I seldom run across the use of the word “promise” anymore. With the exception of marriage vows, it’s almost as if the word disappeared from contemporary vernacular. Or is it just me?
It was a simple declaration on her part, but because I know her well, I realized the instant I read those words in her email, she would deliver on her promise, because she’s “that kind of person.” Hmmm …. Am I that kind of person? Do I keep MY promises? I had to stop and think about it.
Starting with my relationship with myself, I have to admit that, no, I am not “that kind of person.” I make countless pseudo-promises to myself: to be more efficient with my time, to lose weight, to exercise more and to rustle up more time to live in my passion of writing. You know, the ongoing resolutions that never quite happen. And that’s a partial list. Then I thought about all the events I didn’t go to (after I lamely agreed to try to go to), plus all the people who wished I would have been there, and quite frankly, all the fun I missed.
Has technology caused us to rationalize this tendency of not keeping our word?
It’s an interesting thought. Thirty years ago we barely had answering machines, so when you made an agreement to meet someone at a certain time, you did not have the luxury of calling them at the last moment—or worse yet—texting or a DM Tweet, to bow out of your obligation. You kept your word or faced the consequence of being perceived as flaky and unreliable. Not an enviable label in any relationship, then or now.
Why has this behavior evolved to be considered (somewhat) socially acceptable?
As a society we place more value on the communication, not on keeping our word. The accountability of the communication has more perceived-value than the integrity of actually doing what we say we’re going to do.
We adapted our vernacular to fit our non-committal lifestyles.
Constantly juggling work and family obligations, most of us have insanely busy schedules, so it’s easy to understand why we often replace the word “promise” with other terms like, “I’ll try to … I hope to … I’ll see what I can do to …,” etc. But is it the right way to live? Is this fair to anyone (yourself included)? Does this fall into acceptable standards of the chronically kind person? Absolutely not.
Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the International Best Seller, The Four Agreements1 says it so well when he writes, “Be impeccable with your word,” as The First Agreement. And this, in any relationship, is the foundation on which we build trust. Kindness is also part of that foundation.
Do we live in a culture of broken promises?
Unfortunately yes. From our politicians’ words to marriage vows, what we tell our kids, to ourselves in the course of everyday living, we all have our places where we fall short of living that highly conscious and considerate life.
Keeping your promise is an act of kindness.
When you make a promise and keep it, you honor yourself and the person to whom you made that promise. This is a form of kindness to both of you.
Are you kind enough to say, “I promise to …,” to someone today and actually follow through with what you say you’re going to do—or not do—as the case may be?
Leave a comment below or chime in on FaceBook, to share your promises!
My Inspiration for this post? Deb Ondo, Founder of: http://breatheyourfire.com/
I found a short related article; if you care to read more, check it out:
The author, David Orman is the publisher of http://anordinarybuddha.com/
- The Four Agreements®, published in 1997; was a New York Times bestseller for more than 7 years and the 36th bestselling book of the decade. (from Don Miguel Ruiz website)