I threw out a chocolate tea-time biscuit today – tossed it straight in the trash. For those of you who don’t know what a tea-time biscuit is – it is a crunchy chocolate sandwich biscuit (cookie if you are American) with a vanilla cream filling. If you are more familiar with American confectionery – imagine what would happen if a Bajan made oreo cookies. And why you ask am I tossing out a perfectly good biscuit? Well I should go back a step – I have decided to give up sugary snacks. Not forever, but I recently realized that an unexpected sugar habit crept up on me that I need to shake. Many reasons – it tastes good, it is convenient, and after a stressful day at work the only thing that brings my blood pressure down was a sugary snack – preferably chocolatey. And don’t tell me about eating dark chocolate instead – that does not cut it for me – I am not a fan!
So… why am I giving up sugar you might ask? It is in keeping with one of the lessons I learned after hitting the big 4.0. As some of you might remember, I started this blog with the lessons I learned before I turned 40. Now that I have been there for almost a year, and my next birthday is approaching, I have decided to do a miniseries of 10 lessons I learned in the past year since turning 40. I am going to start with my most recent lesson and it is all about keeping the commitments I make to myself. I feel like I am a pretty reliable person, and I make a real effort not to make promises I cannot keep – to other people. I really believe in having integrity and standing behind my word. However, one thing that I have not been so strict about was the promises that I make to myself. I began to realize that I would put the promises I made to other people at the top of my to-do list, and often anything I promised myself would be at the bottom, if it was on there at all! Eventually, after making (and breaking) the promises to myself, I stopped making them! Sometime in the past few weeks, during a course I am doing, the teacher spoke about how our self-esteem is linked to “the reputation we have with ourselves”. Just like how we all have that friend who has a reputation for “always being late” or "being a flake", we also have reputations with ourselves, and this is to do with how we follow through on decisions we make especially where we are the only beneficiary. If we continually flake out on attending to our own well-being, eventually we stop believing it is even possible! We get a bad reputation with ourselves!!! We doubt our own abilities and our self-esteem can suffer. This means that even when we can show up in other areas of life, or for the people in our lives, we stop showing up for ourselves.
For me I could see this happening in a few areas of my life, particularly when it comes to health, and so I decided to do something about it. I decided to have “The Commit Factor” and keep the commitment I made to myself when it comes to looking after my health. This does not mean I am doing some crazy 180 and suddenly becoming a health nut – however I have decided that each month I will add something different to my routine, and this month I am going with – less sugar, more water. This means no sugary snacks or sugary foods (or drinks), and 5 large glasses of water daily (at least). I am still going to add ketchup to my stew, and I still had peanut butter on crackers for breakfast a few days ago, but I also passed up on dessert and cake when offered to me, and I threw a tea-time biscuit that someone pressed into my hand earlier today in the trash! And I found that what made doing these things a tiny bit easier was looking at it as a promise kept, as opposed to some type of restriction. What is even better is that the more I say no, the easier it becomes.
It feels good to keep the agreement I made with myself, even better than when I keep the agreement I make with someone else! The aim is for this to become my default, so that I am able to work towards my own goals while assisting others with theirs. This also means that sometimes I will not be making a promise to someone if it means breaking a promise to myself! And for me that is alright too.
So now I turn it to you. What commitment to yourself are you not attending to? My promises to myself must be as important as those I make to other people, if not more. This will allow me to have a good reputation with myself, and keep me in great shape to continue to honor the promises I make to other people. Is it sorting out your finances, or like me dealing with your health? Is it following through on a project that you really want to do, or a skill you want to learn? Get the commit factor, and let me know in the comments what promise you are making to yourself!
And as always, I bring you big love from a small island!
Ps I took the above photo yesterday while keeping a promise I made to my nephew when I joined him at the beach! I have to be careful with him, he has a tendency to change the terms of these promises halfway through!