When Not to be True To Your Word

You’ve heard it said, “You’re only as good as your word.”

Being true to your word is great … except when it isn’t. Now I’m all for doing what you say you’re going to do, making vows and commitments and sticking to them, even when the going gets tough. Being true to your word is important. It makes you reliable and trustworthy, but there is something far more important, and it sometimes conflicts with Being True to Word, and that is Being True to Your Self.

Saying YES to one thing always means saying No to another. Many of us have been conditioned to say YES without thinking, putting another’s desires and needs above our own. When YES becomes a knee-jerk habitual response, being “True to Your Word” can shackle you to this self-defeating habit.

I’ve helped many women discover the Power of NO, but only after the years I spent learning it for myself. After all this time it’s still a practice that requires my attention.  For some of us it’s terrifying to say NO if we’ve been saying YES all of our lives; for fear of disappointing people, being seen as selfish, losing the love and acceptance of others.

We are told that we must do what we say we are going to do if we are to be trustworthy, but saying NO and Meaning it makes you more trustworthy than Saying YES and Secretly Resenting it.

We are all responding to one anothers energy all the time. So if you commit to doing something for me and follow through but secretly resent doing it and wish you were somewhere else, I’m going to pick up on that energy. I may not be consciously aware of what I’m picking up. I’ll just know something is off. Though you are doing what you said you would do, I’m going to feel like I can’t totally trust what’s happening, because your words and actions aren’t matching your energy.

So what if you said YES and meant it, but now you want to say NO. Commitments are important, and some people have to face their lack of commitment and follow through on things. But for some this commitment to your word is so rigid that it doesn’t allow for circumstances to change, your mind to change, or others to change.

One client found the courage to say “I DON’T” just a few months before her wedding date. Though she’d earlier said “I DO”, she was brave enough to listen to the small voice of discontent and act in a way that was true for her. Another was brave enough to say NO to signing a business contract that she had agreed to in word, but had not felt good about through the process. In both cases these were painful decisions with sleepless nights. Had either of these women stayed true to their word one would have ended up in a marriage that made her miserable and the other would have committed to being far busier than her body and soul wanted. Both would likely have resented being true to their word – perhaps for a very long time.

Many times I’ve paid the price for saying YES when I should have said NO. But I’m not the only one who’s paid. I’ve hired people who looked good on paper and said everything right, but something felt off to me even in the interview. It would have been kinder to everyone to let them know right away that they weren’t the right fit, rather than say YES and try to make it work. Plowing ahead because I said so, has never served me well.

Next time you’re about to do something because you said you would, take a moment to breathe softly and slowly. Feel your feet on the ground. Then imagine you are following through with what you are committing to. Notice how your body feels as you imagine that. Does it feel good or do you notice signs of stress?

If this is new to you it’s enough at first to just to pay attention to the times when your body is in agreement with your word and the times when there is a conflict. Notice which choice feels better in your body. You may not have the courage to follow your body’s wisdom at first. That’s fine.

When you bring awareness to what’s going on in your body, and listen to its message you can act by choice, even if you choose to override it. Awareness is the beginning of transforming habits. The more you check in with your body to see how YES feels, the more you will make decisions from that sense of alignment, and eventually being true to your word will be the same as being true to yourself.

Changing your mind may cost you time, and money, and your ego may take a hit, but it’s worth it to live in alignment with your truth.