Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Keeping Blankety Blank Promises to My Self

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I know. I know. I promised to talk about humiliation this time.

But keeping promises to myself got in the way again. You'll recall, a few posts ago, I talked about this promise-keeping business. I made a vow. And let me tell you, I take vows seriously. While hanging around in an airport, not by choice mind you, I discovered what I thought was a key piece to ending self-bashing once and for all. (To read that post first, click here.)

After that epiphany I made a pledge. Drum roll, please.

I pledged to stay on a health program for thirty days. What I didn't say before is that I also pledged to give up things I love, including Diet Coke. My new mantra explains my desire: "Nothing outside of myself controls me." I didn't want to need caffeine. I didn't want to have to have a Diet Coke for things to be okay (first thing in the morning, at break, at lunch, at...well, you get the picture).

Last weekend, I made a pre-meditated decision to break my promise to myself. I tossed all the rules out the window and purchased the BIG BAD THREE—Diet Coke, alcohol and chips. And my splurge was Fabulous! My Saboteur stepped in and sealed the deal. I had a Diet Coke with my pre-dinner snack of chips. And drank wine with supper. Some of you are thinking so what? The what is I made a promise to not buy or consume the BIG BAD THREE for thirty days. I was working on day number 18. I will not tell you about the following Monday. Let's just say...tennis ladies event, we weren't on the courts and it involved a restaurant.

Before I continue on...I also want you to understand that I believe in moderation and not the complete banning of everything I enjoy FOREVER. It's just that I made this promise. A stupid promise. A promise I now know I couldn't keep.

Okay so here's how the old routine would go after falling off the proverbial wagon, "You suck. You're terrible. You're twisted. What's your freakin' problem?" I'd also throw in a few slams about how I looked too.

I waited. And waited. But the self-bashing never came. Hmmm. I thought this self-loathing business was because I couldn't keep promises to myself. Yep, I definitely broke a promise. Hmmm. Maybe it's not that simple.

This time after walking backwards, I responded differently. My response contains the answer. Instead of calling myself names, I asked questions. "Wonder why I did that? Wonder why I took two steps forward and one step back? What is the trigger? And how do I make it stop? How do I truly step into the idea that nothing outside of myself controls me?"

So what changed?

Then it hit me. I realized, wow, I am still making progress and I am still moving forward in the direction of health. If I looked back to 18 days previously, I was a person who allowed things outside of herself to control her. Fast forward to my new reality. Wow. I don't have to drink Diet Coke all day anymore. My home-made lemonade concoction and plain old fashioned water suit me fine.

I skipped self-bashing, self-loathing and immediately jumped to, "but look...I didn't drink Diet Coke for 18 days. I feel better because I haven't had any alcohol for that long." (Well, it was 18 days without, if you forget the glass of wine I had while in the hot tub.) I even caught myself repeating Scarlett O'Hara. "After all, tomorrow is another day!"

And then came yet another "aha" moment. It was a key piece that I didn't find on my way to Chicago. The key is not to swear away every detail. Don't make proclamations like, "I will NOT do this for this many days." All you are doing is setting yourself up for failure. Instead make sweeping, global, grand promises. Like, "I will make healthier choices." So the vow becomes a general statement..."I will make healthier choices. I will be more loving. I will be more forgiving. I will take action."

The key is the "big picture" statement. Forget perfection. It's the continued practice that moves us in the right direction. Also important are how you classify the "how-to's" like no diet coke, less wine, no chips. The how-to's are the guidelines—not the vow.

That's why I didn't turn to self-bashing this time. I'm still on course to being healthier. For the most part, I am making healthier choices. And now I can say, "Nothing outside myself controls me," and mean it. Yes, I still might want the things I have deemed not healthy, and I will have them occasionally. But I don't have to have them to function. I no longer waste energy thinking about how to get them anymore...when I don't have them.

What's the next step. We keep our promises to ourselves by staying true to the overall objective and by not getting bogged down in the rules (guidelines). And when we take a few missteps (meaning we break a guideline), we stand up dust ourselves off and we continue to keep plugging away by jumping back in the wagon and continuing what we've started.

Next time...we'll tackle humiliation. Now that's a fun one.

P.S. We're launching a brand new on-line community for moms and girls this spring. I'll be giving you details soon. It will be much more interactive than QueenPower.com. You'll be able to blog, comment and chitchat on our forums. You'll be able to add photos and video to your personal pages. There will also be the opportunity to organize your own groups within our community. For example, we're looking for someone to run our book club group for moms and daughters. Oh and incase you don't think your computer skills are up for it...you'll be pleasantly surprised. It's very easy to join and use!

For any writers who subscribe to QueenPower.com, we are looking for bloggers on subjects relevant for moms and girls. If you an interest, please email me.


Nicole said...

Wow! Congratulations on 18 days and on being farther down the road to health and self-love. AWESOME!

And thank you for helping me let the voices calm down in my own head. I was reading along thinking, "Why can't YOU stop doing unhealthy things for a month? Why don't you even TRY?" Well, part of me knew there was no sense in promising not to eat chocolate while there was still Valentine's day chocolate in the house...and hey, my husband remembered to buy me some, so I couldn't throw it away.

But seriously, you've given me food for thought (hehe) because I know that your happy medium is more where I'd like to be. I may have kicked the cigarettes habit, but as has happened in the past, I went immediately on to the chocolate addiction.

Coming soon...the addiction chameleon blog, for your reading pleasure! =)

Thanks again for sharing! It helps so much!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thirty days, huh? I think I can do that as long as I don't outline too much of a program for each day! Work keeps interfering!
While we're on the subject, I attended an ABWA meeting (Assoc. of Business Women of America) last night and we had a really amazing speaker with many degrees in all the related disciplines to excercise it made my head dizzy. One of her tips. Walking on sand barefoot is in the top three most effective ways to exercise. Now, if that isn't a good excuse for getting to the beach, I never heard of one.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Blogging at www.thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com

Allyn Evans said...

Congrats to you, Nicole, for kicking the smoking habit.

I can't begin to imagine how difficult it was to do.

And I can't wait to read your thoughts in the upcoming post you mentioned.

Thanks for the comments, Nicole and Carolyn!

linda said...

Hey Allyn!

Congratulations on keeping those promises to yourself. Those seem to be the most difficult to follow through on.

Like you, I set out on a journey to give up my drink of choice: an 8 oz. Dr. Pepper in a plastic bottle - every day at 3:00. Often my creative muse could only be summoned by my Dr. Pepper.

I allowed myself one Dr. Pepper each weekend as a reward - for giving them up the rest of the week? Now that I type that, it seems a ridiculous reason.

Yesterday, the one I treated myself to tasted awful - my typical response when I haven't had them for awhile. It was too too too sweet - and I wondered why I had ever thought they were good. Maybe now I'm over the hurdle and on to healthier choices.

And BTW - I'm using your mantra: No thing ouside my self controls me! Thanks for sharing -


Allyn Evans said...

Linda, I can't wait till I reach the point to not like the way Diet Coke tastes!

But each day, I do find it easier and the desire dimensioning.

The other day I had a lunch with an insightful friend. I talked about this promise-keeping business. She laughed, "Stop making promises."

Well, that too is an answer. :)

R. M. Ziegler said...

I admire your strength. I also agree with your insightful friend. Stop making promises. I especially like your mantra: nothing outside myself controls me. I'm posting that one. Best, Marie

Allyn Evans said...

Thanks Marie,

Some days are better than others. I keep returning to what my friend said about not making promises...yes, that's so much easier.

But something is pushing me to figure this out. And I'm still working on it. Not all is well in "promise-keeping land".

Right now, I'm actually eating a little humble pie and drinking a Diet Coke.