Our words contribute to healthy living and are just as important to us as good nutrition and exercise. Our words are powerful and carry weight. If we’re not careful, continually being casual with our word and promises may lead to unconscious feelings of guilt, unworthiness, self-blame and depression. Sound severe? Over time, this negatively effects our vitality and life force. It eats away at us until we believe we’re not worthy and can’t be trusted.
Leave it With Me . . .
Do you do what you say you’re going to do? Can people count on you? Think about it a bit before answering. If you begin to really pay attention to your words you may find that for the most part, you don’t always mean what you say. Our words and promises tend to be casual. Yeah, I’ll get to it. . . as and when. There are hidden consequences for this behavior operating behind the scenes that rob us of our life force and vitality.
If I have a habit of saying to my friend “Oh sure, I’ll do that for you.” and don’t do it, my friend feels disappointed and trusts me less and less. His or her disappointment will make me feel bad, so I silently beat myself up, piling on more negative beliefs about myself. These feelings inevitably get projected onto others, believing over time that we can’t trust anybody.
New Year’s Resolutions are a great example of people having the best intentions to follow through with a promise to do something for themselves. Have you heard the latest advice though? It’s been advised that people shouldn’t make new year’s resolutions because it’s been proven they don’t last. The gyms are empty by March kind-of-thing. Add another failure to the list – more enthusiasm lost.
In a previous employment, I was expected to live and work by my word. If I said I was going to do something, I had better do it. And to help me be successful, I was held accountable by my peers and manager. There were consequences for breaking your word as it negatively impacted the staff, assistants and the participants in the course we were producing.
The participants themselves were also held accountable. As an example, they made a promise to be on time and present in the course room during the entire course. If they showed up late or missed any part of the course, as a consequence they gave up their right to expect the promises of the course.
A high price to pay. The doors to the course room closed right on time. If participants were late, they were confronted outside by a staff member saying: “You’re late.”
Then follows all the denial and excuses . . .
- No I’m not
- My roommate was in the bathroom too long
- My alarm didn’t go off
- My watch stopped
- I didn’t get to breakfast on time
- I didn’t remember the start time
- on and on
The staff didn’t care about excuses or blame. They wanted an acknowledgment, something like: “Yes, I’m late and I won’t do it again.” That simple. The ego mind, however, would not come up with something that simple. It would argue, try to get sympathy, be rational, protect itself, etc. anything but declare – Yeah, I was late.
Going against our word and promises has a negative effect on our vitality. A simple acknowledgment puts us back on track, as does cleaning up consequences from not keeping our word: i.e. I didn’t do what I said I was going to do, you can count on me to keep my word from now on, and here’s what I’m going to do to clean this up.
Listen to your mind the next time you’re confronted with disappointment from a broken promise. It will immediately throw up excuses, reasons and blame in order to be right and not face consequences. It took participants many days in the course to begin to see where they were out of integrity in their lives. How do you feel when others don’t keep their promises with you?
We are programmed, however, to accept this as normal. It used to be when someone gave their “word” it was good enough and could be trusted. So, what happened? We have seen many politicians (as an example) make promises that go unfulfilled and we say to ourselves and each other: “That’s expected.” or “That’s typical.” Why do we brush these things off? How have we let them become common place? Where’s the accountability to the people?
What we don’t hear is:
“My fellow Countrymen, during my last speech I made a promise to _________ and to this day I haven’t made good on that promise. Here’s what I’m going to do to clean it up.”
What about at work. Do you have a boss or company making promises that aren’t fulfilled or acknowledged? Do you call them out on it and hold them accountable? Many of us automatically expect to be let down, again, as typical.
Change starts with you:
- Watch your thoughts and your words.
- Think before you speak.
- Do I really need to say this?
- Do I really mean what I say?
- Is that a promise I just made?
- Can I make good on that?
If you really want to accomplish something and need support, find a trusted person in your life and share your goals with them. Ask them to hold you accountable and be a committed listener. This will make a huge difference to your success!
Another thing to keep in mind if you are habitually not keeping your promises – stop making them. Many people feel pressured to ‘have to make a promise’ knowing full well they are not capable of keeping it. The pressure may always be there to make promises, however the more you stop making promises you know you can’t keep, the easier it is to say nothing the next time. You’ll feel much better about yourself and a weight will be lifted!
With small changes, you’ll see your vitality and well-being return and feel a sense of power grow within you. Give it a try and feel free to share with others how making these changes affect your life!
Look to see if you have any outstanding promises yet to be delivered. If you know you can’t make good on some of them, then own up to it and say so. If there’s some you can still deliver on – then get going! Your vitality will increase exponentially when you own what you say.
For more posts on Werner Erhard and/or transformational technology –
- Transformation of Fear: Moving From Fear into Action and Engagement: An Account of Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
- Werner speaks on compassion: Finding Your Humanity in Times of Stressful and Uncertain World Politics
- Werner speaks on being authentic: Authenticity: Being True to Yourself is the Greatest Gift
- On transformation and presentation: A Long-Awaited Change is Coming: Don’t be Surprised if Your Life Starts Shifting in a Powerful Way!
- 5. Accountability and personal experience as a 6 Day Advanced Course staff member: How Paying Attention to Your Words can Increase Your Life Force and Vitality
- Moving forward from the future: Creating a Future of Possibility
- The shape of organizations: Let’s Cut Their Tea and Coffee – That’ll Surely Help the Bottom Line!