Making a promise is a pretty simple and straightforward thing that all of us are familiar with and have been doing all of our lives.
And keeping a promise just seems like the flip side, it’s our word, we value it so we keep it. But as I sat down to write this blog (AFTER the day I promised it), I started to do some self-reflection on the power of a promise and the results kind of kicked me in the #$%!
You may not be like me, but it seems I give promises a rating scale. You know, the ones that really matter if you keep them, the ones that will be slightly annoying if you don’t, the ones that really don’t count if you break them. In fact, admittedly, some promises almost seem like they contain the knowing they will be broken when they are made. And some get rated by the consequence or inconvenience that I think they may cause when broken. And amidst this whole process, which is not necessarily conscious, I think of myself as someone reliable, who keeps their word, and honors their promises. Ouch! My self-perception isn’t really lining up with my reality.
But before you go and label me a big ol liar hear me out. I’m talking about things like telling someone I will call them back…wait stand by, have to make a phone call for a sec. Ok, I’m back. Oh yeah, the list of broken promises…. not showing up for a party when I said I would, sending a referral to someone I promised I’d send, taking the dog for a walk etc. And the ones I promise myself, like going to the gym, taking my supplements or purging my closet…there’s quite a few! In the past I’ve tossed them off and not really thought there’s any damage done if I don’t follow through but is that really true? Not keeping promises no matter how small they seem undermines relationships and trust not only with others, but also within us. When we don’t keep a promise it communicates that we don’t value that person, and that means ourselves.
Yes, things shift and change and flow and we need flexibility but making promises that we don’t keep gets under our skin and can wear away at our self-respect and self esteem.
Alex Sheen recognizes the power of promises. To honor his father after he died, this 20 something young man began a movement to support people in keeping their word.
“Because I said I would is a social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity. Our mission is to strengthen humanity’s will. Because I said I would encourages and supports making and keeping promises to end suffering, establish peace and build happiness. We created the Promise Card to help hold people accountable to their commitments.”
And I’ve come to the realization that the suffering Alex refers to is not only showing up in our work and our relationships but in our own hearts when we don’t keep our word.
I encourage us all to take some time to check in and see how we can be the better friend, co-worker, professional, human, we want to be by regarding our commitments as sacred and choosing to make promises wisely. I know it will empower and improve our world.
Check out how the Promise Card works and the organization that Alex started:
I’m going to and that’s a promise.
See you on set!