The second stage in the path to disconnect comes in two parts. The first is promisesbroken. We know that promises made and fulfilled strengthen a relationship. As you might guess, the opposite is also true. The second phase of disconnection begins with promisesmadeandbroken. These are the things said or done that may go unnoticed by the offender, but are a sharp sting to the recipient. Don’t fool yourself. These are small promises, but they add up. Home late from work without the promised call. Forgetting date night planned for Saturday. Not going to his baseball game because something came up.
Some philosophers tell you to think about promises as though they were a bank account. When you do what you promise, no matter how small, you put credits in the trust account. If you build your relationship the right way, the bank account always has a surplus of credits. This surplus allows you to break a few promises and still have a positive balance. You think you are doing just fine. But this is FALSE. Promises are sacred. Honor in life is everything and honor is built on the foundation of the promises made and kept. Never take a promise lightly. Not the small ones and especially the ones you make to yourself or your maker.
Trust is the foundation of all healthy relationships. Relationships between individuals, companies and countries. To be honest, I can’t think of a thing I do all day that doesn’t rely on trust. Here are some examples: I get out of bed and trust that my alarm clock was set correctly last night. I walk to the bathroom, trusting that I moved the dog’s tennis ball so I wouldn’t step on it in the dark. I trust the toothpaste I use is safe to brush my teeth. I take a hand full of vitamins and trust that the manufacturers have good quality control of the ingredients. I trust my car will start, I will get to work safely and still have a job. All that trust is built on experiences. Successful experiences, after promises were made and kept. Make a promise. Keep that promise. Build trust. A Steveism – Trustisnotgivenitisearned.
So, if the glue that holds everything together from personal relationships to countries is trust and trust is making promises and keeping them, broken promises undermine the very foundation on which our lives are built.
If promisesmadeandbroken is the first sin in this phase of disconnection then wordssaidinanger is the second. You’ve probably heard the rule about fighting fair in a relationship. Personally, I believe that fighting in a relationship is wrong. Discussing and disagreeing are natural and healthy, but to me, fighting means somebody loses. When one person loses in a relationship, you both lose.
It’s not easy, but you must learn to take responsibility for your actions. No excuses. Don’t say “I got mad because you said…” “I couldn’t come to your game because I…” You either broke a promise or did something hurtful. The operative word is you. Take responsibility for your actions. That’s what we do to grow as individuals and partners. We all make mistakes. We are human and fallible, so step up. Take responsibility.
I love what is taught in the Buddhist religion. If you have the right thoughts in your head, you will say the right things. If you say the right things you will do the right actions. Simple to say, not so easy to do. But all great things start with a beginning.
When you are wrong, you need to sincerely apologize. “I should have started earlier from work because I knew the traffic can be bad. It’s my fault I was late for your game and I’m very sorry.” “There is no excuse for me losing my temper. I am embarrassed by my actions. I’m so sorry I hurt you.”
In most cases, taking responsibility and apologizing honestly and sincerely can repair the damage. But don’t misunderstand, taking these two actions doesn’t have much value unless you also work on changing those behaviors in the future. Words are great, but right actions build trust.
How do you know you are on the right track? What helps hold you accountable? Write a mission statement. State what you believe in and how you will act on those beliefs. Before you break a promise or speak in anger, look at your mission statement. Are the words or the actions you are considering aligned with your mission statement? If not, don’t say it and don’t do it.
My mission statement is pretty simple. I want every one’s life that touches mine to be a little better because they knew me. Sounds a little Pollyanna doesn’t it? You’re right. It is. But it works. All the time? No. I’m human just like you and I make mistakes, but I always gravitate back to my mission. If you don’t have a mission statement, get one.
✔ Write a Mission Statement
✔ Live By Your Mission
✔ Make promises you intend to keep.
✔ Take promises seriously.
✔ Build trust on the back of those promises.
✔ Think before you speak.
✔ Do no harm.
✔ Take responsibility for your actions
✔ Sincerely apologize
✔Change Negative Behaviors
✔Be the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are
Wow! Don’t miss the next post dealing with passive aggressive behavior, infidelity and abuse.