In life, we may not always be able to keep our word.
Breaking promises is something that happens.
But we can, always can, without exception, honour our word.
That may sound like the same thing. But it is not. Quite not.
And grasping this distinction is both empowering and incredibly freeing. It is the pathway to a much clearer, authentic, and powerful way of being and interacting with each other.
Firstly, we tend to collapse breaking a promise with being a bad person. It’s quite similar to the way we have collapsed the notion of being responsible with the idea of blame.
And so we get reaaaaal squirelly when it comes time to give our word to something, to make a promise, to say what we will do, or be.
Our promise, such as it is, all to easily becomes a wishy-washy thing, full of caveats and asterisks, even if they’re not spoken out loud.
And when a word is broken, we tend not to be too rigorous in acknowledging it or dealing with it. Apologies offered aren’t often exactly apologies, mostly explanations and excuses, devoid of authenticity and integrity. Plus there’s this kind of secret handshake and agreement thing going on: if I don’t call you out on this, you won’t hold me responsible either… ok?
Promises are big things. They are quite scary in many ways. They are bold statements spoken forth in the face of the vast uncertainty that is the future.
And promises will be broken. You will break promises.*
And that is OK.
For here is that distinction: The promise, your word, wasn’t kept, and It was broken. But by acknowledging that the promise was not – or will not be the moment you know it won’t be – kept, by acknowledging the impact of the broken promise has/had, by taking responsibility for it not being kept, and by accepting the consequences and outfall of it, you can still honour your word. You give your words weight.
To honour one’s word is to honour one’s self.
Because, really, what are we beyond that of our word?
If we treat our word as dismissible, small, and not worth the metaphorical paper it is written on, then we are weakening who we fundamentally are. We are treating ourselves the same way, as dismissible, small, without value, and we are inviting others to do the same.
Through authentic promises, backed up with intentful action, and when broken coupled with authentic apologies, we close the loop and know ourselves (and each other) as mighty and whole and true.
We shed the background guilt towards ourselves that’s coupled with background (righteous) resentment towards others. We gain a greater sense of ourselves, connect with each other, and together we can create big and bold promises towards what we actually want in life.
* If you’re not, consider that you are making promises that are too small…