We all know that actions speak louder than words and most New Year’s resolutions are forgotten by February. I make promises to myself and others, and I am ashamed that I have a trail of broken promises behind me: “I will never have another cigarette.” or “”I promise not to tell.” I meant them when I said them. When I don’t act with integrity, guilt and shame are my emotional costs. We all want to believe that we are people of integrity even though we may not always act with integrity.
“Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is.” Money is one of my most precious resources. Recently Colorado Public Radio had their fund drive, and even though I listen to them a lot and “thought” it would be a good idea to contribute, I didn’t put my money where my mouth is and actually contribute. It’s easy to talk about saving money and budgeting, but I often just give it lip service instead of really saving money. I can talk, and talk …and never get around to “Just do it!”
12 step programs and fellowships are full of wonderful axioms regarding actions and words. You can “talk the talk” or you can “walk the talk”; basically are you doing the work of the 12 steps or just talking about it. Question: How do you know when an alcoholic is lying?” Answer: If their lips are moving, they are lying. Matching words and actions is difficult and not only for the alcoholic. What parent hasn’t wanted to say to their child “Do what I say, and not what I do!” Kids are great bullshit detectors. I cringe to think of what kind of example I was to my son Tyler in my crazy moments. Fortunately, he turned out pretty good in spite of me.
When I find myself trying to rationalize my choices or behaviors I know I am on a slippery slope and may slide right past my self respect. Freud was on target when he defined the ways we humans attempt to evade responsibility for our choices and behaviors. We blame, deny, project and rationalize and then double down on our excuses. The longer my excuses the more likely I am fibbing, stretching the truth or just plain lying.
Saying just one word can be the closest we come to saying what we mean and meaning what we say. “Help” is very direct and transparent. “No” really is a complete sentence and doesn’t need further explanation. Sometimes our “yes” is compromised, it’s more I am afraid to say no or I want to manipulate your opinion of me. The most honest yes is the “Yes” punctuated by arms raised in the air in victory. Yes!
In the meantime I will be learning to do the right thing so I can love the face I see in the mirror.