“I am as I say, not as I do”

I am sure many have experienced this: you are in the presence of a greedy person, and they start talking about how selfless they are.  Then you start thinking: “Is this guy for real?”  That question comes out of frustration.  But there is a more important question: Is this person lying to others or lying to himself?  Some might answer: “Both!”  Here is why:

We convince ourselves of our piety by telling ourselves and others how “good” we are.  If people are as good as they say they are, then the world would have been a much better place.  However, even though almost all of us are able to choose to do the right thing, many times we do not.  Instead, we choose to convince ourselves that: “What I am doing is not really wrong, because I have an excuse.”

This contradiction between who we say we are and who we really are takes place in our interactions with our families, children, colleagues, subordinates and bosses.  We even feel insulted when anyone objects to our behavior; they should understand why we are doing what we are doing. Or at least this is what we try to convince ourselves with.

Many parents get amazed how their children pick up on some of their bad habits.  Sometimes we feel translucent to others, especially kids.  The truth is that people are actually able to detect hidden emotions and intentions.  They can feel how others are.  This is why some can tell when someone is lying to them or not, or if someone is friendly or not.  They “see” beyond what you say/.  They are affected by how you think, and what you think.  Many times, they can see much of who you really are, not how you pretend to be.  This is why they pick up on the “real you,” and if you are the role model to them, they are for sure to imitate some of your behavior.

Some might be troubled by this because they worry about people finding out who they truly are and their weaknesses.  I think this fear itself is indicative of a problem.  The problem is worrying too much about how people perceive them and how they are judged.  If one is at peace with self, then what others think is secondary.  The more one worries  about how people think the less self respect one has.  Let us take this test to prove it:  Think of something you do not want others to know about you.  Most likely it is something you do not appreciate in yourself and you do not accept.  Once their is acceptance, worrying about how others think and their judgment becomes less.

Seeing self clearly and observing behavior objectively is very hard to do, yet essential.  It is important to do that as a patient coach would  do, not as a criticizer.  As a criticizer, one might end up hurting self from negative feelings about self.  As a coach, one can be willing to judge the action, not self, and try to do better.

Prayer, contemplation, acceptance, and surrender all help being more true to self.  I do not believe it is about some people got it and others do not.  I believe this is a journey and sometimes we are on the right path and sometimes we wander.   Going back to the right path is a choice.  Of course the sooner you do your self checks the sooner you can catch yourself when off the path and more easily be able to take corrective action.  the less often you do the self checks the more prone one is to being more distant from where one knows he or she needs to be.  But their is always a choice to go back and do the right thing.  Even if one has strayed for long, many are amazed that they are closer than they thought they were.  It takes the right choice and the sincere will.  The rest is almost too easy.

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