I am a wedding celebrant so I have witnessed many couples make lovely and heartfelt vows during their wedding. Wedding vows are a wonderful way to pledge to your partner how you will be with them, what you will share with them and what you will commit to as part of your relationship. Most people are familiar with the concept of wedding vows. Vows, however, don’t have to be limited to between two people when they get married. A friend of mine has a lovely way of describing the commitments she makes to herself. She calls them vows to herself.
Vows to yourself are commitments to ongoing quality of life shifts that are not measurable. They are about the state of being you want for your life and are powerful if they are real and compelling to you. If you do not really believe in them they lose their power. Here are some examples: “I vow to love and celebrate my body,” “I vow to find joy and connection with myself,” “I vow to be open and honest with myself.” “I pledge to enjoy my life as it is now and not wait for some perfect future.” “I vow to let myself fully experience both highs and lows of emotion.”
What I really appreciate about commitments or vows to yourself is that they don’t have an end-state like goals. They are something that you embody every day of your life—or at least attempt to embody every day of your life. And just like making goals for yourself can be in all realms of your life, vows to yourself can also pertain to all areas of your life. Vows can apply to your health, your personal growth, your way of being with others including friends, family and partner, your pursuit of fun, your physical environments, your career, your relationship to money, your spirituality and anything else in your life that is important to you.
When you create vows that refer to someone else, the focus should be on how you are with the person, and not what you expect from them. In fact, the traditional wedding vow, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part” captures that concept well. It is about what you pledge you will do, regardless of the other person’s state or outside forces. Vows to yourself should also be forgiving whether you had a bad day or did something that you wish you hadn’t. When you vow to love yourself no matter what, you are setting yourself up to understand the gift of kindness that applies just as much to yourself as to others.
Making your vows to yourself is something that you can do at any point in the year. But you do have to find the time to step away from other activities so that you can concentrate on how you want to be in your life. If you are very busy and have difficulty slowing down, you might want to try a couple of different approaches before you sit down and think about your vows to yourself. One method that works well for me is to take time to be alone in nature. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just steal away some time to sit quietly outside somewhere or go for a walk. Wherever you are, just relax and slow down your thinking.
Another helpful way to calm and center the mind is to put on your favorite music and listen to it while not doing anything else at all. Listen to the lyrics, feel the rhythm and enjoy the music. Don’t answer emails or text someone at the same time. The music is the point so let it move you emotionally or physically. Or you could pick a physical activity that requires you to move but doesn’t require too much thinking. Maybe that’s yoga or dancing or jogging. Enjoy the movement and don’t overdo it so that you are too tired afterwards and are ready to get introspective.
After you have taken time out to quiet your mind and slow down from life, it’s time to think about your vows to yourself. Ask yourself, “What am I committed to in my life?” You can phrase your answers as, “I vow to…” or “I am committed to…” Here are some categories to consider.
♥ Personal Growth
♥ Fun and Recreation
♥ Physical Environment (Living and Working Spaces)
You might find, like I do, that your commitments to yourself don’t really vary much from year to year. Unlike goals that can change quite a bit every year, my vows to myself are all along the lines of self-love and self-kindness. Whether they have to do with relationships or health or my physical space, I vow to treat myself and others with care and love. And who can argue with more care and love in the world.