I find the word “commitment” is laced with obligation.
“I can’t – I made a commitment to do something else.”
“I am committed, so there’s no going back now.”
“We are in a committed relationship.”
“I am commitment-phobic.”
“I don’t want to make a committment.”
“He committed a crime.”
And it’s no surprise. The root of the word in Latin, commitere, means “to give in charge” and has eventually evolved to mean “entrust (oneself) completely to;” and “put or bring into danger by an irrevocable preliminary act.”
I’m not saying commitments IMPLY obligation, but I am saying that when most people use the word, what I actually hear is “I don’t have a choice – I am burdened by this agreement I made.”
There is an inherent lack of sovereignty and an implied resignation in the modern use of the word. Like to commit means to give up our own internal sense of freedom.
And yet very little comes from things to which we DO NOT commit ourselves. The whole notion of “practice makes permanent” is not a coincidence, but rather, a fairly accurate conclusion of a moral AND scientific investigation on whether lasting change comes from anything other than full commitment (practice).
And in most cases, it doesn’t.
This is why some people expect transformation in a weekend workshop and what they end up with is a short-lived revival unless they commit to practice everything that opened for them, until it’s integrated (made into habit, aka: a new neural pathway in the brain).
What if you replaced the word “commitment” with “devotion” (to be self-dedicated to a cause or practice) – how would that change your relationship to your commitments (or lack thereof)?
When we think of our lives as a devotional practice, it becomes quite palpable to see what we are practicing with that devotion, whether it’s resignation, or true surrender.
In short, this is the difference between “I have to” and “I get to.”