Image copyright: amaviael / 123RF Stock Photo
Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans.
I am on day 35 of a commitment to do Body Mind Method, a challenging, 50 minute qigong routine, every day for 100 days. I am amazed at how easy it is, since I've already made the commitment to do it. No time is spent deciding whether or not to do it. The only decision is shall I do it first thing in the morning (it sets me up to have good energy all day) or just before bed (and sleep like a baby)?
What commitment isn't
Commitment is different from intention. Before this I've had the intention to practice qigong every day. And I've done it fairly regularly, but could just as easily put it off or skip it.
Which reminds me of how different commitment is from "trying." My friend George helped me understand this distinction. Let's do it now. Bend down and try to take your shoe off....NO...don't DO it, just try. When George showed me, I said out loud, "Oops, trying is the same as not doing it, right?"
What commitment IS
Sartre said, wisely, Commitment is an act, not a word. Martina Navratilova helps us understand what commitment is: The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and egg. The chicken is involved, the pig is committed. Commitment is wholehearted.
Before we got married, my late husband, Hal, and I made a commitment never to divorce. We were deciding ahead of time to work things out when we had difficulties or disagreements. There is such comfort in this. We didn't have to go down the path of wondering, "should I leave?" "what if he leaves?" Instead - energy went into keeping our hearts open - and amazingly things got worked through.
What holds us back?
Fear. When we consider committing, there is much to fear: failure, being hurt, becoming rigid, missing other opportunities. All are, of course, possible, and fear can paralyze us.
What is required to commit?
Strong belief in someone or something. That someone can be you, someone else, or a cause. I recently saw the video by Jeff Bridges called Open Your Eyes. It is about the damage plastic is causing all over our planet, and it hit me in the gut. I can feel a commitment to finding alternatives to plastic brewing inside me.
Courage. Drug and alcohol addicts who are trying to stay sober often find they have a secret escape hatch buried under their efforts. It goes something like this: "I'm really going to stay sober, UNLESS" (and here comes the individualized loophole) "my mother dies, I lose my job, my girlfriend breaks up with me," fill in the words following UNLESS." Sustainable sobriety requires a commitment with no loopholes, a commitment that makes staying sober the daily priority.
Practice. A client of mine wanted to get married but felt he was unready for the commitment. He came up with a creative plan to practice. He got a dog. He wanted to see if he could care for and stay responsible to the dog, loving her, even when she didn't do what he wanted her to do. It worked well. Soon he felt readier to make the marriage commitment.
Sometimes committing to a pilot period provides a practice time. Commit to not eating sugar for 7 days. And really do it. Then expand the time as you want to. Another good practice is to forgive yourself in advance if you fall off the wagon, and get back on, instead of throwing in the towel and eating the whole cake!
A structure helps. My commitment to practicing the Body/Mind qigong routine once/day is very clear. My friend Mary wanted to have greater work/life balance. She created a structure for 40 hours of work/week during predetermined hours. And more personal pursuits during the rest. If her work creeps over the 40 hours, she earns personal comp hours, which she takes during the scheduled work hours.
Commitment is important because the rewards are big. In the case of my qigong practice, the rewards of are the experience of health and vitality. Some other rewards of commitment include a growing sense of ourselves as capable, strong, self-disciplined, trustworthy, being the person we want to be. Commitment helps us have meaningful relationships. When we are committed to a relationship we learn to work through differences, accept that we may be wrong at times, and experience how another point of view can bring beauty and expansion into our lives. Then there is the famous quote by Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
- To what or whom do you want to make a commitment?
- What is holding you back?
- How could you get practice?
- What will it feel like to be totally committed?
- When will you commit?