I have a confession to make. For the past few weeks I have really been struggling with my commitment to this website and my commitment to self-care.
Some commitments are easier than others
It is easy for most of us to stay committed to the obvious things, like showing up at work everyday on time, preparing lunch for the kids, brushing your teeth and checking Facebook religiously every couple of hours. But when it comes to the stuff that is easier to put off until tomorrow, like following through with the steps necessary to achieve a personal goal, spending twenty minutes in meditation to de-stress, or making that next appointment with your nutritionist to sort out your diet, we often fall short, or at least I know I do.
The more you put off a commitment, whether it be to yourself, another person or a personal or professional project, the more difficult it becomes to follow through with it. We procrastinate. We avoid. We distract ourselves. It’s a slippery slope.
Why do we find it difficult to follow through with certain commitments and not others?
The fear factor
It probably comes down to fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not being accepted. The list goes on …
We become paralyzed by fear before we even begin.
Funny enough, the commitments we find most difficult to keep are often the ones that are most important to our personal growth.
Take this website for instance. I was so excited to launch the site and I started out with such vigor. I loved designing it and creating the free course and even the first few blogs. But then something happened. I got busy. I got distracted. I lost sight of my commitment.
What happened? I let fear take hold. A part of me is very scared that I won’t be able to help other women with IC. It’s the “I’m not good enough” voice that I am all too familiar with. What if my blog posts suck? What if no one signs up for my free course I’ve put so much time into? I’ve been paralyzed by these types of questions until today.
What’s so different about today? I stopped to look at what I was really avoiding by neglecting my commitments. I examined my difficulties and fears with curiosity and self-compassion instead of judgement and disdain. This gave me the space I needed to understand why I am having trouble sticking with the two commitments that are very high in importance for me right now and what I can do to move forward in a more productive way.
Here are 7 questions to ask yourself in order to move past the fear of commitment and back into a more productive flow:
1. Are you speaking to yourself from a place of self-compassion or criticism?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Recognize that following through with the actions to uphold a commitment is not easy and it is a common human struggle. You are not alone. Being critical of yourself at this time will not encourage you to move through your stagnancy into understanding and action. If anything, self-criticism will keep you stuck.
2. What is truly important to you right now? Dial it down.
Write out all of the commitments that you have in your life right now, big and small. Put a star next to the ones that are most critical and important to you right now. You may see that you have committed to too much. When this happens, overwhelm can keep you frozen and prevent you from following through on any of the commitments. You might have to drop a few of the less important commitments and narrow down your top commitments in different areas of your life, such as personal, professional and family/friends.
3. What is behind your lack of commitment? Get really honest with yourself.
Write down whatever feelings and emotions come up when you ask yourself this question. Get really quiet so you can hear your inner voice. Sometimes it comes in the form of a whisper. Are you simply feeling overwhelmed with all of your commitments, or is there more to it than that. Is there one in particular you are having a lot of difficulty with? What are you afraid of? What are you losing out on by not keeping a particular commitment? What might you gain if you follow through with it? Maybe the intention behind your commitment is not serving you well and it’s time to drop it. Write down as much as you can and try not to filter it. Let it flow.
4. Can you move past the fear and uncertainty that is holding you back?
Now that you have a better understanding of what is behind your lack of commitment, can you channel your wise self to help you move through it? Face your fear, thank your fear and then tell yourself that you are going to follow through with the commitment anyway because it is something you want to do. Make a choice and re-affirm your commitment daily. It may help to write down your commitment on a post-it note and place it in a few key places where you can be reminded of it on a daily basis. You can write something simple like, “Today I am committing to meditating for 20 minutes because it helps to calm my mind and creates space in my day.”
5. Have you developed a routine or schedule that will allow you to follow through with your commitment?
For instance, in order to fit your daily mediation in, you might have to wake up 20 minutes earlier and do it first thing in the morning to be sure it doesn’t get pushed aside when the day becomes too busy. If your commitment is to take your supplements every day, then maybe it will help to purchase a pill box from the pharmacy and organize yourself the evening before. Take deliberate action and preparation to ensure that you will be able to follow through with your commitment.
6. What comes to mind when you contemplate “commitment”?
When you hear the word commitment, do you immediately picture a skull and crossbones or someone struggling to carry a boulder on their back? It’s no wonder you want to head for the hills when you are faced with a commitment. Check in with yourself to see how you currently view commitment. Is it an accurate understanding, or is it shaded by judgement and preconceived notions? Maybe you can re-frame it and turn commitment into something positive that can help you achieve something, overcome something, accept something, etc. If you start to see commitment as a choice, rather than an obligation, you might feel a sense of freedom. No one is forcing you to uphold any commitment. You have the power to choose what to commit to and what not to commit to.
7. How will sticking with your commitments help you to achieve a goal or vision you have for yourself of where you want to be in the future?
Take a couple of minutes to visualize yourself achieving a particular goal. Let yourself feel all of the positive emotions you will have once you get there. Each achievement we make takes dedication and commitment to stay on course. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.
Putting it into perspective
I know you might be sitting there thinking that this is all good, but what the heck does it have to do with interstitial cystitis?
One thing I have learned throughout my struggle with IC, is that dealing with a chronic disease is NOT easy.
No matter which treatment route you take, it takes commitment to stick with the plan. Think about all of the dietary changes and sacrifices that you have had to make in order to feel better. That takes a huge commitment.
There are some days I am sure you want to just binge on a Mars bar, but you don’t. Why? Because you are committed to healing your bladder and that is more important than the fleeting pleasure of cheap chocolate.
So next time you find yourself struggling with your commitment to healing, or your commitment to walk for 20 min everyday, ask yourself the 7 questions and dig deep to move past your fear of commitment and back into action.
Do you have any tips that you have found effective when you find yourself stuck and avoiding commitment? I would love to hear about them. Please share in the comments section below!