Being Reliable (to yourself)

I have done a few “values” workshops lately, which I have found tremendously helpful in choosing the right friendships and romantic partnerships, projects to pursue, and clients to work with. Among my list was reliability.. meaning If I say I am going to do something, I do it. While many may think of reliability in terms of meeting the expectations of others, I mean it both ways -- when I tell myself I will do something and when I tell others I will do something. You may find one easier than the other, depending on how you relate to inner and outer expectations. (If you want to learn more about this, check out Gretchen Rubin’s 4 tendencies quiz – super interesting).  

As a health coach, I see that many of us struggle to do the things we tell ourselves we will do.  Most of us juggle both work and personal relationships, care for our loved ones all the while trying to eat well, exercise, make time for relaxation and actually being present to all the things. This is not easy. The promises we make to ourselves may seem like the easiest ones to break. I  often hear things like, “I tried (promised myself) to exercise more, but that only lasted a week or two,” “I said I would stop work at 7pm, but then when work piles up, I work until 9 or 10pm anyways,” “I vowed to cut my wine/sugar/caffeine addiction, but then I’m stressed/sad/bored, I do it anyways.”

It is damn hard to keep promises we make to ourselves, maybe in part because we (unconsciously) don’t see them as promises that need to be kept. This ties into reliability – self-reliability.

If we make promises to ourselves and then fail to follow through, we subtly teach ourselves that we can say things to ourselves and not mean them. That the vows made internally are not that important. We can teach ourselves that we need not be reliable - to ourselves. This creates an integrity gap – a gap between what we say and know we should do versus what we actually do.

What do I mean by that? Integrity has a similar meaning to integrated which means coming together or being whole. What comes together when we make promises to ourselves is the knowledge we get from our physical body, body of energy, mental/thought knowledge and the knowledge of intuition. For instance, when our physical body tells us it wants to be fed a certain way and we ignore it, then we block out this (embodied) knowledge. When we feel heavy and tired and we know that regular movement makes us energetic but we fail to do it, we ignore this knowledge. When we use our mind/thought body too much (i.e. work too much) and our mind tell us it needs a rest – be that to meditate, walk in nature, or play – and we push through instead, we ignore this and instead run the risk of burning ourselves out. Our intuition, or “gut feeling” is the man behind the mirror in all of this – it is telling us how we want to eat, move, work and rest.

When we integrate this knowledge in to our decisions, there are less gaps between what we say (internally) and what we do. We teach ourselves that we can both make promises to ourselves and keep promises to ourselves. We build up our self-reliability. We feel more integrated. More whole. More connected to ourselves. All the good stuff.

This is the most common feedback I get from my coaching clients - that they have so much more awareness of their mind/body/spirits’ needs. Information comes in and it is not (as often) ignored. They are aware that when they eat this thing, they will feel a certain way. That their bodies want to move first thing in the morning and looking at news/emails/the cell phone feels wrong. That when their eyes get tired, they are communicating that rest should happen. Simple ways that our bodies communicate their needs to us that we start to listen to. It’s like a muscle that needs to be developed over time. That’s what my course is all about.

I, for one, am not perfect at this (and don’t expect my clients to be either). I aim for listening to my body at least 80% of the time. And still allowing for the perfect glass of wine at a dinner with my sweetie, staying out late when in a deep conversation with friends, or indulging in pizza (like now) when I on holiday in Napoli. Not perfect. But a regular integration of what I know into what I do.

I am offering Align to Thrive just twice a year at present, and the next one starts October 14. I chat with anyone who is interested either over tea (in Munich) or over the phone. I would love to hear from you.

Kari Zabel