Can you trust yourself? How many times have you promised yourself you were going to save money, lose weight, or become fluent in German? You’ve likely made thousands of promises to yourself and broken the majority of them. Oh, and not just you, me too (except the learning German bit 😉).
So when I came across the following strategies I had to turn them into a post, not just for you but me, too.
You do this every day. It can be as simple as saying, “I’m going to get started on my work after the next TV advert,” yet the advert comes and goes, and you make a new deal with yourself.
This has consequences. You’re teaching yourself that you don’t have to take yourself seriously. You’re implicitly teaching yourself that it’s okay to let yourself down.
Trusting and believing yourself is important. After all, if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?
Practice these techniques to keep your promises to yourself and add integrity to every part of your life:
- Use your past as a reference. If you’ve promised yourself that you were going to learn German for an hour every day but came up short, it might be better to set a more reasonable goal. Practising German for 5 – 10 minutes every day is a lot better than failing to practise for an hour every day. Make reasonable promises to yourself.
- Put your promises on paper. Thoughts are a funny thing. They sort of feel real, but they sort of don’t. Writing them down is more concrete. Keep your written promises where you can see them regularly and review them every so often.
- Ask yourself if you mean it and listen to the answer. Deep down, you know if you’re serious about your promises. After you make a promise to yourself, ask yourself if you really mean it. Listen to the answer you receive and respect it. If you’re not going to honor the promise you made to yourself, make another one. If you’re not really interested in learning German because you’d rather learn a different language, then promise yourself that you will learn the other language (although I can’t understand why anybody would want to – only joking!)
- Change your beliefs about promises to yourself. Most of us are much better at keeping promises we make to others than we are at keeping promises we make to ourselves.
Sometimes we think that it’s okay to let ourselves down. But if you believe that you matter as much as everyone else, this attitude won’t be acceptable to you.
- Accept the discomfort that comes from fulfilling your promises. Why don’t you keep a promise? It’s only because doing so is more uncomfortable than not doing it. So, it stands to reason that if you were better at dealing with discomfort, you would keep more of your promises. When you’re feeling uncomfortable, be determined to work through it.
Avoiding discomfort or confronting it is a habit. Build the habit that will serve you the best. Dealing with discomfort is among the most valuable skills you can build. (Note to self: it doesn’t matter that it’s raining. Go for that walk or run!)
- What would you think of someone that made promises to you and broke them regularly? Would you date that person or call them your friend for long? You think less of yourself when you break a promise to yourself. You can see this by considering how you would think about someone else doing the same to you. You wouldn’t think much of them. That’s what you’re doing to your opinion of yourself. Nothing good comes of this. You might not notice it, since it’s happening every day.
Keeping promises to yourself is generally more important than keeping promises to others, yet we tend to approach life from the opposite perspective.
The damage you do to your relationship with yourself affects every part of your life. Treat yourself like you matter and respect the promises you make to yourself. The integrity you build with yourself will make you better at keeping all of the promises you make. It will expand into everything you do, not just learning German!