Self-commitment, the act of engaging with oneself, may seem like an indulgent concept.
This is especially so in the Western world where being busy and serving others is, for many, a normal part of daily life. Even simple things like writing a journal or attending a yoga class can induce feelings of guilt.
All too often we avoid stillness, preferring to cram an endless round of exhausting social events into our calendars, on top of demanding work schedules.
It’s no coincidence that we are suffering a global mental health crisis.
Have we lost the ability to be present in the moment?
Cramming our days full has become the norm. We may feel particularly pleased with ourselves when we flop into bed after getting through a full day’s work and making it to the gym, as well as catching up with friends, before squeezing in an episode of the latest series trending on Netflix washed down with a well-earned glass of wine.
But this is a typical cycle that lacks self-awareness and is a recipe for burnout.
As we become busier, we are actually disconnecting from life. We aren’t really listening to our friends. We are, if we are honest with ourselves, all the while thinking about what we have to do next. At the same time, we are distracted by our addiction to Smartphones and social media.
In the modern world, we run on such a fast track it can often feel like we are merely spectators in our own lives. Everything we do is routinely ticked off with a sense of relief. We are never actually fully present in what we do because we are already thinking of how to achieve the next thing on our to-do list.
Yet every big tick we apply to our ever-growing list of things to do is weirdly unsatisfying. Isn’t that telling us something?
Being busy is ruining our lives
Our inability to be present in the moment is affecting our happiness and having a detrimental effect on our lives. We don’t have time or the inclination to smile at a stranger, help someone across the street or get shopping for a neighbour. Ironically, being busy is a lonely place and it is stifling our ability to connect with our ‘selves’ and others. This disconnect is fuelling the rise in mental health problems.
In order to reconnect with our inner selves, we need stillness, but there isn’t an awful lot of that around in our modern always-switched-on 24/7 world. This is one reason why going away on retreat is becoming more popular. The demand for stillness is growing. People need a break from the whirling merry-go-round of everyday life.
Modern life is incredibly demanding. But we can take our foot off the accelerator. That is why self-commitment is so important right now. It is through a process of self-commitment that we can start to feel present again, learn to rush less, nourish ourselves, and authentically connect with others.
One of the most misleading facts about being busy is that it equates with efficiency. But it simply isn’t true. Practising self-commitment and taking time to be still can actually increase effectiveness in daily life. The busier we get without presence of mind, the more likely it is that we become inefficient and ineffective, and that breeds a downward spiral of dissatisfaction. Being busy without presence is exhausting and ruinous.
We need to care first for ourselves before we can authentically care for others
When was the last time you cared for a friend, a neighbour or a family member with real presence of mind? Can we really care for others if we don’t know how to take proper care of ourselves?
We so often associate self-care with being selfish. But taking care of ourselves is the opposite of being selfish, as it strengthens us and enables us to offer genuine support to our loved ones.
It is through self-understanding that we have the opportunity to change habits that are damaging. When we look after ourselves we are more resilient and have a greater capacity to love and care for others.
Self-commitment is the catalyst for a better world
Self-commitment is fundamental to our personal and spiritual growth, and to our general wellbeing. It contributes to our enjoyment of life and informs how we interact with our family, friends, colleagues, strangers and the wider world.
Why do we stay in jobs we don’t like? Why do we continue to commit to relationships that aren’t good for us? Why do we make compromises that don’t serve us well?
In these instances, we aren’t committed to ourselves. Instead, we are committed to a destructive cycle that drains us of self-worth and self-love. This erodes us and has an impact on everyone around us.
When we reach crisis point and throw in the hellish job or end the toxic relationship – that is a kind of self-commitment. We are being active in ending something that isn’t good for us. At this juncture, we are looking deep inside and taking a new path.
But true self-commitment isn’t about taking unsustainable drastic measures. Subtle energy changes are far more likely to have a lasting effect than a big upheaval. How many people end a toxic relationship only to fall straight back into an equally damaging one?
Self-commitment is a practice. It’s not a thing you do once or twice in a lifetime. It is about stopping for a moment on a regular basis. It is about self-awareness and reflection. Self-commitment means learning to notice your body, your thoughts and your feelings. It means developing the ability to listen to your inner voice.
The practice of self-commitment is a catalyst for personal growth and it will help you to lead a more fulfilling life. It will take you out of your comfort zone, but it will also bring joy, compassion and feeling back into your heart. It is the catalyst for a better world.
How to start a practice of self-commitment
At The Place, we are making November the month of Self-Commitment. This means that we will stick to our own intentions, no matter what. Having a strong commitment to ourselves will allow us to move from being a spectator to an active participant in our own lives.
In this guided meditation, The Place Retreat’s Head of Wellness, Manuela Herreros, invites you to start each morning with a set of exercises to help you to wake up your energy and commit this energy to yourself.
Self-commitment may seem like an alien concept, but without it life will simply pass us by.
Questions like, ‘who are you?’ or ‘what are your dreams in life?’ never get asked or answered.
Ask yourself this. If you were able to choose a life you could truly love and enjoy, what would it be like?
Self-commitment is the first step in making the life you want a reality.