Promises, promises…

second chance quotes“But they broke their promise.”

Words muttered at me by a friend. 

We all make promises. Give our word. State categorically that this will happen without fail.

We make promises with the best of intentions, on behalf of future selves that we believe will fulfill them.

And sometimes we break our promises.

Whether we deem a broken promise as something that is forgivable or as re-affirmation that nobody can ever be trusted will be determined by our past. In the moment many of us pay no heed to the minutiae of a specific situation, we simply apply hard and fast rules to the world, everyone around us, and how we believe people should behave.  One size doesn’t always fit all.

“How could they do that to me?”

Anyone who thinks that keeping a promise is simply doing what you said you would and nothing more is confusing it with a contract. The bare fact is that people often make unrealistic promises, based on wishful thinking, rather than carefully thinking a scenario through. Or they act impulsively.  Should they really be castigated for all time?

“How can I forgive them?”

Dealing with a broken promise, like most things in life, requires flexibility. We should think of promises not so much as binding contracts, but as acts of commitment and trust. When we promise to love, honour and obey, till death us do part etc. etc., we aren’t focused on the small print of the Marriage Act of 1949, but on communicating our intent to our loved one to do all we can to ensure that what we promise will come to pass.

Pragmatically, a promise shouldn’t be made unless there’s good reason to think it will be possible to keep it. But we are all human and therefore we are all fallible, so if with hindsight it becomes apparent that a promise couldn’t have been kept, then maybe we should accept that it doesn’t have to be forgiven?

We all deserve a second chance.

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