We’re all surprisingly committed individuals, inasmuch as we’re all invested pretty seriously in our habits and patterns, productive or not.
Think about it: what’s the difference, commitment-wise, between someone who gets up every morning at 6:30 to run in the cold and snow, versus someone who, despite expressing intentions to do that, instead sleeps-in until 10 every morning?
Sure, the latter individual isn’t committed to a routine of running, but is committed to a routine of sleeping-in. So, when he/she complains, “See, I can’t make a commitment, I lack the discipline, that’s why I sleep-in every morning,” I’d rejoin, “Not so fast. You’ve got a streak of 42 straight days sleeping-in. That’s pretty impressive, in terms of a commitment.”
You might think I’m being glib? You might say, “Ha ha. That’s not indicative of a commitment…that’s just pure laziness and indiscipline.”
But I’d say, hold on. I think it is indicative of a commitment. I’d say, whenever you find yourself doing anything on a regular, predictable basis, you’re demonstrating commitment to whatever it is you’re doing on a regular basis.
As such, it’s amazingly common, for instance, to be highly committed to patterns of procrastination and avoidance. Sure, we bemoan the consequences of these commitments; but their undermining of our better interests doesn’t disqualify them as reflections of our capacity to commit.
In this sense, we’re all highly committed to our addictions, even those we most want to break, presumably. A broken commitment is just a different commitment—for instance, when I fall off the wagon, I break my commitment to sobriety while re-upping my commitment to drinking.
When you complain how uncommitted you’ve been to writing that novel you’ve been talking about writing for years, you neglect to emphasize how committed you’ve been not to write it.
When you reveal how commitment-phobic you’ve been in relationships, how you’ve refused to allow yourself to get too close to anyone, you’re choosing to de-emphasize how committed you’ve been to keeping others at arm’s length.
So, here’s the takeaway—stop hammering home the message, like a mantra, that you can’t make commitments, as even the conscious conviction to avoid commitments at all costs amounts to a fierce commitment to non-commitment.
In the end, we’re committed to all sorts of rituals, patterns, positions, interests, perceptions, attachments and beliefs, including ideas and convictions about ourselves.
The challenge is differentiating our more productive commitments from those that undermine our health, happiness and fulfillment.
It’s never too late, and always smart, to do this.