My Thoughts On… Promises

Promises are something people take fairly lightly, but I don’t, and I’d like to explain why.


One thing that has bugged me for quite a long time was how liberally people would use the word “promise”. You’ll also hear it in almost every TV show or Movie. How many times have you heard the phrase “I’ll be back. I promise”.

I think I should preface this by talking about words, language and how we use them. Words have power. And we should be careful in deciding how we use that power. The problem is, if people use strong, expressive words often, others get desensitized to it. For example, the word “awesome” has lost it’s meaning. We live in an age of hyperbole. And sometimes, it’s not too much of a problem. However, other times, it can make a difference. Words matter.

I might do another post later on on hyperbole, but for now, I’d like to focus on the word “promise”. For a lot of people, the word “promise” has lost it’s meaning. To them, it’s something like “I’ll do my best”. But to me, it’s means something completely different.

To me, a promise is a guarantee that what you say you’re going to do, you will do. Or, what you say is going to happen will happen. Notice the emphasis on the word “will”. It is a guarantee of the future. You might ask “How can you guarantee the future?”, and this is where the difference lies.

Firstly, I very rarely promise anything. I just never use that word unless I mean it. Additionally, if I were to make a promise to someone, it would be a promise of an action I would take, not the outcome. A lot of the promises that you’ll see in TV shows and movies, I cringe at. “I promise I will come back”. How can you guarantee that? There are factors that lie outside your control, and to me, making a promise under those circumstances defeats the purpose entirely, because there is a chance you’d break that.

I might be over-analyzing it, but I think at some point, everyone needs to come to terms with how they use language. Words can hold a lot of meaning and a lot of power, and it is important to pick our words carefully. Diluting the meaning of words can cause a problem, because eventually, we’ll reach a point where we don’t have words to describe our true emotions. It’s the whole “crying wolf” story all over again.

So what do you think? Do you use the word “promise” often? In what context do you use it? What are your thoughts on my usage? Let me know in the comments!

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