we can.

  • Write it down.  If you don’t, you are bound to forget it.  Seeing it everyday reminds you and it becomes something you want, even when you are not thinking about it.

  • Work at it.  It will NOT happen by itself or overnight.  You might hate getting up early in the morning at the time, but it is better than the guilt you will feel later.

  • Schedule what you want.  If you need a date night, get it on the calendar.  Don’t be afraid to tell other people “no” if you have a conflict.  They will understand.

  • Don’t promise something you don’t want.  If someone else obligates me to something, chances are, I won’t stick with it.

  • Pick up where you left off.  Even if I miss a day of walking today, it doesn’t mean I am done forever.  Recommit.

  • Understand this — we make and keep the promises not because of what we believe about others, but because of what we believe about ourselves.

  • Reevaluate. Give yourself a chance at redemption.  Think about how you can make it better.

The tricky part of any self-discovery is admitting that we are all works in progress.  We all grow differently and believe differently.  But none of us likes a bond to be broken — even if it is one that only we know about.   Some of us struggle more than others.   Where do you struggle with broken promises. Everyone one of us has had words spoken that never came true.  A deed guaranteed was left undone.   They lost their meaning not because of the intention because that has remained solid.  Their meaning is lost because of something being different — something changed.  If we are allowed to change and grow, shouldn’t our promises be allowed the same?  And behind every broken promise lies one thing…forgiveness.  

How have you broken promises? What have you done to rectify them?  What can you do to make it better?  Are you full of guilt? Have you asked for forgiveness?  Have you tried to recommit to the promise you made? But the big question is none of these…the big question is,

“If you want it to be different and have done nothing to make it the way you want it, why not?”

Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©

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