Do you set impossibly high standards around contribution and productivity but struggle to make commitments to yourself around rest, play, or wellbeing?

As a result, do you often feel like you’re letting yourself down and struggle to trust yourself?

If so, this is for you.

For many people, the pattern of not committing to ourselves repeats a pattern from childhood in which the people we should have been able to rely on let us down, broke trust, or didn’t show up for us consistently.

As a result, we didn’t learn what it looked like to be cared for consistently and can have a hard time consistently showing up for ourselves, too.

To finally learn how to trust ourselves, we must learn to take our commitments to ourselves just as seriously as our commitments to others.

So, the next time you make a commitment to yourself, consider these guidelines for making powerful and practical commitments to yourself.

One: Imagine you’re committing to the little one within you who longs for a grown-up (you!) they can trust.

Creating a right-sized commitment to your little one is a both-and move: We risk letting ourselves down when we take on more than we can realistically accomplish and when we don’t commit to ourselves.

We must, therefore, look for the growing edge, the space between committing too much and too little, between a super safe commitment and an impossible one. We stretch ourselves to care for ourselves as best we can. 

Two: Remember, trust develops through repair.

If you hesitate to commit to yourself out of fear of letting yourself down, please know that we humans build trust through repair.

That means that when you commit to doing your best and fall short, you can deepen trust with yourself by having a conversation with yourself about what happened, what you learned, what support you need moving forward, and what next steps you’ll take to nurture yourself.

As soon as you realize you haven’t followed through, acknowledge that with grace, get curious about what you might learn and what support you need, and do your best to choose your next right-sized commitment.

This conversation is the key to cultivating self-trust. 

Three: When you tell yourself you’ll do something, ask yourself: Am I willing and able to commit to this? Is this a commitment?

If not, don’t blame yourself. Instead, get genuinely curious and ask yourself what you can commit to.

Four: Catch yourself if you ever use tentative language.

If you hear yourself saying things like I guess… or I’ll try… or I’ll see…, ask, What am I actually able and willing to commit to? Play with your statement until you can honestly say I will… or I commit to doing my best to… 

Five: Be super specific.

As opposed to “Go to bed on time” or “Don’t stay up late,” being specific would sound like “Lights off by ten every weeknight. And in bed reading a book by nine five days per week.”

Six: Rather than committing to practicing every single day, consider committing to daily(ish) or five out of seven days in the week.

Seven: Rather than committing to doing something indefinitely, commit to a defined period of time, such as two weeks. Check in at the end of this time and decide whether you’d like to continue the commitment.

Eight: Only to commit what is within your control.

For example, rather than committing to having a conversation with someone, which is not within your control because the other person could refuse to speak with you, commit to doing NVC-journaling from Chapter Eight in preparation and asking the other person to talk.

Nine: Track what happens next.

What happened as a result of making this commitment? Did you follow through? How do you feel now (sensations and emotions)? Did this step help meet your needs? Do you want to stick with this commitment? Or update it? The more you stay curious and pay attention, the more you will learn about what meets your needs.

May you dance in the growing edge.


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