Can you make a promise to yourself? What would that look like? Would it be valid and binding? If not, how would we “prove” it? Perhaps in a similar manner as Karl Popper’s “falsification” approach — of being able to come up with conditions under which a theory or a posited application can be “falsified”?
Take the following hypothetical: A man sits in a cafe and is clearly upset; perhaps he makes unconscious heaving sounds, and tears stream down his face. A friend of his happens to visit the cafe, enters, sees his friend in distress and sits down at the same table, uninvited. “What’s the matter?” the friend asks out of concern. Hesitant but clearly wanting to share his feelings, the individual queried answers, “I broke a promise, and I feel really terrible about it.” Pausing — for, despite being his friend, this particular person has a reputation for exaggeration and overstatement — he forges onward bravely and asks him to “share” his story, believing that empathy is the better part of valor. “Well, I made a promise that… [and the reader can fill in the blank following the ellipses]. And I broke it.” The friend, concerned and puzzled, asks: “And who did you make the promise to?” The distraught Person A looks up, tears still streaming down his face and states calmly, “To myself, of course.”
Can such emotional turmoil remain commensurate with the fact of a broken promise made to one’s self? Can a unilateral promise be binding, or can it be broken with as much ease as the creation of it in the first place?
We all make promises to ourselves, and perhaps an argument can be made that the very essence of “character” and “integrity” is revealed in how scrupulously one abides by those promises made and kept by and to one’s self — even if others don’t know about it.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the promises made, thought of, kept or broken may make a long list in a cruel world of treachery and misstatements. Perhaps you made a promise to yourself that you would make the Federal Service into your lifelong career; or, perhaps it has to do with not wanting to “give up”. Whatever the promise, life intervenes and we all have to adapt to the changes of tumultuous circumstances.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS is never a broken promise, no matter the soliloquy spoken or thought left unspoken; rather, like the friend who comes into the cafe to give some comfort, it is a reminder that there are choices and options in life that may be a better fit than to remain miserable with a job that is no longer consistent with your medical conditions.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire