Over Promise – Under Deliver

Over promise – under deliver.

I’ve heard it used to describe the scene of so many of our trust crimes. I’ve used it myself regarding maintenance workers, organizations, health care professionals and the esteemed spiritual teacher or three.

But this week in meditation, I heard it differently.

Over promise – under listen.

When I reflect back on the series of disappointments I’ve felt after an over promise, I realize that much of these situations could have been experienced differently, even avoided altogether, if I had tuned in and obliged my own innate intuition. I would have never made the agreement to begin with had I heeded the uncomfortableness when beginning the transaction. If I had acknowledged the red flag waving due to the way they spoke, if I had noticed my own repeated patterns of control, avoidance, or convenience surfacing, then I could have allowed the listening to lead me to transcending an aged pattern. I would have honored the signal reminding me I’d been here before.

I’ve had a long history of under listening. In times of stress, anxiety or sorrow, I have often defaulted to wanting someone else to be responsible for soothing the beasts of my fears. I’ve been the moth to many, many flames of promises wrapped in very attractive packages. When that ultimately sours, I’m left in the same parking lot of emotional collateral damage I’ve entered before.

Yet, aligning with the side of intuition can seem highly unpopular. It may appear to others as crazy, archaic, and harsh. It may inconvenience others and even ourselves because it would seem simpler and more efficient to agree with the ‘crowd’. The ‘crowd’ tells us to bank on potential. Yet continuously weening myself off of that shifts focus towards honoring someone’s efforts. I can revere them for their devotion to strategy and boots-to-the ground processing. I can better distinguish between growth mindset versus fixed mindset. Sacred listening equates to the powerful roar of our knowing.

What is most profound for me about this insight is a realization of how there is no over promise. There is only under listening. There is no good speak or bad speak. There is only speak and our inner tuning gets to choose what to listen to and absorb. There is no false prophet. There is only someone talking that I’ll choose to align with or not. There is no wicked witch or fairytale hero. There is only an opportunity to trust my heart over my head.

Choices become more refined, disappointments sharply lessen, when the relationship to listening becomes our highest non-negotiable.


– An obvious beginning is to carve out consistent time to do it. Treat it like an important appointment.

– Practice with a question such as “What would you have me know?” Notice the first thing that comes before all the censoring and rationale invade.

– Write down the first insight. Study it. Do you want to toss it out because it appears too simple, too complicated, too inconvenient? Does it require something of you that will dismantle a righteous justification? Chances are, that’s your heart calling and it’s offering good medicine.

– Does an after thought tell you you’re crazy and a push over for thinking such things? That’s your ego wanting you to secure your platform of rightness.

– Practice going with your heart no matter how scary or foolish it seems.

© David Ault