Does this sound familiar? You’re at a meeting and too afraid to speak up and ask about something when someone else pipes up and asks the very question you had in mind? And then you berate yourself for not asking? You’re experiencing some angst, and when asked how you’re doing you respond with, ‘fine’. But you’re not fine and wish you had someone to talk to about what’s going on? Did you walk away from a conversation having not voiced your opinion out of fear of conflict or judgment only to get home feeling uncomfortable and frustrated? I’ve been there, and it wasn’t until I learned about and started exploring Underlying Commitments that I began to recognise the roots of fear that kept me firmly planted in the past.
Where did they come from
For the most part, these were the first and strongest commitments that we experienced in early childhood. They were our coping mechanism for helping us to stay safe and to earn love and acceptance from those closest to us. For instance, some of my underlying commitments were staying quiet, remain invisible, and don’t call attention to myself to stay out of trouble. Another was masking my true feelings if they were anything but happy. If I showed anger, frustration, sadness (or even too much excitement), I was sent to my room and told not to come out until I could calm down. My parents often dismissed my feelings as silly or invalid. These situations taught me that to earn love, acceptance and approval; I had to stay out of the way, be quiet and keep my emotions in check.
We don’t know what we don’t know until we know
As it turns out, those underlying commitments we made in childhood remain a prevalent part of who we are and how we operate in the world today. You’ll recognise them in situations that feel frustrating to you. They’ll show up in instances where you’ve kept quiet, but preferred you hadn’t. They’ll show up as excuses or evidence that proves why you can’t or didn’t do what you wish you had. Until we recognize them, underlying commitments will continue to impede our ability to show up authentically.
As powerful manifestors, we can create change
So how do you do that?
1. You get honest with yourself and recognise when and where you’ve been betraying yourself. Keep a journal and jot down the times you’ve left a situation feeling frustrated – review with your Life/Recovery coach or an accountability partner.
2. Look for and expose those old, underlying commitments that have kept you from honouring yourself.
3. Dig deep to uncover how your actions served you and kept you safe. Look back at your childhood and recall the ways you altered your behaviour to earn the approval of others.
4. And finally, make a new commitment that supports who you are. Do your best to stay conscious of your decisions and patterns.
Taking action and changing our behaviours can be very uncomfortable. It’s important to be gentle with yourself while you navigate these new practices. Becoming aware of those things that have held you back is a HUGE step towards authentic expression. Make an effort to check in with yourself to ask if your actions are perpetuating the old, disempowering commitments – or are you cultivating and honouring the new commitments that will take you where you want to go?
Trust me when I say there’s nothing more liberating than permitting yourself to be who you are. And remember, lasting change when carefully examined, is often merely a series of small acts of courage.
What are some of your Underlying Commitments? Leave a comment below.