Thursday, September 4, 2008

Actions vs. Words

It has been said that actions speak louder than words. I think one of the first and greatest mindfucks we receive as children is the realization that the adults around us often say one thing and do another. The cognitive dissonance created by the "Do as I say, not as I do" modeling of our parents, authority figures and other mentors of our early life leaves patterning that is not easily undone.

I recall, as a child, being very aware of the gap between what I saw adults do and the words they spoke. It was confusing and frustrating. Inevitably, I learned the lesson well. I suspended my intuition about what I saw, instead choosing to believe words. And I would suspect that this is where my deep loathing for language arose. I could neither master how to hide behind my words, as the adults around me did, nor could I figure out how to speak my truth and match it with action.

Of late I have watched this pattern unfold around me, feeling its effects quite acutely. I sit back and watch adults, including myself, say one thing and do another. It is maddening. And I wonder what it takes to be honest with each other. Perhaps it first requires us to be honest with ourselves. We have become so used to using language to mask who we really are, hiding behind words as if our very lives depended on it, that we now believe our own rhetoric.

I believe it was Maya Angelou who said, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them." Yes, I'm learning this. Painfully, yet gratefully.

tall penguin


Umlud said...

"Actions speak louder than words." To that end, I've found that using a "translation filter" with different people works best. People bend and use the truth in different - but usually consistent - ways. So after getting to know someone, I apply a translation filter to how they react (say or do) to situations.

In the end, what I find more maddening is when someone does something completely out of character (or what I perceive to be), whether I agree or disagree with their reaction. There is a difference in my book between spontaneity and erratic/chaotic behavior.

However, I usually find truth in actions based in the context of the situation. The commitment to an action is usually closer to the truth of that person than a mere statement.

Of course, everything one writes (or comments upon) in a blog is but mere statements, the veracity of which is not up for close scrutiny, save for those close to the writer (who actually read what is written).

(I like what I wrote here, and I think that I'll put a version of it on my blog. Cheers for making one engage in lateral thought in the morning.)

Vanessa said...

Hi Anya!

Yes I can relate to this as a parent and as a child.

I see myself telling my kids not to do something, and see myself doing it. I am aware of it though, and with awareness, change can come.

Thank you for the reminder :)