Do you keep promises to yourself? Big promises? Little promises?

Do you trust that you’ll do what you intend to do, or do you know – in the back of your mind – that it’s going to slip through the cracks?

The anatomy of a broken promise

When I was younger, I would constantly make big promises to myself – promises that would change my strongest habits, go against my strongest limiting beliefs, or even my nature. And then I’d feel like a failure when I couldn’t make it work, gave up, or gave into temptation.

When you constantly break promises to yourself, you let yourself down and emotionally beat yourself up. You dig yourself into a hole of self-defeat, sadness, and create a strong lack of confidence in yourself. It can be a symptom of (and worsen) low self-esteem and low self-love.

You can find yourself in this self-defeating cycle of control and rebellion.

And it’s a two-fer, because typically those promises reflect change we want to see in our lives, like eating healthy, sleeping better, and exercising more.

Broken Promises: What to do when you've lost trust in yourself.

What to do with all those broken promises

How do we get out of this cycle?

Start small.

Make an easy and small promise to yourself. And just one of them. Don’t supersize a promise by picking something easy but then demanding that you do it every day for the rest of your life.

Buy 1 apple and eat it or take 1 short walk.

And when you’re tempted to break your promise – out of habit or rebellion – notice and try to keep it anyway. That’s why we made it an easy promise.

Each one you keep is a deposit into your personal account. A small deposit that tells yourself that you do care about you, you do deserve good things, and you can trust yourself.

Broken Promises: What to do when you've lost trust in yourself.

It might take some time. It might take a lot of time. Your bank account might be far in the red.

But with every 1 apple eaten, 1 block walked, or 1 chapter read, you’ll make deposits. And even though they are simple things, they are significant things. Keeping promises takes practice. And just as broken promises can erode faith and love, fulfillment of (even the tiniest of) promises builds them up.

Personal victories

Besides gaining trust in yourself, you’ll learn what makes a good promise and what doesn’t. Your tiny personal victories will lead to bigger personal victories, and then to big public victories.

When once you may have privately broken every promise to run – now you are publicly crossing a marathon finish line.

But first you have to get that account out of the red and into the black.

First you have to learn to trust yourself and love yourself enough to do the things that will make your life better.

You deserve it. You just don’t know it yet.