Broken promises suck. And I’m not just talking about the empty promises made to us by others, I mean the ones we make to ourselves. In fact they’re the worst kind.
If there’s one thing that will destroy your self-esteem faster than the speed of light, it’s breaking promises to yourself. See, self-esteem is born out of keeping commitments… especially the commitments you make to yourself.
This used to be a way of life for me, and I still struggle with it from time to time. It’s part of our human nature to want to improve our lives, and it’s also part of our nature to do whatever it takes to stay exactly the same. So we sabotage… over and over and over.
For example, I used to repeatedly promise myself that, come Monday, I was going to quit eating anything with sugar or fat, only to promptly inhale a carton of ice cream by 4pm. (I joke about it now, but at the time it was painful. All the broken promises became a weapon I used against myself to prove I couldn’t trust myself, so how could I ever trust myself with the BIG stuff like quitting that unfulfilling job or leaving the toxic relationship?)
Or, lately, I have promised myself that I’ll get up earlier every morning to meditate, yet 15 minutes before work I’m still stuck to my cozy flannel sheets like Velcro, my iPhone discarded in the corner of the room where I hurled it after turning off the alarm.(Thankfully I know enough now to be curious about this rather than slam myself for it.)
That said, I’ve kept a lot of them too, and it’s because of that I’ve been able to change and shape my life for the better in numerous ways over the past 7 years. Gradually, through some trial and error (and with the help of amazing coaches) I’ve learned to make my ultimate happiness and wellbeing more important than my fear and more important than the “familiar”.
So what makes the difference? How can we be mindful enough of our self-made promises to actually keep them?
Through my own journey I’ve found there are 3 big reasons why we sabotage our goals.
Lack of Soul Alignment
Here’s the deal: If your goal is not in alignment with your soul, you WILL fuck it up. For example, if you set a goal to lose 20 pounds because you hate your body and think you can’t attract a partner until you’re a size 6, that is NOT soul alignment.
Any goal with an agenda of fixing yourself, depriving yourself, or making your value or happiness conditional is simply not going to be supported by your soul. Furthermore, if your goal is based in fear or lack, sabotage is likely in your future.
Another way of saying this, your soul is NOT down with false or limiting beliefs. It IS down with pure intention that is affirming and brings more life to all.
Case in point: last week in yoga, the teacher asked us to take an honest look at our New Years intentions and ask the following questions:
- Will this matter on my death bed?
- Would I tell a 3-year old child they need to do this? (Would you tell your child they need to lose 20 pounds or else they won’t be loved?) HELL NO.
It’s a pretty good reality check. If the answer to either of these questions is no, I suggest you modify your goal to something that is rooted in self-love and something that will ADD to your life. Something that INSPIRES you.
See, there’s a BIG difference between Inspiration and Motivation. Inspiration is a desire that comes from your soul and it PULLS you forward. Think about the root of the word Inspire – to breathe in spirit.
Motivation, on the other hand, is a drive that’s associated with your ego that usually involves PUSHING yourself. Motivation can only take you so far.
If your goal doesn’t inspire you or feel expansive, reframe it to something that does.
Humans are pretty simple. There’s a payoff to EVERYTHING we do, even the stuff that seems nonsensical and misery-making. If you’re repeatedly sabotaging your goals, on some level your subconscious mind is not on board with the cost-benefit analysis of you actually ACHIEVING your goal. In other words, the current state is actually SERVING you in some way. Aka “The Blind Spot.”
Here’s an example: a few years ago I was leading a workshop and there was a woman there who had gained and lost weight repeatedly and was in a great deal of pain and shame around her inability to keep it off. As we talked about it a bit, we uncovered the fact that every time she got thinner, her husband became very jealous and possessive, as he was threatened that she was now more attractive to other men. This caused upset in her relationship, so out of loyalty to her husband (and to avoid conflict) she was subconsciously keeping herself heavy.
Here’s a coaching Power Question to explore…. If you were to actually achieve your goal or get what you want, what might you lose that you value, or where might you become vulnerable?
That could be the blind spot that’s keeping you from moving forward, and you’ll need to address that fear head-on.
Lack of Accountabilty
Isn’t interesting how easy it is to break promises to ourselves? It’s FAR easier than reneging on a commitment to someone else. This is why personal trainers and coaches are so valuable – if you know someone is WAITING for you at the gym you’d rather get out of bed than face the shame of bailing. We’re just not that good at holding ourselves accountable, especially when the goal is not soul-aligned or there’s a hidden payoff!
Accountability is ESSENTIAL to moving us through the discomfort of change. We’re used to dealing with our own freakin’ shame, but when push comes to shove showing up for someone else can be just enough to pull you through. Pretty soon you start to get the high and the elevated self-esteem of keeping your commitments and it gets easier and becomes a habit.
So it’s a good time to check in with your New Years intentions, resolutions or goals, especially the ones you’re already slipping on:
Are they soul-aligned?
Do you have a blind spot?
Do you have accountability?
If you’re not sure, maybe I can help. I’m offering a handful of complimentary coaching sessions this month. I’ve been told I have superpowers around uncovering blind spots and restoring soul alignment and I’d love to help you create a plan to achieve your goals this year. Send me an email and let’s set up a time to chat!