A reasonable definition of commitment would be that one does what they say they’re going to do, over time. It’s not necessarily the willingness to start a project that defines commitment, though that’s the language that we’ll use (“I’m committing to this change,” we’ll say at the start). In reality, the commitment doesn’t come in until we’re demonstrating that we’re willing to do something more than once–even having a willingness to shift other aspects of our lives in order to serve the commitment.
After years of coaching clients, here’s what I feel I can say for sure (and may this provide you some measure of comfort): Your level of desire is not necessarily defined by your level of commitment.
I have met people who want things very, very much. They think about them. They plot. They plan. They read blogs of other people who are doing them. They try things out a little, then back off. They tell others about their dreams. They make life lists. They have a very strong level of desire.
What people have trouble with in the commitment arena is not desire–it’s not even willingness to commit. People have trouble with fear.
Fear shows up in a lot of different ways. We think of fear as being the “Ohmigod, I’m so scared now” stuff. In fact, I think fear shows up sometimes as outright laziness. Resistance. Suddenly feeling like something just isn’t a good idea anymore. Abrupt U-Turns in plans (“Well, maybe I don’t even want to become a _________, after all,” someone might say after enthusiastically putting months of work into switching careers).
So, me being the one who works with helping people to tap into their courage and all, I think maybe a good question to ask at the outset of all this, if we’re talking about commitment, is this: what’s the fear?
When it comes to Creating Stillness, it would be fair to say that everyone’s fear is:
What will be in that stillness? What if there’s not peace and quiet, there? What if I find strong feelings of sadness, guilt, shame, regret? What if I realize that I’m in the wrong marriage? What if some thought comes to me that, once I’ve thought it, I simply cannot ignore it?
At first, this is exactly what happens when you sit down and start getting quiet on the cushion. Intense feelings of anxiety, boredom, fear, anger, sadness, loss–all of that comes up.
And then you keep sitting or getting still, and they scatter like the wind.
Those fears, too, are part of the self-perpetuated drama. All of our attempts at control, or attempts to avoid getting quiet with ourselves, are not to protect us from some deep-seeded pain. In fact, the fear of the deep-seeded pain is just bouncing around in response to our control or avoidance.
Once we sit through that, what shows is a layer of quiet that translates into the rest of our day.
But we’re talking about commitment, so I don’t want to share what can happen one time or a few times. I want to invite you (and myself) into creating stillness for yourself in five minute bits each day.
First task: When will you do it? How will you remain accountable?
Accountable is a word people often have even more resistance to than commitment--but of course, it’s essential at the beginning. I invite you into being accountable to yourself, and leaving it at that.
Decide how often you’re willing to just spend 5 minutes daily in a space where you are creating stillness in your life. Commit to the idea that if you sit down to do this and simply don’t want to, it’s okay to let that go and just try again the next day.