“In the first place, you shouldn’t believe promises. The world is full of them: The promise of riches, of eternal salvation, of infinite love. Some people believe they can promise anything, others accept whatever seems to guarantee better days ahead…Those who make promises they don’t keep end up powerless and frustrated, and exactly the fate awaits those who believe promises.” (Paul Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym)
For many reasons this month, I am reminded of promises.
Some I have spoken. Others I have broken. Many I have kept. Others were intended, but forgotten.
I do not believe that I have ever promised anything that I purposely planned on breaking. Yet, I am guilty of not coming through on what I have said I will do, or what I have said is important to me.
I am also guilty of believing what others have promised me. And I am quite sure that when these others spoke their promises to me they, too, had good intentions and never planned to hurt me, any more than my words were to hurt them.
What we say, do, and make promise to can either help us build a relationship or break it down. Love is enhanced or is questioned. Trust is cultivated or it is destroyed. Whether someone does it to us or whether we do it others, we bring about connection or we push others away.
I will agree that there must be some responsibility taken as having unrealistic expectations of perfection of others and ourselves. In fact, many of the disappointments I have faced in life are when I am too rigid or critical in dealing with my relationships with others and myself.
I also believe that we share the same responsibility for what we say we will do, how we follow through, and the words of love, devotion, adoration and promise we speak to another.
We can have all the best of intentions, but when we hurt others, we hurt ourselves equally, if not more. When we continue to break our promises, we run the risk of living in a constant state of shame and guilt, which does not allow us the promise of love and joy.
Perhaps, the true promise is in loving oneself enough to be willing to continue to open up and receive the love and joy that others have to offer.