When interacting with others, we usually have good intentions, especially when they are in need. We like feeling helpful. When our friends or loved ones need a hand, we want to be there offering up a truck for moving, a letter of recommendation, or whatever they need to get through a challenging time. Yet, words come easy. It’s the action that is hard to do.
Life happens. We get caught up in other commitments and suddenly that thing we’ve promised to do becomes another chore on a list—a chore we’re happy to put off. The Kabbalah Centre teaches that once we make a promise it’s our responsibility to fulfill it. In the Hebrew Bible, Moses states, “If a man makes a vow to God or swears an oath, he must not permit his word to remain unfulfilled. He shall do whatever has come forth from his mouth.”
We can all agree that failing to follow through with a promise is not the best way to maintain positive relationships. But what many of us do not realize is that when we do not keep a promise, it creates negativity. Making a vow, whether to ourselves or to another person, opens up channels for the Light to flow into our lives. That is, we receive all the energy we need to meet that goal. When we break that promise through inaction, that energy becomes stagnant and can cause harm. It’s almost as if we’ve stolen that energy.
Being unreliable does more damage than we think. Sure, it changes how others see us and we become untrustworthy in their eyes. But it also changes how we see ourselves. One broken promise makes it easier to break another. Soon, being irresponsible begins to feel like no big deal and we become apathetic to our commitments. Of course, we aim to be the kind of friend, parent, or partner who people can count on. When we don’t keep our promises, not only do we fall short, we also compromise our self-image and self-confidence. We lose faith in ourselves.
Before making a commitment, ask yourself why you are making a promise in the first place. Do you hope to get something in return? Or is it simply out of good will? Instead of making a promise you may not be able to keep, why not surprise someone with an act of kindness?
The Hebrew proverb, “Promise little and do much,” echoes kabbalistic wisdom. If you find that you have been neglecting your commitments, try to only make promises you know you can positively keep. Then be diligent in following through. Small shifts towards acting more responsibly bring us closer to the Creator and reveal more Light in the world.