There are a few phrases that I really like to hear from people who claim to love me. The first phrase that I enjoy hearing is “I love you”. For some reason, when people tell me that they love me I feel connected, cherished, and treasured. It is not that I romanticize the 3 words, but the meaning that I assign to those 3 words touches me at my very core. Just hearing a sincere “I love you” releases positive energy throughout my body and adds an extra pep in my step. When said from a trusted loved one, “I love you” can really make my day.
Another statement I like to hear from people who claim to love and respect me is the phrase “You are important”. Just hearing that small phrase makes me feel that my needs, desires and wants are a priority in their lives too. And for some reason, when a person assures me that I am important to them, I feel that I can let my guard down. I don’t feel as if I have to be concerned about defending my ideas, opinions and perspectives. Just hearing “you are important” from a trusted loved one makes me feel accepted, open and most of all, relaxed.
“I apologize” is another phrase that touches my heart. I don’t know about you, but when I hear a heartfelt apology, I feel heard, understood and considered. For some reason, receiving a sincere apology has a
The last phrase that I hold dear is “I promise”. When people say “I promise”, I feel a sense of comfort and security; I feel peace. Why? Because there is something to be said about a woman who honors her word and says what she means and means what she says.
If keeping promises are so important and so vital to the health of our relationships, why don’t we honor our word? Why has integrity become so rare? Why has the phrase “I promise” lost its veracity?
I don’t claim to know all of the reasons why keeping promises are becoming optional or mere afterthoughts. But I do have 2 views that I hope you will consider before you make another promise to yourself or to a loved one.
Thought #1: Keeping promises are becoming rare because people are failing to think about what they are committing to PRIOR to saying “I promise”. Just consider your own life. How many times have you made commitments without considering the time requirements, costs, sacrifices, compromises or emotional gymnastics required to follow-through on your promises? If we are honest, we all can admit that we have said “I will”, when we knew that our answer should have been “I won’t”. So here are some steps that will hopefully help you when you are considering making promises to yourself and to others.
- Always clarify what is being asked. Ask questions, ask for examples, ask for potential scenarios or ask the person to paint an emotional picture of the request if need be. But never agree to anything before you have a comprehensive understanding of the request.
- If you can’t fulfill/honor the request, offer a solution or an alternative. Tell them what you can do vs. what they want you to do. Hold your ground even when/if they try to persuade, coerce or manipulate you. The bottom line is this - don’t agree to something that you know you can’t fully fulfill or accept.
- Once an alternative/agreement is accepted by both parties, re-state the promise to ensure that you both are on the same page. It may be even helpful to follow-up with an e-mail so that both of you are crystal clear about the agreement..
Keep in mind that promises are contracts, agreements and vows. If you are unwilling or unable to honor, comply or fulfill a promise, say so. Honor yourself and honor her with the truth.
Thought #2: Acknowledge when the promise can no longer be honored. And when appropriate, re-negotiate. Promises are not made to be broken, but they can be amended, especially when values and variables change. Why? Because as you develop, evolve or mature, promises that you made earlier in your life and/or in our relationship may no longer support you emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and/or physically. In fact, honoring promises that no longer respect and support you is counterproductive and destructive to your own personal evolution, spiritual journey and physical health. And, if you continue to follow old beliefs, behaviors and practices that are not consistent with who you are currently, your self-esteem and your ability to self-actualize could be jeopardized.
So here are some examples of promises that partners make to each other that may need to be amended, re-negotiated or withdrawn.
- Honoring a promise to stay with a partner who is abusive, addicted and/or discouraging, is a not a good promise to keep.
- Honoring a promise that requires self-surrender, self-sabotage, self-flagellation and self-degradation is not a promise to keep.
- Honoring a promise to do anything that does not respect your growth, development, dignity, integrity, self-esteem, self-care, goals or personal vision is not a promise to keep.
- Honoring a promise to stay in a monogamous relationship when monogamy no longer works or appeals to you is not a good promise to keep.
Remember, “I promise” is a powerful statement of commitment that should not be taken lightly. It is a phrase that has healing, bonding, maintaining and building power. When used with honesty, openness and integrity, it is a statement that breeds trust, respect, loyalty and vulnerability. So use “I promise” thoughtfully. Be precise, define the parameters, discuss expectations and amend when factors and feelings change. So when you give your word, your word will mean something.
“I love you”, “You are important”, “I apologize” and “I promise” – 4 phrases that can add life and healing to you and to your relationship. I hope you use all 4 thoughtfully, honestly, prayerfully and lovingly.
Blessings as you make promises that help you CREATE Love that your heart and mind desires and deserves!