I Broke a Promise.
Here's why that's worse than it seems.
I broke a promise to myself this week. And it reminded me of a very important lesson in confidence and self-worth.
I was in Phoenix for five days teaching at a national dance convention last week. It was such a blast to (hopefully) inspire dancers from all corners of the country, but there was one issue. I blasted a big hole in my self-confidence. And, if I hadn’t stopped to analyze what was going on, I would have been none the wiser.
The day before I flew down to Arizona, I went to the Whole Foods to stock up on snacks. I was determined not to eat out while at the event. I knew it would be expensive and, because I would be working fourteen-hour days, I knew that if I did eat out, that time would be much better spent sleeping.
So, I bought granola bars, dark chocolate, kale chips, trail mixes, and all sorts of other yummy packable snacks. I spent some quality time (and dough) to make sure I was stocked up for the week. I made a vow – no eating out while in Phoenix. You can buy morning coffee, but no expensive dinners out. Save the money you’re making for something more meaningful!
Cut to: Day two. I am mentally exhausted, it’s 10:30pm, I have just watched and commented on back-to-back dancing since 8 am, and my coworkers decide to go out and get sushi.
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Y’all know where this is going, right? As a lifetime sufferer of FOMO and a very enthusiastic joiner, I grabbed my wallet and room key and walked across the street to the fancy sushi joint. There was little to no deliberation on my part. I broke my promise to myself in the blink of an eye. And $75 later, I felt terrible.
Here’s the not-so-tasty truth: No matter how many promises you make and keep with other people, you will still operate at a substandard capacity if you don’t keep the promises you make to yourself.
This may seem like a small thing. It’s not. The promises you make to yourself are the cornerstones of your confidence. And they’re often the most difficult to keep because you’re the only one who knows if you break them.
In an article in Frontiers in Psychology that details experiments concerning goal setting, Jessica Höpfner and Nina Keith write, “participants who failed the high and specific goal showed a decrease in affect, self-esteem, and motivation compared to participants who attained that goal.” (Incidentally, I believe that goals are simply big promises to ourselves.)
And what if we fail in a smaller scale? What if, like me, our goals are not so high? Well, my guess is that many of us think something like, “Well, if I can’t even save money on one trip, then I might as well not try at all.”
Each time we achieve a small goal or keep a promise to ourselves, we put another brick on the tower wall of our self-confidence. And when we don’t keep our promises to ourselves? Well, we make that tower’s foundation a little shakier every time.
The good news is that tomorrow is another day. We can start anew. We can try again. We can make another promise. And this time, we know why we should keep it.
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Thank you for reading!