Today, at my step aerobics class, I introduced myself to a new member. She told the instructor that she HAD done step aerobics 15 years earlier and was very excited to try it again. Our instructor said that she hears that from most newcomers, who often come and leave part-way through the class, giving up, frustrated. She told my new friends to just keep moving. If you keep coming back, you will start catching on to the movements. She also said that the program had changed a lot in the past 15 years. Well, my new friend stayed for the entire 55 minutes.
My other friends and I were praising her for her persistence. She said, “I had to stay. I promised myself that I would get into shape and this is how I am going to do it.”
She promised herself! What a powerful statement!
It raised a question for me, regarding integrity. Integrity translates to me as simply doing what you say you will do and not doing what you say you will not do. We make promises to other people. We either honor those promises or we do not. When we do not honor our word, something inside us shrivels; we feel a little bit less than. We do not hold our heads so high. We may feel guilt and we may even feel shame. If we value the person, we will make amends and do better in the future.
Yet, the far greater danger comes from the promises we make to ourselves. For instance, I have promised to drink more water daily. I have promised to eat nutritiously. I have promised to fast from sugar. Last Sunday, I mentioned it and a woman joked, “Well you made it until noon at least.”
She unwittingly but with kind intent took me off the hook. and I let her. More importantly, I let myself.
A stranger has fed me spiritual food.
She has reminded me that the most important promises are the ones that I make to myself.
So I go back and examine my promises. Did I make them to please someone else or are these things I really want to establish in my life?
Let’s take one promise at a time.
I promised myself to not eat refined sugar. I broke that promise today.
Why did I break it?
I chose to do what others were doing. I rationalized my actions by telling myself that I would have only one chocolate.
But my promise was not to have ANY refined sugar. It was not about cutting down on how much sugar I consumed.
In the past, after breaking my promise to myself, I would simply keep indulging in the habit.
But this time, I reminded myself that I am a powerful spiritual being, one with the Creator of the Universe. I am infinitely worthy of keeping promises to myself, especially promises that will make the quality of my life better.
I will promise again.
I will use Rumi’s beautiful quote to remind me that every moment contains an opportunity to make a new decision. I will treat myself with tenderness, compassion, and discipline.
“Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
Though you have broken your vow a thousand times, come.
Ours is not a caravan of despair,
Come, yet again, come.”