beholden to me
This may be a little shocking considering my tendency to over-commit, but I’m not big on commitments. Or accountability. Tell me I should to do something and my inner teenager immediately throws on her combat boots and fishnets, shaves her hair into a mohawk and throws up two middle fingers in the air in the face of your expectations while defiantly yelling, “Don’t should on me!”
For whatever reason, I am not driven by accountability to others. Timelines, deadlines, promises… all fluid to me. Which is incredibly frustrating to many around me - just ask my accountant. Or every college professor I had in undergrad. Or every project manager who has ever had to work with me. Or my mother who likes the share the story of how I came home after the first day of third grade and proclaimed that she was no longer “the boss of me.”
I am proud of my operating system - I like that I’m internally driven, but it can get maddening when I really need to get shit done. Many people can turn to a friend or trusted advisor and ask them to serve as cheerleader or task master when extra motivation is needed. Me? I have to rely on myself and, historically, I haven’t found myself to always be the most reliable.
Hope and Trust
Every week the women of the SheHive Sunday Morning Writers’ Group make writing commitments for the coming week (including, sometimes, committing to not commit to anything). I capture the commitments and post them on the group’s Facebook group, usually accompanied by a funny picture or meme about keeping commitments to make the post stand out.
Last week, when I Googled “commitment memes,” the following quote popped up…
When you make a commitment, you build hope.
I was struck. Commitments, even commitments to myself, have long been classified as “shoulds” in my mind… I should pay my bills before their due dates. I should do the dishes. I should get out of bed before the third snooze alarm. I should go to yoga. I should write tomorrow’s blog post before midnight.
It was all big ball of guilt… should, should, should.
But here was a different perspective - hope. Hope and trust. I love those words. I love those feelings! I can build hope by making commitments. The commitments I have been openly defying all these years aren’t shoulds - they’re needs, hope for a different future - and the trust I’ve been breaking all this time is my trust in myself.
Why have I been openly defying myself all these years? (Please don’t answer that, by the way. My therapist and I need something new to talk about after all these years together…)
A Year of Ease
After a decade (plus) of working around-the-clock, I decided that 2019 is going to be the year that I take a step back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. My word for the year is Ease, which I thought meant this was going to be a year of lots of yummy self-care and much, much less work. Turns out, more and more, I’m discovering that ease is also developing a discipline around things I need to do so that I’m not un-easy.
Ease is setting aside one hour every Sunday to reconcile the SheHive finances so I know exactly how much capital we have to work with at any given time. Ease is setting up standard operating procedures for how invoices get submitted by the team so I don’t have to worry they aren’t getting paid as promised. Ease is updating my three-year old business plan so I am better informed on where to direct my resources and focus. Ease is washing the dishes as I cook so I can relax after dinner instead of dreading having to go back into the kitchen. Ease is spending a whole afternoon blocking off time on my calendar every week for the year so that no one else can claim it.
Ease, it turns out, is setting deadlines, and boundaries and schedules for the things I don’t want to take up too much space in my life so that there is room for more of what I do want.
Words Create Worlds
Viewing “keeping commitments” as “creating hope” seems like a small thing that might not matter, but mindset shifts are magical. Words create worlds - especially the words we use to talk to ourselves. And when there’s hope at the end of what we tell ourselves we need to do, instead of shame or guilt, well… that’s a different ballgame!
What are the commitments you need to keep in order to create hope for a different future for yourself? I’d love to hear about them - particularly the rewards on the other side. Drop a line in the comments below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With much love and gratitude,
Ursula Adams, MSPOD
P.S. Want to learn more about hope as a powerful driver of change? Here’s a good piece of research to start.
2/7/2019 09:06:23 am
I love the quote on commitments. As I read this I was struck by how much our life can shift when our understanding increases. I was reminded of a verse I love "be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind". Thank you for the reminder to continually take hold of my thought patterns and transform them when they no longer serve me well.
2/7/2019 09:45:09 am
That's a beautiful quote, Charlene!
2/7/2019 09:45:32 am
Thank you for sharing, Karen!
2/7/2019 09:46:13 am
2/7/2019 11:09:07 am
Really appreciate this perspective!
2/7/2019 05:42:20 pm
Oh boy... starting over? That's going to be the subject of a future blog post! I still have to figure out why I talk so poorly to myself when I attempt to re-engage with a lifestyle choice after "falling off the wagon." Thanks for sharing!
2/7/2019 01:15:19 pm
Hi Ursula, As always I am strengthened by your writing-sharing your learning and your honesty in looking deeply into yourself with such talent and clarity. That is (one of) your gifts to the world and I am deeply grateful to know you :) I have realized that I made so many commitments to others, and to my self-created, 'perfect and lovable self' so that I felt worthy (I didn't ever) and couldn't feel or hear my inner child self crying out for my love, my time and attention (I always did). If I could've been honest or, more accurately, had the insight, I would've realized that I was afraid if I paid attention to her I would sink hopelessly into the pain, grief and sorrow she was holding and never return. Well, these last few years I have gone to her and am discovering that listening and staying allows that pain to be released and integrated. Trust-as you said-is built when we take that time and do it over and over. and over and over. and yet again and again. The scariest feelings have come up, anger and rage, self-abuse, judgement and condemnation-feelings that were always there, that were projected onto others, acted out. Instead of trying to create and refine a more lovable self I committed to love the self I am and become the parent I always longed for-the nurturing and spiritual presence I never had. It has required strength I feared I didn't have, love and support I knew I did have and faith in a god I had decided had abandoned me, the scariest part of all. May we all continue to love and support every effort to find our light and love. Blessings to the SheHive for being a lighthouse and a clearinghouse and a space for love and joy.
2/7/2019 05:40:33 pm
Janet, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story! And, as always, everything you have done to help launch the SheHive.
2/8/2019 10:00:05 am
Thank you Ursula! I can relate to this just as the other women who commented. Thanks fo making me feel that I'm not alone in this and giving a new perspective. Giving hope and earning trust whether to and from others or yourself makes sense. When I look at it like that commitment is not such a scary word.
2/8/2019 10:55:22 am
This is a great blog post. That quote about commitments really spoke to me. There are many things I'd like to do, but can't find that internal commitment and it makes it feel like a should, rather than something that may give me joy if I can devote a little discipline to it.
2/16/2019 03:24:42 pm
What I love most about this is your willingness to shift your perspective and open up to something entirely different that will, in the end, serve you. On a related note, my word for this year is FLOW. It is in many ways the twin to what you speak of. I'm the opposite of you- organized, scheduled, accountable, committed, and on-time to a bothersome degree- here is what is funny- the results are the same. . . a lot of should's and what I call reverse shame. My resistance is not liking the feelings of failure, stress, or anxiety. FLOW is teaching me knock off the habit of trying to bend the world to my wishes. To stop asking for permission, to quit muting myself. And to see things I formerly attempted to minimize in all my anal organization and structured-ness as opportune gifts.
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