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Writing blank checks: a toxic habit

Do you write blank checks?


We all know the idea behind writing a blank check. We just sign our name and somebody else fills in the amount that we have just obligated ourselves to pay. Most of us recognize how foolish it is to write blank checks, at least on our bank account.


If we were in the habit of writing blank checks against our bank account, then either we would have to renege on our blank check agreements or, with resignation and regret, we would have to pay dearly for our foolish promises.


Yet, many us of think nothing of writing blank checks by the words we speak

Consider how often you might be writing or speaking blank checks in other areas of your life, creating, in the process, upsets and breakdowns and imbalances, both for yourself and for others.


How often do you say, either explicitly or implicitly,


  • “Somehow, someway I’ll handle that later,” or

  • “I’ll spend however long it takes to get this task finished today,” or

  • “I’ll agree to whatever request or expectation my boss, mother, spouse, lover, or friend make of me”?

A blank check that can break the bank

Or consider one the biggest blank checks of our life, the one that most of us speak when we get married, mistakenly thinking it is good or necessary for our spouse or our marriage,

“I’ll do whatever it takes to make our marriage work,” or

“I’ll do whatever it takes to make you happy and give you what you want,” or

"We'll be together for life, I promise"


neither specifying any minimum criteria for maintaining our promise nor under what conditions we would quit the marriage.


Wanting to ignore reality and our limitations

Can you see how each one of these is a blank check, obligating you, very often, to an undetermined and indefinite amount of your time and resources?


These are the types of promises, these are the types of commitments that can bankrupt day-to-day life, both for ourselves and even others, if they are careless enough to rely on them.


Identify the last time you spoke or thought a blank check to yourself or to another? What were the results?


Wanting to feel safer and make others happy or feel safer

Our motivation for speaking blank checks is most often to try to feel safer, to try to control and guarantee things, or to look better in the moment.

Choosing courage

It can be the choice of courage to say,


  • “I will not promise when or if it will be done,” or

  • “I will spend 15 minutes at 4 pm tomorrow toward completing this,” or

  • “I will spend two hours per day until the job is complete,” or

  • “I will consider separately each request or expectation from my boss, father, spouse, lover, or friend,” or

  • “I will stay married to you as long as we feel special and loving toward each other or if we don't, I have good reason to believe that we can regain those feelings within the foreseeable future.”


Learning to hold your tongue

What blank checks have you already spoken, or implied, that you need to modify or cancel?


For the future, are you willing to choose courage to not write or speak blank checks?


This is an important step in creating and maintaining Now-Next Integrity as well as Oneself-Others Integrity.

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