An exploration of commitment & writing a new story
What am I making commitment mean?
I relate commitment to something I don’t want to do but feel pressure to do it anyways. Commitment especially appears in the context of work for me. I committed to my studies at university and to working for an automotive company. I signed a contract. So the old conditioning was, that what I commit to, I can never undo. Because that would mean I’m a failure. Worthless. And some other mean thoughts coming up that make me feel small and ashamed.
In German, the word commitment is translated with “Verpflichtung” – and “Pflicht” means duty or obligation. I just put it in google translate and see what comes up:
an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action
“…that restricts freedom of action.” Wow. Yes, that’s what it feels to me. Brings up all the emotions. The block in the throat.
What is it that I am scared of if I would begin a practice of committing?
So to repeat what is present for me in regards to commitment: I committed to things I thought I had to do but didn’t really want to. And if for any reason I would break this commitment, that means I’m a failure.
There is also fear coming up. I’m afraid that if I commit to something, I will burn out again and be depressed. Because this is what I relate to work.
There is an aspect of not being able to trust me. Trust that I will take care of my health and well-being. Of my energy. Of my joy.
Another aspect of commitment
BUT there is a second definition of commitment:
the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.
And now that I ponder about that, there are commitments in my life that I have chosen.
- One example is the marriage with the most wonderful human being I could ever imagine. It never felt like an obligation or duty. I am committed to our love and our relationship.
- Then there was the decision to leave Germany and commit to finding a lifestyle that brings more ease and joy into my life. No obligation.
It’s getting tricky – hello conditioning
So the first case I described felt like something was happening to me. And I had no choice. (Yes I know, that this was still my choice, but it’s just how it feels.) I had to study business and work simultaneously because then the time that I would earn a lot of money is way less than if I would study something that excites me. That was the story. ‘To me’ consciousness.
The next examples felt more like I chose this. With excitement. Heartfelt decisions and not dictated by any conditioning. ‘By me’ consciousness. I will talk about the different levels of consciousness another time.
And here comes the tricky part now: These feelings, ideas, thoughts, and conditioning get mixed up.
Especially in my business. Although I am the one who consciously chooses what I commit to, there is still the old conditioning of failure and shame kicking in. So I better not commit to anything!
Uuuh some side realization coming in: Earlier in my life, still living in Germany, my calendar was full of appointments aka commitments. After leaving Germany, I hated to make any appointments. So from one extreme to another.
A new story of what commitment means to me
I feel that I’m already on my way to finding balance here. Experiencing different energies around commitment.
For some months already I feel drawn to the word ‘devotion’. Here’s an official definition:
love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause
Just reading this makes me smile and light up. I sit more upright, my shoulders relax a little, and my chest comes forward. I feel an opening. Expansion.
There is another definition:
to sacrifice oneself
I don’t feel like sacrificing myself when I think about devotion. It’s interesting to me how we as a society define words. Just words. What’s making a difference are the individual feelings or meanings we attach those words to.
My new truth about commitment
So here is my new current truth about commitment:
Commitment is a promise, to devote my energy to a cause, activity, or relationship. It’s tending to the seeds that I’ve planted when I am in an energy of intention and motivation. I don’t have to stick with this commitment forever or until I have achieved something. Rather for as long as it feels good. Being aware that this doesn’t mean that there will ALWAYS be enthusiasm about ALL activities related to the cause, activity, or relationship I have committed to.
It’s important to check in with my initial intention and motivation, which has led me to the commitment. Are these still present? It’s my choice. I can choose to adjust, I can choose to pause, or I can choose to cancel. If I commit to something, I am still allowed to uncommit at any point in time.
I invite you to reflect on what resonates with your own experiences and what doesn’t. What I’m writing here is what I know so far and what feels true for me in this moment. It might be a partially or even completely different truth for you.