How did you do with your plan? Every time we commit to up-our-game, reach for a little higher goal or speak our truth out loud, there are always two forces that kick-in to hold us back and put a self-defeating voice into our plan for self-improvement. I think it is helpful to visualize these forces so that it is easier to deal with them. They don’t go away; we have to be alert to them. I call the first “our little voice” or the Loony (NH) bird.
Let’s start with how our “little voice” works. You make a promise, set a goal and “our little voice” starts chattering away like a loon calling in our ears. Here are two examples of what it sounds like. You tell your daughter that you will pick her up at 5PM, right outside the gym, because she’s nervous waiting by herself. Your “little voice” says to you as you are running late at work, “you really didn’t promise her to be there on time…you said you would try…she needs to be more independent anyway.” Secondly, you say in the morning that you want to stop eating dessert but you didn’t know that you were going out to dinner tonight and that cheese cake was going to be on the menu. You love cheese cake. The Loony bird says to you, “You didn’t say that you were definitely going to start tonight…there’s always tomorrow…you deserve a treat…you worked hard all day.”
Can you begin to see the picture? Can you hear those self-defeating voices in your ear? You are not crazy. We all have them if we stop and listen to how we talk ourselves out of “Keeping Our Word.” Many people say, “I always keep my word…even with some indignation that you are even raising the question. What about the two examples above. Who would squirm out? The first, by saying, “I tried…I never actually promised…never said – cross my heart and hope to die.” Really? The word “try” is a dagger to the heart of keeping promises. “Try” does not equal “I kept my word.” “Try” is an excuse, a reason to explain why you didn’t keep your word. “Keeping Our Word”, which is another way of saying, do exactly what you say you will do, is one building block that no one can take from us and is the backbone of any healthy individual or family leader.
The whole point of “Giving Your Word” is to keep it and stick to it! It is easy when your motivation is high, you have no distractions, you’re in a good mood and everyone agrees with you. It’s a commitment when the going gets tough, you have to stand alone, and it’s not popular anymore. There are things that are not negotiable; it’s about you honoring yourself.
The leader of a family has to have “impeccable word.” If you don’t have it now, the plan to get it back starts right now. It is one building block at a time – don’t give your word, if you can’t keep it. It is precious. If that parent drove up at 5PM to pick up that daughter, she would have known that she counts, she’s very important. That cheese cake connoisseur would have gone home with victorious pride in victory and feeling 5 pounds lighter.
Commit to something important like family well-being. Stick to it through thick and thin. Ask for help when needed. Keep your word! If you want to know what the second force is that works against our efforts to keep our word, just ask me. Let’s keep talking about this article in the comments below.