We’ve talked about building self-trust by following through on what we say we will do. We talked about starting small and touched on responding to ourselves with kindness if it ever happens that we disappoint ourselves by not following through.
While it’s important to show ourselves that we’ll do what we say we will do, the way we go about keeping those promises to ourselves also impacts how our trust in ourselves grows. It’s not just about following through. It makes a difference how we treat ourselves in the process.
Think about it. What are some of the qualities in a person that build your trust? How do you feel toward someone who demands that you do what they say without caring whether you have what you need or how you feel?
Compare that to someone who tries to make it as easy and fun as possible to do what they have asked. Who would you rather be around? Who do you trust more to make sure you’re ok and help you figure things out if they don’t go as planned?
It’s wonderful when we have compassionate, supportive people in our lives, but ultimately it’s not other people’s responsibility to make sure we’re ok. It’s ours.
When we are building our trust by following through on our commitments to ourselves, we can hold ourselves accountable in any number of ways. We can be strict and threatening. We can be supportive and encouraging. We can be critical and shaming. We can be compassionate and kind.
Here’s a quick example from my life…
I’m committed to spending time writing every week. I could try to force myself to sit in front of the computer for a certain number of hours (even though I know that’s not the way I work best). I could find ways to punish myself any time I get distracted. I could refuse to let myself do anything fun until I get enough done.
This might be effective, but it wouldn’t feel great. It would turn something I want to do into a chore. It demonstrates that I won’t be kind to myself unless I’m good enough to earn it.
What I’ve been doing instead is taking a pencil and notebook to my favorite library to write. I give myself breaks to peruse the shelves and pick out books to take home with me. (While the libraries are closed, I’m writing in the back seat of my car at the park across the street from the library.) Then I go for a walk in one of my favorite parks on the way home.
Following through on this commitment to myself has become one of the highlights of my week.
While both approaches technically accomplish the same thing, they feel so different.
When I’m harsh and focused only on the outcome, I reinforce to myself that I have to earn approval by meeting expectations—no matter what I want or how I feel. I start to resent the very thing I wanted to commit to doing and am more likely to quit or just go through the motions.
When I look for ways to bring joy and care into the process, however, I show myself that it’s about more than accomplishing a task. This is my life. I don’t want to live it always trying to measure up.
I want to enjoy my life while feeling engaged with the things that are important to me. A big part of that is how I choose to support myself in meeting my commitments and how I treat myself when everything doesn’t go perfectly. I want to show up for myself with integrity and compassion…no matter what.
How about you? What are you committed to doing? How is it going? How can you be even more supportive of yourself as you follow through?