Photo: George Burns
Keeping my word is a mandate I live by. I can't tell you the number of times I've committed to doing something, then later wanted to get out of it but ended up doing it anyway because, for me, backing out is never an option. If I agree to do something, the only way I'm not going to do it is if I'm too sick to move.
That's what happened two years ago when I said yes to attending the tenth anniversary celebration of The Vagina Monologues; when the time came, I was so sick it hurt to turn over in bed, and on the advice of two doctors I reluctantly stayed home. Oh, how it pained me to make that phone call to Eve Ensler, the Monologues' brilliant creator, to say I wouldn't be able to keep my word! I pride myself on being a person you can count on.
And yet at least a hundred times last year I made a vow to myself about working out , meditating, getting more rest, managing my schedule better, and opening my heart to the kind of joy we saluted two months ago on the December cover . And each and every time, I fell short.
The reason I so rarely break promises to other people? It breaks trust. Without trust there's no relationship.
The same is true for our relationships with ourselves. Break enough promises to yourself, and soon you no longer believe your own voice when it says, "I'm going to work out an hour every day and never eat unhealthy food again."
So I've stopped with the all-or-nothing promises to myself. And I'm getting better, each day, at doing something good for my body, mind, and spirit.
For too long, I've allowed myself to manifest stress, exhaustion, disappointment, and anxiety as weight. We all wear our pain differently. I know this for sure.
I consider it a step in the right direction that I'm getting better at dealing with my real issues and not allowing them to embed in the flesh. These days, when I face a challenging situation, I take the time to feel it—really feel it—rather than try to immediately numb or avoid the feeling with food.
I still don't like exercise. So I've stopped calling it exercise. I now look at it as honoring the body— which carries life, and is life itself.
I'm getting better at saying no, even to things that matter. Because regardless of how much something matters, I just don't have the time to do everything. In the past, as long as there was a moment free on my calendar, I'd try to fit in the extra request. Now I'm more careful before committing.
Making a priority of taking care of myself is—for sure—going to make for a better me.
I suspect the same is true for you. And that's the sweetest valentine I can offer.
Learn to say no—the right way
From the February 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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