Have you ever made a commitment to yourself and not followed through?
Okay. So if you answered, “No. Never.” you definitely don’t need to read what I write next. Stop reading now.
But, if you are like 99.9% of humans here on earth, you have probably made many commitments to yourself that you just haven’t kept.
In fact, some of you may be professional “Commitment to Self Breakers”.
Commitments can be big, or small things.
Take my commitment to treat my body with care and attention. I might have broken it yesterday. Oh, and the day before too maybe. I just might have cheated a teensy,weensy bit on my commitment to eat healthily.
Okay, a lot on Sunday. Those Nachos with my friend KP were too tempting, too delicious. And we had just finished an hour walk which included hiking up hills in the mud with Beaumont the super pooch. I deserved the treat!
Like many of you, I can rationalize anything. And that includes breaking commitments with myself.
Like any habit, breaking commitments with myself is learned behaviour.
Which means, I can unlearn the behaviour too. It just takes practice, patience and persistence. Oh, and a whole lot of willingness to do things differently.
Which is sometimes the challenge. I like my ruts. I am comfortable in doing some things the same old way because doing them the same old way means I don’t have to change.
And while I recognize that ‘change is here to stay’, my pesky little inner brat-child likes to put her hands on her hips, stomp her foot and declare in defiance to any suggestion I create change, “Don’t tell me what to do! I don’t have to change if I don’t want to.”
That’s the problem with the inner brat-child. She likes to be in control and her auto-responses are always based on decisions made in the there and then when she reigned supreme, long before my prefrontal cortex had even finished its development. My inner brat-child is older than my inner wise-child who didn’t finish growing up until her mid-20s.
Making commitments with myself and keeping them is a test of my capacity to wrest control from the inner brat-child’s desire to not change, to not give up control, to not grow up.
I’ve decided to trick her. To reframe how I look at ‘change’ and do something differently.
First off, I’m not telling myself “I have to change”.
What I’m saying is, “Here’s an opportunity for fun and games. To create a new way of doing things that could be like… a big surprise!”
See, it’s important to play into the inner brat child’s love of surprises. Inner brat children like shiny and new toys. They are easily distracted and kind of get all hyped up on the idea of making every day like Christmas.
I’m hoping that reframing ‘change’ into something shiny and new might just distract my inner brat child from recognizing what I’m up to long enough to give what I’m up to time to grow into something more comfortable and less intimidating to her fear of losing control.
And yes, I’m willing to play games to trick my inner brat child. She’s always playing tricks on me. Turning the tables is fair game.
Secondly, I’m writing a letter to my inner brat child describing this new way of doing things and, I’m going to mail my letter to her.
Inner brat children also like mail that comes in the post box with stamps and all that jazz. It’s that shiny and new thinking again. Inner brat children are so stuck in the past, they have not developed an understanding of mail = bills as so many adults have. Instead of dreading mail, inner brat children often get all excited about the cool surprise it might just hold in store. Inner brat children like opening surprises.
Now, in my letter to my inner brat child I am going to keep the language simple. Small words, no ‘big ideas’, just lots of fun, exciting descriptive verse of what this new way of doing things will mean to ‘us’.
It’s important to identify with the inner brat child so that she feels less afraid and alone. It’s important to let her know in language she will understand what excitement is in store as we journey this new way of keeping commitments to our self.
I know. I know.
Wouldn’t it just be easier to tell her to take a hike and get on with it?
If I do the same thing again and again, I’ll get the same result.
In this case, a broken commitment to myself. Again.
So, I’m changing it up. Shaking up the status quo and trying out a different tack. Perhaps in the process, I’ll forget all about the discomfort of change and fall into love with the excitement of shiny and new.
Who knows? Anything is possible, even with inner brat children. Anyway, I’m kind of getting tired of listening to my inner brat child’s tantrums.
Time to change it up so she can take a break and go back to sleep deep within my psyche.
Strike one for the inner wise child! I’m feeling empowered already. In fact, I can taste the first sweet bites of the intoxicating fruit of keeping commitments with myself in the here and now!
Take that you inner brat!