Last year I wrote about how making little changes can help us. This January I am reflecting on the struggles we all face to create changes for ourselves in our lives, positive changes that often require slight tweaks of behaviour and begin when we make a promise to ourselves. Why is it that we sometimes feel the promises and commitments we make to others are more important or valid than those we make to ourselves? What is the passivity that sets in and allows us to break the promises we make for change in our lives? Promises we would never dare to break with others. I am curious about that, particularly at this time of the year when many feel the urge to effect a personal change.

From our younger years we learn certain behaviours to rub along within whatever family structure we found ourselves. If our earliest needs were not seen or recognised that message can translate into a hidden but powerful sense of not feeling quite good enough. And when we don’t feel quite good enough about ourselves, then the intention to cherish promises to ourselves is weakened. This can look like passivity on the outside or in extreme cases, laziness but I believe there is something deeper that goes on which disguises itself as procrastination.

I am guessing in some instances it is an unconscious voice saying “You’re not really worth it anyway, so why bother doing X, Y or Z?” It then maintains a long-held belief in our own unworthiness and keeps us small and in a place of self-loathing.
Stepping out of passivity is not easy. The first part is developing an awareness around what we are doing to ourselves and becoming curious why we break our own promises. This can lead to a discovery of those parts of ourselves that remain very deeply guarded and protected because they were the parts that helped us when we were young. Shining a gentle light and encouraging ourselves to look where we don’t usually dare to look is a huge step forward in itself. These are the kinds of changes that can lead to transformation.

So, the next time you haven’t DONE that thing that you promised yourself, try putting an emotional arm around your shoulder and be compassionately curious instead of picking up a stick and a voice that is punitive. Change begins when we open the door to compassion for both our younger and adult selves. It gives us permission to try something different, for a change.