Actions Speak Louder Than Words: How to Keep Them in Line

Have you ever met someone who says one thing but does the complete opposite? Most people find it infuriating. What many people fail to realize however is that to some extent, they’re probably guilty of it themselves. As I’ve written here and on my site, this used to be a problem for me and it’s one of the reasons that I ended up in prison.


Keeping our words and actions in alignment isn’t always easy. There’s a big difference between believing something enough to say it, and believing something enough to sacrifice for it.


And it follows that many of us contradict ourselves without even knowing it, let alone, intending it. Unfortunately however, regardless of our intentions, these contradictions can prove surprisingly problematic.


At best, we appear fake or dishonest. At worst, we end up living a life that goes against our core beliefs. I think that Buddha said it best:


“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”


The importance of keeping our actions and our words congruent is obvious. Achieving this task however, that’s a little more complicated. Here are four ways to keep your actions in line with your words.


Look for Contradictions


The first step towards being more congruent is to identify the areas of your life in which you are being anything but.


Perhaps you claim to put family before work but your schedule says otherwise. Or maybe you think you believe in giving but have yet to make a single charitable donation.


These are just examples obviously, but they should illustrate the kind of things to look for.


Choose a Side


Once you’ve made a list of contradictions, it’s time to choose a side. What better reflects your core beliefs, your words or your actions?


Don’t automatically assume that you need to change your behaviour. Just because you keep saying something, that doesn’t automatically mean that you believe it. Sometimes we lie to ourselves.


And if you want congruency to actually improve your life, you need to be honest with yourself. Base your choices on what you truly believe, not what you think you should believe.


Change the Other Side


If you find that your words are wrong, the solution is pretty simple; stop saying them. Obviously if you’ve been particularly vocal about the subject, this might prove a little more complicated than that.


If you find that your actions are wrong, the solution is probably going to be a lot more challenging. Using the same examples as earlier, perhaps you’ll need to change your work schedule to better reflect your priorities in life.


Or perhaps, it’s time to start backing up those charitable words with financial sacrifices. Either way, living up to what you say isn’t easy. And depending on your current circumstances, it might mean making major changes.


Watch What You Say and Do


Finally, as I mentioned earlier, most people don’t contradict themselves on purpose. Our subconscious minds are surprisingly powerful. And it’s surprisingly easy for contradictions to creep past us.


It follows that keeping your words and actions aligned isn’t something that can be done all at once. It requires regular introspection.


In other words, watch what you say. And when you do say something, watch what you do. The reward is a much more genuine persona. And more importantly, it’s a life that’s guaranteed to better match your core beliefs.

Hilary Neiman


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