Post image for Commitment Series: Head and Heart

Commitment Series: Head and Heart

by Jo-Ann Downey

in Relationship Communication Skills

Have you ever been disappointed because someone broke a commitment to you? Have you ever broken a promise? How do you approach commitments? What do emotions have to do with commitments?

Who Commits?

In your personal life, a friend may want you to commit to a vacation or you may want to make a self-commitment to attend a weekly yoga class.  In your professional life, your manager may want you to commit to a new project or you may want to make a self-commitment to take a career development class. 

Who commits?  People make commitments and people are complex.   A person’s willingness and ability to commit includes, among many factors, their schedule, belief system, level of responsibility and maturity, perceived benefits and risks, experience, perceived probability of success or failure, and their level of trust.   

Commitment and Positive Emotions

People have capabilities and preferences concerning the physical, financial, social, mental, and emotional aspects of their life.  It is not enough that a person may be physically able to commit to doing something, they need to want to commit.  The presence of a positive emotional connection seems to be the glue that holds commitments together. Positive emotional commitment involves caring and intention versus negative emotions such as guilt, shame, control, or fear.  

For example, let’s say that you want your neighbor to walk your dog while you are on vacation. It is likely that your neighbor will wholeheartedly make and fulfill this commitment if they like your dog, have a dog, and/or if you have walked their dog in the past.  In this is the case, your neighbor (and you) have a positive emotional attachment to dogs and you also have a relationship of helping each other – a good basis for commitment.  In addition, the commitment you are seeking is reasonable – another key to successful commitments. 

Commitment- Feelings are Non-Negotiable

As shared in “Feelings are Non-Negotiable”, if someone is feeling a certain way, the feeling is real. You know the feeling is real because they are experiencing the feeling – it’s here! Feelings are not negotiable. You may genuinely want someone to feel a different way; however, it is selfish and illogical to try to change reality to match your preference.  If someone does not want to commit, don’t fool yourself into disappointment.  However, knowing that someone does not want to commit is an opportunity for open communication and compromise.

Commitment- Head and Heart

Genuine commitment includes the combination of thoughtful consideration (Head) and positive emotions (Heart). 

 “He who is most slow in making a promise is the most faithful in performance of it.”  Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

You may want to read “Intention Series: How to Create Powerful Intentions”, “There is No Such Thing as a Table for Two”, “Open-Ended Questions Build Relationships”, and “5 Tips on How to Listen Effectively”.  

photo credit: hein it 

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