here was an interesting response to my post on Monday regarding the problem with overcommitment. Many identified with being a overcommitter. The interesting response was the crowd that classified themselves as having a problem with commitment in general. This fear of commitment seemed to span the breadth of relationships, careers, and even hairstyles.
Ironically, I used to be overtly cautious and not commit until absolutely necessary. I would need to have all the information: all possible outcomes, all possible uncertainties. I would procrastinate. I would need to sleep on it, let it marinate, and think on it until I usually thought myself out of every opportunity.
I was afraid of the risks of commitment.
Any commitment is a risk. That’s a given. But something that I’ve learned, especially in the last few years, is sometimes waiting for a perfect opportunity may be a greater risk of what causes you to miss opportunity entirely.
Success, influence, greatness, accomplishment — they all have a cost — its name is commitment.
You can’t become successful without undertaking a cause. A relationship can’t go to the next level without making a choice to allow it. You can’t truly create something new without consistently picking creativity over stability.
Making a commitment sets you free. Free from waiting. Free from accusation of doing nothing.
So how do you know if you are commitment-phobic? Do any of these sounds familiar?
Symptom of Fear of Commitment: Self-Sabotage
A common characteristic of the commitment-phobe is ending of relationships with little or no warning. If there is a sign of an obstacle, excuses are usually made to put an end to the relationship, project, or undertaking before they are allowed to succeed or fail on their own.
Ending a relationship before deeper connection is made because of fear it will end tragically is self-sabotage. Quitting a team or project because of having to adjust to accommodate differing opinions is self-sabotage. Giving up on a dream or goal because of hardship is self-sabotage.
Stop sabotaging yourself and start living.
Symptom of Fear of Commitment: Lone Wolf
Do you prefer not having an obligation to “check-in” with a group or individual? Does the thought of being reliant on someone other than yourself make your blood run cold? This is an indicator of fear of commitment and the preference of being a lone wolf.
We were made to be in community. We were made to love and be loved by others. We are not better off alone. No one is better off as a lone wolf.
Symptom of Fear of Commitment: Escape Route
There is nothing wrong with wanting to escape from a relationship or situation that is suffocating. It is important to figure out whether there is just cause for an escape route or if the desire to run is because of commitment-phobia. Using an escape route to avoid making good on promises is not a healthy practice toward commitment.
Do your everyday activities show a pattern that gives the appearance of difficulty of sticking to one thing? Is there an old violin, tennis racket, stamp collection, crochet needles and a half-knitted scarf, etc…all sitting in a closet gathering dust from new and exciting endeavors that never made it beyond a few weeks?
While we all can go through seasons of changing tastes, patterns of escape can emerge from a list of abandoned hobbies.
I know a lot of “commitment-phobes.” Most of them seem to be from my generation; those at the end of Gen X and beginning of Millennials. After watching my peers for awhile I realized that the fear of commitment itself is was what makes it so great to them.
Whether commitment to a relationship or a career; the fear of the commitment of being pigeon-holed is what stops them from making a quick decision. When we work past commitment-phobia and do something, we find a subtle, yet deeper satisfaction. This satisfaction gives us a more abundant life.
Sometimes responsibilities in life take more than a season. Certain assignments take time and diligence. They require patience, persistence, and perseverance before you see a harvest.
Eventually we each will encounter a situation that requires something more of us. We will want to minimize our potential losses and hold back. We will try to remain safe and secure risking nothing — but what we seemingly gain is more often a loss in the long run.
Commit or Die
It’s far too easy to shy away from real opportunities to grow in courage and experience. There will be many opportunities and situations where each of us feels uncomfortable and hesitant.
Don’t be afraid.
Recognize that fear is a liar who wants to prevent you from gaining any true satisfaction in life. Fear wants to keep you paralyzed so you have no effect. Fear is in fact afraid of you and the power you have been given by God. Fear seeks to only destroy.
My dear non-committers, something or someone is holding you back from committing; don’t let it. Instead of waiting for more information that won’t come; make a decision. Instead of procrastinating one more day; start now. Don’t sleep on it. Don’t use the excuse of praying about a situation to bide you more time — If you know what you want, GO FOR IT! These are all indistinct forms of distractions with the purpose of deception.
Embrace the challenge before you. Make the choice today. Commit and do that thing you have been day dreaming about.
True life and freedom is evidenced in our choices we make everyday. Are we truly living or are we dying a slow, painful, death of non-commitment?
Questions to Ask Yourself
Am I an overcommitter or a commitment-phobE? Are either of these characteristics holding me back from achieving a dream or goal? How?
Is there a situation or relationship that I have recently self-sabotaged or tried to escape? What was I feeling that influenced my desire to escape or sabotage the relationship or situation?
Do I have community surrounding me to discourage me from being a lone wolf?
When I take stock of my life am I truly living a life of abundance in freedom or am I dying a slow and painful death of non-commitment?