Honesty is crucial to a life of integrity. Without consistent adherence to truth, the structure and value of your thoughts and actions fall apart.

Yet the commitments we make to ourselves are often the first to fall away under pressure.

Somewhere along the way, we’d lost sight of this: When we don’t keep our word to ourselves, we live by lies.

Each of these lies, thought and acted out through a commitment failed and left unaddressed, gives birth to a demon who feeds on the shame and weakness built over time, finally rearing its many ugly heads in the moments when courage, excellence, and strength matter most.

Commitments made to self may not be sexy or epic–“I’d get up at 0600 tomorrow”, for example, may be rather mundane or even at a “baby level” for some.

But here’s why fulfilling them is of great importance.

Whether you keep these commitments or not, as well as the stories you tell yourself to justify or deny your fulfilment of them, make or break your inner being. They shape the character you claim as your own.

Over time, as you let slip a commitment here and there, the atrophy of the excellence, strength, and self-discipline you kid yourself you do have would become apparent, sometimes in a different area of life together. (After all, we’re never a different person at different things, but the same person with the same inner style of being in different experiences.)

An illustration:

This past summer, you’ve committed yourself to running 8 miles each day. For the first week, all goes well as planned; you remain consistent.

Then intrusive thoughts begin to creep into your mind starting in the middle of the second week, somewhere around the 7-mile mark. No one knows or cares whether you actually run the whole 8 miles today–why not take it easy? So you do 7.5 miles today, maybe a 7.3 tomorrow, a 7-mile run the day after. Some days you still make the whole 8-miles; but now you’ve already failed in fulfilling your own commitment, and didn’t do anything about it.

You think no one would ever know, that it’s not a big deal; but then comes that moment in your business presentation, or holiday music performance, or shooting competition in December when the pressure’s on and you need to draw from that well of integrity within you for the strength to continue on with excellence after something outside of your control goes wrong. But the well’s empty, or nearly so–it’s been ever so slowly leaking since you first skipped that first half-mile months ago.

Do everything within your power to keep the commitments you make to other people and to God, of course. But never back down on the commitments you make to yourself either. That’s how personal integrity comes apart.

Never let that inner well go empty. Seal the leaks. Fill it. Keep it overflowing.

And may the demons of the weak, false, scared stories we’ve told ourselves and lived out be vaporized by the blinding light of truth, drowned in the integrity of a life lived in harmony with beauty, strength and goodness.

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