A hidden cavern deep within me has been echoing with the hollowness of broken promises. Not just an occasional relapse from a well-established practice, absolute abandonment is the cause for this stubborn ache. I have deserted myself.
The hardest promises to keep are the ones we make to ourselves. And when we keep making them and breaking them we gouge a rut of untrustworthiness into our spirits. What perfect ammunition for our inner critic to use against us at every turn. “Why even bother with that big idea? You know you’ll develop these elaborate plans and get nowhere – because you lie. You don’t have what it takes to do what you say you’re gonna do. Crawl back into your hidey hole, you lying coward.”
OK, so maybe your inner critic isn’t as nasty as mine. Lucky you.
Yes, there have been very good reasons that I haven’t been keeping my secret promise to myself – work and health and family needs are just some of them. And I have had many other outlets for my creativity that I have enjoyed. Most people would consider me highly reliable and trustworthy. Timing is everything, too. I know you don’t plant tomatoes in Colorado in the winter. Compassionate understanding for the challenges of heroic proportions that we all face runs deep in me, and I do usually extend this compassion to myself. Along with all this justification, understanding and compassion, hollow regret still echoes in me.
That’s how I know it isn’t an illusion or my critic’s distortion or yet another “should”. It is a persistent desire I have, this secret promise to myself that I must fulfill. It is one of those promises that I am compelled keep for the pure joy of it for me. It is a promise I will long regret breaking if I do.
As a life coach I know we all make promises to ourselves. Some we keep secret for fear of ridicule or objection. Some we blab to all who would listen. Whether it’s learning a new language, building a straw bale house, writing a book, running a marathon or reaching out to an old friend, at some point in time we have to follow the restless and undeniable yearnings from deep within. There are some promises we simply must keep – including those wild and formidable ones we make to ourselves. The cost for not doing so is simply too great.