Broken Promises

Ever wonder what to do when someone doesn’t keep their word? And what if this person is in a regular habit of making promises he or she does not keep?

Do you take it personally, and feel like this is a personal attack on you when someone says they will do something, then doesn’t do it?

Do you put your faith in someone, because they’ve given you their word, then feel slighted when they do not perform, and offer up excuses, that “something came up,” and they were unable to keep their promise?

In terms of promise keepers, there are only two kinds; those who do, and those who don’t.

If you’re not a promise keeper, then it would be reasonable to have lower expectations when it comes to someone’s keeping their promises, but if you’re a promise keeper and you’ve made considerable sacrifices throughout your life to keep your word and have a high degree of integrity, then you’re likely to have higher expectations from others.

The most important thing to remember is that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go ‘round. The world is full of both promise keepers and promise breakers, and sometimes even promise keepers can break promises, due to unforeseen circumstances, or acts of God.

If you’re a promise keeper, you can easily align yourself with Don Miguel Ruiz’s primary tenet of the “Four Agreements” which is to

Be impeccable with your word

This holds the bar very high, for yourself. You strive to be impeccable with your word and go to great lengths to do so. It communicates to others in our social circle, and the world that surrounds us, that you are dependable and trustworthy when you are impeccable with your word.

While you have opted to be the integrous, dependable and honorable promise keeper, you cannot impose the importance of this concept on anyone else. Of course, you could opt to take a self-righteous and judgmental stand and eject all the promise breakers from your life; but where is the joy in that?

Although, you can manage the sacred space around you, and keep promise-breakers at arm’s length, in tolerance, accept them for who they are. They are not broken, sick, or have malicious intentions to hurt your feelings. They are only being who they are. Their inability to keep their word is not good, it’s not bad, it just is the way they are. So, treat them accordingly.

Don’t place them in positions to make agreements or promises they are unlikely to adhere to. If you want someone to be an active participant who is supportive, dependable, integrous and has the ability to keep their world, do not even think of inviting this person to participate at that level. They are not hooked up that way, and you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment, and probably building a stockpile of resentment against this person. Don’t do it. Instead, accept this person for who they are, and love them and all their idiosyncrasies. People like that bring color to your life. Love them, bless them, and let them be who they are.

And when someone hurts your feeling because they broke a promise, think about Don Miguel Ruiz’s second tenet,

Don’t take it personally

Their inability to keep their word has nothing to do with you. They are not seeking out to destroy you, harm you, hurt your feelings, or make you look bad. They are just being who they are, just as you are being who you are.

You must allow people to be who they are, to accept them as different and unbroken.

Although, you do not have to set yourself up for disappointment. If you want someone dependable, trustworthy, reliable, (someone who has the ability to keep their word) then look elsewhere.

You cannot expect a cat to be a dog. If you want a dog, find yourself a dog. Do not expect a cat to act like a dog. A cat is a cat, and a dog is a dog.

Love the cat for being a cat, and love the dog for being a dog, but be smart about it. You should treat each of them, the cat and the dog like they should be treated based on who they are.

Should I forgive them for not keeping their word?

If they are not the kind of person to keep their word, then there is nothing to forgive. You cannot forgive someone who is only being who they are (especially if you knew in advance that they were not a promise keeper). You knew better.

If a promise keeper, someone you know who is impeccable with their word, has not followed through, then by all means, forgiveness is in order, for none of us are perfect, and you might even be able to recall a time when you made a promise that you were unable to keep due to circumstances outside your control.

So, yes, forgiveness should be the first order of business when you know you’re dealing with someone who is otherwise impeccable with their word.

If a promise keeper is in the habit of not keeping their promises, you may want to re-evaluate who this person really is. You might be dealing with a cat, who wants you to think of him or her like a dog.

Be aware this happens when someone is trying to please you, know you want a dog and desires to be a dog for you, even though they are a cat. Where is the harm in that? Just let them know there’s nothing wrong with being a cat, and readjust to treat them like a cat.

In most cases when a cat is masquerading as a dog, the intent is not nefarious, unless you’re dealing with a psychopath or sociopath.