Promises and How to Build Self-Trust

Are you struggling with self-trust?  Let me tell you a story of an embarrassing moment that set me on the road to keeping promises to myself.

Back when I was in college, I spent a couple of summers working for The Famous Artists School in Westport, Connecticut.

My desk was in the last row at the back of the room.

This was fortuitous because the entry door was behind me, making it easy for me to enter when I was late and to slide quickly into my seat unobserved.

With ease and speed, I’d toss a stack of papers on my desk along with some pencils and a notepad taken from my desk drawer.

That way when the supervisor, Sue, looked up, it appeared that I’d been there for a while.

And as it happened, I was never on time.


And Sue never caught on until one day …

As usual I was running late.  Ready to charge in and take my seat, I opened the door.

The desks were gone.  The carpet was missing.  My heart beat faster.

What was up?

Then I noticed the furniture was now crammed into a tiny area to my left.  My co-workers were busy working at their desks.

And mine was still located in the back row.

Sue was nowhere in sight.

Rushing across a blackened floor, I scurried to my desk and set up my work papers.

But then … HORRORS!

When I glanced back to the entry door, I was shocked to see that I had left footprints on the floor and had tracked wet tar all the way to my desk!!

And wouldn’t you know, Sue chose that moment to enter our work area through a side door.

She spotted the footprints immediately.

My heart sank.  My stomach was in knots.  Had I damaged the floor?  What would she do to me?

Sue made a big production of discovering the footprints then following them slowly toward where I was sitting.

Each time she passed a desk, a co-worker would swivel her chair around to face me.

Imagine how I felt.  I wanted to sink into the black tar never to be seen again.

So, what did I do?

On the spur of the moment, I promised myself that I’d never, n. e. v. e. r be late again – EVER, if only I could make it through this difficult moment.

Turns out Sue didn’t get mad.  Nothing bad happened.  No – but it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

Can you guess what happened afterwards?

Oh, yes, I was on time … but only for a short while.  Believe me I tried – really, I did.

And then, I slipped back into my old, bad habit.  My promise to myself vanished in the air.

Today, I respect other people’s time as well as my own.  Admittedly though, I didn’t think too much about it back then.

Walking across the tarred floor was a good lesson.

Not just about being on time but in learning to self-trust.

And this is a big issue that relates to our health.

Sure, we have good intentions.

We promise ourselves not to eat too many cookies, potato chips or whatever it might be.

Perhaps we make a promise to go to bed at a certain time, or to hit the gym, for example.

Let me ask you, when you make such a promise, do you mean what you say?

Or do your good intentions fall by the wayside?

How can we trust others to mean what they say, if we can’t trust ourselves to keep our own promises?

Sometimes we make a big promise to ourselves, and then we say we’ll start tomorrow.

Tomorrow comes and the next tomorrow, and we fail to deliver.  What happens is that sooner rather than later, we give up and quit.

This sets up a situation where we fear changing or don’t even bother to change because we don’t believe that we can be true to our word.

Our confidence dips; our self-esteem falters.  Gone is our self-trust.

To avoid the above scenario, I suggest not making promises without careful thought and consideration.

Make your promise specific not global.

And take incremental steps toward keeping your promise.

For example, in place of saying:  I’m never going to have a sugar treat again, you might say, I will give up sugar treats for three days this week beginning today.

Then build on your accomplishment.

Following these steps will provide you with a greater chance of success.

It will help you build trust in yourself rather than set you up for disappointment and shame.

Don’t beat yourself up if you fail to show up as promised.  We’re all human.  We all slip up on occasion.

Simply recommit every time.

You’ll increase your self-trust, self-confidence and self-esteem.

Now I’m wondering, have you ever struggled with self-trust?  And if you answered in the affirmative, have you changed the way you make promises to yourself by using incremental steps?

Please leave us a comment in the box below.  We’d love to hear from you!

Categories: Blog, Confidence, Self-Esteem, and Self-Trust.

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