Bring your vision, values, and goals in alignment

Empathy works. It always does.

Small commitments, big successes


My new year’s commitment for 2015 is simple: when I’m getting angry, I am gonna put my hand on the spot in my body, where the anger sits, and just breathe into it. Nothing more. Just connecting to my anger and bringing awareness to it, if even for just a split second.

Last year I made a much bigger commitment, and failed at it at least 150 times, if not more: “When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger.”

At the end of 2014, looking back at all those failures, I realized I was practicing at PhD level. My mindfulness practice is not strong enough to prevent myself from slashing out when I am angry. I nurtured the habit energy of anger for such a long time, that I probably can’t stop myself when anger overwhelms me. The habit energy of my anger is like a tank, firmly grounded in the solid course of its pain and hurt. It might take a while to steer it in another direction.

So I decided to set myself up for success and commit to a practice I most likely can keep, and trust that just a little nudge of the rutter will change the course of my tank in a more wholesome direction.

Small commitments, big successes

Image courtesy to

I accept I am a toddler, wobbling on the path of mindfulness and compassion. Sure, I mastered standing up. And sure, my goodness, am I excited to walk and get somewhere. And yet, I fall all the time. I am not ready to run with the elite. Let me first learn how to walk with a stroller. And then, maybe, without. And then maybe, go a little longer, Till I can run as fast and far as I want.

But now, start where I am. Right here. Right now.

Put my hand on my body where the painful feeling arises. Breathe into it. Embrace it with compassion and acceptance. Speak to it: “Hi precious anger, I now you’re there. I’m just as angry as you are. I’m just as scared and confused. I don’t know how to help you yet, but I’ll stay with you. I won’t leave you alone, I’ll hang in here and hold your hand.”

That’s my commitment for 2015. What’s yours?


Want help making a commitment that leads to big successes? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be honored to help.

Elly van Laar

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping mission-driven professionals bring their lives into balance. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I'm currently in an ICF-coaching certification program. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

4 thoughts on “Small commitments, big successes

  1. Hey Elly! Thanks for sharing your thoughtful commitments with us. I have committed myself to writing a daily entry in my gratitude journal and having an intentional mindfulness practice every day. I have had my own challenges with new years resolutions in the past and I hope that my narrow and focused commitments can help me reach some of my larger goals of living a more healthy, mindful, and sustainable life. I have learned that self-compassion and forgiveness are critical, as we can so easily get stuck in self-shame and guilty, which can be debilitating.

    With love and gratitude,

    • Dear Matt,

      Thank you for your response. I celebrate your small commitments, and your trust that honoring those, will help you create a life of health, mindfulness, and sustainability. I am excited to walk this path together! And yes, shame and guilt can be very debilitating. Acceptance and understanding often get us much further in our life. Hope to see you at Sangha this Sunday!

  2. dear miss elly. to begin with: glad you are back writing your blog. second: happy new year! third: my commitment is do each day some mindfulness reading OR do some physical exercize in sportcity. AND not to be disappointed during the days that i do not succeed. today is january 6th and so far it worked:) especially the reading part is easy to do:)

    i am curious to read about the commitments of all your other readers!

    this feels like an internet sangha!

    • Thanks, beloved sister Hanneke, for your comment. I enjoy reading with how much compassion and acceptance you are holding your commitments, so that when you don’t succeed, you don’t bang yourself on the head. I have always found my failures way easier to accept, when I see my sincere intentions and efforts. Nonviolent Communication helps me to understand and celebrate the precious needs I am trying to meet when doing something else than my commitments. Than we have more choice to support all needs, those we pursue in our commitments, and those we pursue in our slacking.
      Love you.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.