Lately, I have been working with several clients and relationship issues. One theme that has come up in the sessions is, Vows. All this time together, has really brought underlying issues to the surface in peoples lives. In it is a simple reminder for all of us.
When you said your vows; for marriage - traditional or self-written, or oath of office, you made a promise to another person(s). What you do not realize is that you also made a promise to yourself to uphold those vows personally. To fully honor your oath/vow, you must keep them personally before you can keep them for another.
When I became a Certified Hypnotherapist, I signed an oath to an organization that I would practice within my scope of training, follow the rules and bylaws they have in place, and as a representative of the organization, conduct myself in a professional manner. In exchange, the certifying organization has promised to certify me as a Hypnotherapist, provide for me further education/certification opportunities to expand my scope of practice, answer questions, and provide a place to belong.
Traditional marriage vows go as follows:
I, ________, take you, ________, to be my wife/husband. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance. This is my solemn vow.
As you and I both know, after the thrill and newness wears off, we often really do not remember what we said when we said our vows. We remember the motions, but now the words.
It was after the death of my first husband that the pastor pointed out to me, I lived all of my wedding vows during my short marriage of 1 ½ years. He re-read the vows my husband and I had promised to each other, then asked if I kept my side of the vows? This brought about the realization that I did not need to feel the regret any longer. My vows were, “till death do us part”. I had fulfilled my vows and my husband fulfilled his.
Take your high school graduation as an example; you were on the verge of adulthood, freedom and responsibility. You had a head full of high hopes and dreams. The ceremony probably seemed to take as long as the 12 years of education which made this occasion possible. You remember going through the motions, but not the words.
It is only later in life, career, or marriage that we are forced to pause and remember why we are in the position we area in. For the professional, it is called “burnout”, in a marriage it is called “affair” or “falling out of love”, in life it is called, “midlife crisis”.
At this point in every relationship, one must pause and rediscover their vows or oaths, which they made to another(s) and to themselves. Are you still upholding your side? Are you true to your words to yourself – “…from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish, till death do us part…This is my solemn vow” ?
If not; What changed? Who changed?
Why? Were you not prepared? Do you need help?
Do you still stand by and believe the words you said?
If not; Why? What changed? Who changed?
Everyday you have a choice. Everyday you choose by your; thoughts, words, and actions, to honor your vow/oath, or to dishonor your word and yourself.
In times of personal frustration, I look at the ring on my finger and remember the vows I said and how blessed I am to have this person in my life! (After being widowed, your perspective changes drastically! Most issues you have are not with the other person, but with yourself.)
In times of professional frustration, I look at the certificates on the wall in my office, and remember why I chose to earn them – all the time and money I chose to invest. Every day I chose to be true to the words I have spoken, not only to the organizations, but to myself. I also look at the pictures of my mentors, teachers, and colleagues. As part of organizations, I am representing these fine practitioners, because they are why the organization exists.
By taking a professional oath, I have to hold myself to higher standards, which challenges me to change and grow. By saying marriage vows to my husband, I am challenged to learn about myself and about all the facets of love, loss, riches, poverty, life and death; which reach far beyond material things.
I say all of this to let you know that it is okay to struggle. To struggle means you are engaged in life and all it has to offer. When you face an obstacle, it is there to help you grow. Consider these words by Victor Frankl:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
“Ever more, people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”
And from Milton Erickson:
“Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy.”
“Change will lead to insight more often than insight will lead to change.”
“It is really amazing what people can do. Only they don’t know what they can do.”
“A goal without a date is just a dream.”
My permissive suggestion is: When you find yourself at a crossroads in life, marriage, or career; the best thing you can often do is close your eyes, go inside, and remember why you chose to be there in the first place. Remember your vows/oath. Look up the words, look at the pictures, and really focus on the meaning of them. Then the choice is yours – stay or leave. No one can make that choice for you.
If you need to hear a direct suggestion: “Shut up, sit in that chair, and go into a deep trance.” (Milton Erickson) Review your vow/oath. Now the choice is yours – stay or leave. No one can make that choice for you.
Jessica L Hanson, CHt
Jessica L Hanson CHt. LLC