The definition of promise states it is “a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.” Most of us make commitments to others all the time, such as, “I’ll be there, I promise.” It’s impossible to follow through every single promise we make in life, but a good question to ask is, how often do we keep our promise? How many do we break and how do we handle it when we do? This is important to understanding ourselves.
If we find ourselves making more commitments than we are able to keep, asking ourselves a few more questions might help. Psychology Today offers a few pointers:
- What is my motivation behind the promise? What is my intention? Is it for the recipient or myself? Being honest about why we are committing to something can clue us in as whether or not we should make the promise to begin with.
- Am I being realistic? Life moves fast and we sometimes need to pick and choose how we spend our time. Before committing, consider your schedule and ask yourself if this is a promise you can keep. It’s better to under-commit and over-deliver than over-promise and fall short.
- Is it crucial for me to make this promise? There’s nothing in life that forces us to make promises to others. If you aren’t sure whether you can come through or not, it’s perfectly fine to set appropriate expectations. People respect honesty even when they’re faced with an answer they might not want to hear.
- When I break a promise, do I handle it well? When we unexpectedly cannot come through on our commitments, communication can help. If you’re unable to meet a friend, give them a heads-up as early as possible so they can make other plans. Most people are reasonable when it comes to a change of plans, as long as we have an explanation and are kind about it.
Keeping these things in mind can help manage commitments effectively, which helps us feel good about our promise track record!
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep…”
Think back on a time when you kept or broke a promise. How did it make you and the other person feel? Put that in a poem. Or, what if you speak as if you are the promise itself? Try it.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s a haiku from Donna we enjoyed:
I carry the world-
Pocketful of juicy bits;
Mandala of seeds.
Photo by Liz West. Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland