Commitment: How Do We Know What to Commit To?

Commitment: How Do We Know What to Commit To?
Image by Mo Metalartist

Sometimes it seems that commitment is a four-letter word. It is a word that oftentimes brings up fear as well as insecurity and doubt.

What is the underlying fear to committing ourselves to an action, project, or relationship? Is it fear of the unknown? or is it knowing that everything is changing, thus the belief that we cannot honestly promise to do anything as we do not know what the tide will bring... Or is it that we commit to things we do not really care to do?

In metaphysics, we know that we create (attract) our reality. Thus, if we commit to something, and if that something is something we truly enjoy and wish to do, then it follows that we will create/attract that event or occurrence along with positive results. The important part is to commit only to those things that really appeal to us, or as someone once said to me, only to those things that sing to us. When we commit to a cause that means a lot to us, then our commitment will help carry us and the project forward with energy and vitality.

How Do We Know What to Commit To?

So how do you know what to commit to? It is important to clarify whether the motivation to do something comes from the heart or from the mind... is it a desire or is it an obligation?

When something resonates in your heart, when it sings to you, when it affects you deeply, then you know to commit wholeheartedly to it. It is important not to submit our time and energy to things that do not mean anything to us as those things drain our energy. If you are committing to something because it truly appeals to you, then it will bring you an abundance of pleasure and satisfaction.

Of course, there is sometimes the impediment of unconscious thoughts... It is possible that you may have a sub-conscious script that says, "I'm not good enough... Every time I try something, it fails..." (cancel) These sub-conscious programs have been implanted in our brain by teachers, friends, parents,  and by our very own selves. Can you remember "failing" at something, and hearing yourself say, "I knew that would happen. I always mess up!" (cancel) Another case of self-fulfilling prophecy!

Why Do We Fear Commitments?

So perhaps, that is an underlying reason why people fear commitments... they fear failure and disappointments. If I have no expectations, I have no disappointments... While that may be true, on the other hand, if you have no dreams, how can your dreams come true?

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We have to give ourselves permission to live our dreams fully... to really go out on a limb for the things that our heart truly believes and desires, and to follow the promptings of the heart. 

When we listen to that inner guidance, that inner wisdom, we need not fear commitments because we will commit only to those things that sing to us and that are an integral part of our dream of heaven on earth. 

Following the Path of the Heart

A favorite author of mine, Jack Kornfield, wrote a book entitled "A Path with Heart". That is what we must do: Listen carefully to the messages of our heart,  our soul, our inner wisdom, and follow the path of the heart. 

There is commitment to self, commitment to others, and commitment to a greater good. In these times, all three must be considered, as they are all inevitably entwined. You cannot commit to self, without committing to others and to the greater good, since we are all part and parcel of the one universe. We are all cells in the great body of this Universe.

Whether you see us as ants living in this cosmos, or as cells in the body of the Divine, or simply as actors playing out our chosen roles, we are still all connected. What you say and do affects the ones your words and actions touch, and then on to the next, and the next. Energy is never destroyed, it simply keeps on moving, keeps on being transformed into another perception, another form, another expression.

Bringing the Qualities of a Buddha to Life

Jack Kornfield, in A Path with Heart, speaks of committing to bringing the qualities of a Buddha into our life. 

"Can we bring the Buddha into the voting booth where we live; can we act as the Buddha, writing letters to our congressmen and congresswomen; can we share in feeding the hungry; can we walk like the Buddha to demonstrate for peace or justice or care for our environment? The greatest gift we can bring to the challenges of these areas is our wisdom and greatness of heart. Without it, we perpetuate the problems; with it, we can begin to transform the world... We can enter the realm of politics with the integrity of world citizens and the wisdom of a bodhissatva, a being committed to the awakening of all. We can bring our spiritual practice into the streets, into our communities, when we see each realm as a temple, as a place to discover that which is sacred. Suppose you considered your neighborhood to be your temple -- how would you treat your temple, and what would be your spiritual task there? Perhaps you would simply pick up litter when you saw it, or move rocks out of the road before anyone could strike them. Perhaps you would drive in a mindful sacred way, or drive less and use less gas. Perhaps you would greet neighbors with the hospitality that you greet your brothers and sisters within the temple. Perhaps you would organize care for the sick or hungry. "

Turn On Your Heart Light and Let It Shine

As a member of this planet we call earth, we have a commitment to make... Actually, we have many -- to self, to others, and to the greater good. Each of us has a role to play... each role is different. We are not here to emulate anyone else, only to discover our own truth within our heart.

To listen inside our soul to the words spoken, the guidance given, and feel what resonates as what we need to do -- this is our role, our piece of the puzzle... Everyone's commitment is necessary for the unfolding of the Divine Plan... We all have a role to play... Discover yours, and come and play...

Listen to your heart... or as our friend, E.T. said, "Turn on your heart light, let it shine wherever you go, let it make a happy glow for all the world to see. Turn on your heart-light..." and follow that light as it shines on your path.

Related Book:

A Path With Heart -- A Guide through the perils and promises of Spiritual Life
by Jack Kornfield.

Recommended book: A Path with Heart by Jack KornfieldPerhaps the most important book yet written on meditation, the process of inner transformation, and the integration of spiritual practice into our Western way of life, A Path With Heart brings alive the possibilities of inner peace, wholeness and the achievement of happiness. Written by a teacher, psychologist and meditation master of international renown, this is a warm, inspiring and, above all, practical book. Its gentle wisdom will guide you through the ups and downs of contemporary living, such as addiction, psychological and emotional healing, problems with relationships and the difficulties of achieving a balanced life of simplicity.

Info/Order book (newer edition/different cover). Also available as an Audiobook, and audio Cd, and a Kindle edition.

About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on

Video/Presentation: Turn On Your Heartlight (with Neil Diamond and scenes from E.T.)


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