Of Dangling Carrots and Discernment

“Be Impeccable with Your Word:

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”

–The 1st of 4 “agreements” from Don Miguel Ruiz in his book, The Four Agreements.

We all know people who have “dangled carrots” in front of us, promising to be or do something that they consistently fail to follow through upon.

At first it may seem enticing to think another may care for us in such a way that he or she wants to go that extra mile on our behalf—by suggesting they will do generous helpful tasks or provide for us in other significant ways.

Then, they sabotage our feelings of good will and trust towards them by repeatedly not delivering on what they said they would do. Initially, feeling bewildered and hanging when others’ actions do not support their words, we are not sure whether we truly heard the other correctly or expected too much.

These doubting feelings that erupt from such inconsistency can throw us off-center, further diminishing our sense of value if we continue to tolerate this behavior.

After much discernment, I have learned a three-strike rule: the third time others do not follow through on something they said they would do, they are out. The first slip-up could be a common error we all have experienced like forgetting or becoming overwhelmingly busy. The second time could be the necessity to attend to a very crucial matter, like a deadline or an emergency. The third incidence no longer feels like an excuse, but rather becomes symbolic of an untrustworthy behavior pattern that shows neglect for another’s feelings.

In more naïve days, I thought trust was mostly about fidelity, and remaining faithful and loyal to those we love. Now, I see that the trust that shows character and offers the maturity and depth of wholehearted love also involves consistency. Those who care for us by putting our best interests at heart, along with their own, follow through and willingly honor being there for us as agreed.

To be there for ourselves in the same loving ways, we must refuse to cling to any alluring words not backed up by concrete evidence of follow-through and support.

By choosing instead to be impeccable to our own words and affirmations of self-love, we disallow ourselves to be strung along by another.

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BELIEF TIP OF THE WEEK for Discerning Trust:

Write out the statement below long-hand a few times each day. Then, repeat out loud as frequently as you desire, but especially in the morning and at night when in restful states:

I allow myself to choose to associate with trustworthy people whose words are consistently supported by their actions.

Beth Shedd’s alluring photo ironically reminds us to reject those dangling carrots.


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  • Taylor says:

    Wow, what a powerful post. I have often forgiven those around me who fail to live up to promises, thinking that the follow through is missing because of a disorganized nature or scattered personality. The three-strike rule takes a strong stance. What I wonder is … so do I simply cast aside these people, who may have been in my life for decades, when they strike out yet again, or do I simply accept them for what they are, selfish yet also part of my history?

    • Gail says:


      You pose a great question. It is easier applying “the three-strike rule” to those just entering our lives, to evaluate if they have the character to be part of our inner circle of love and support. With ongoing relationships, I believe it comes back to ourselves. We need to consistently love and respect ourselves–and our boundaries. Choosing to be with people who respect our time and our feelings is an act of self-love.

  • Mia says:

    You really got me thinking.

  • Cynthia says:

    What a wonderful reminder, Gail. It has been a long time since I read The Four Agreements. I will take it down from my bookshelf. We are all guilty of this – not following through on our words. Important to become more conscious about the power of consistency – our thinking, saying, doing should all be congruent. I will think on this.

    • Gail says:


      And thank you for reminding us that we all slip up on our follow through now and then…it’s when it becomes a pattern, where someone continually disappoints others by not delivering on their promises that we must pay attention and decide if this type of behavior is tolerable.

  • Deb says:

    Such a necessary insight expressed from a different perspective. Almost if we had talked about it. I am diligent to see the best in those around me that disappointments cut hard when they manifest themselves on that third occasion. I can only learn from that experience and look to a higher standard to honor within myself. Thank you Gail for expressing your thoughts and softening the blow.

    • Gail says:


      That “third strike” does often feel like a blow to those of us who by our nurturing and caring natures look for and see the best in others. Increasingly, though, I have observed that as we raise the bar for ourselves in what we will and will not tolerate we have fewer encounters with those who do not come through for us as promised. At the same time, practicing forgiveness for both ourselves and those who have hurt us with their insensitivities– or lack of awareness for the ways their behaviors impact others– is part of the journey as well. Letting go, and blessing people as we do, is part of love, too.

  • Jay says:

    Thanks for the tips. This was a great post and I enjoyed the comments. Looking forward to your seminar on Thursday.

    • Gail says:

      Thanks, Jay. I am glad you found my recent blog post helpful. And I can’t wait to share more via my seminar Thursday. It’s amazing what life shifts we experience when we uncover our underlying limiting beliefs.

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