We have various means (or levels) of communicating messages to one another. Three that come to mind for the sake of writing this entry are: spoken word, action, and being. You’d be hard pressed to find an individual who never heard the infamous phrase, “Do as I say not as I do”.
I grew up hearing this phrase from adults who were trying to be wise and impart great wisdom on a meager child. Their question was often met with the inquiry and frustration of, “If it’s so great why aren’t you doing it”. “You’ll understand when you’re older”, could shut that question down.
But as an adult I still see this, “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality. I hear it from people who say they can give great advice but when it comes to taking it or getting their life together they keep falling short. If their advice is that great why don’t they take it themselves? Is it that our advice falls short and lacks something vital? Are we missing a key part in what is going on between the advice giving and the advice hearing on our own part?
I have spent some time thinking about this and don’t claim to have the answer but some possible things have come to the surface.
Why your words might be falling short?
Why is it that people can give great advice but not take their own “great” advice?
I believe what makes it so difficult to take our own advice is that we don’t really understand it in the first place. We know the words well. We might be able to say it in a very smart sounding way. But we are missing a vital element, the true meaning behind the message.
When our words are not rooted in personal understanding of the message they become very shallow. There is no depth to them. They have a surface quality and we, as well as others, pick up on that.
Take for example a parent who tells their child to say thank you but the parent rarely gives thanks. There is great importance in gratitude that this “thank-less” parent is over looking.
In gratitude we take a moment to see the good fortune that life is presenting us. Too often if we are not careful we overlook all that is abundant in our lives. We breeze past all the support life offers up to us time and time again.
When we take a slight pause to notice what we have been given the most amazing thing happens. We have the sensation of being filled with a certain lightness. Gratitude fills us with a very pleasant feeling (that is when we are truly grateful). Some would say we attract what we are grateful for, others would argue that it appears that we attract what we are grateful for because we are no longer overlooking it.
Gratitude brings with it presence. We can experience with it the present moment.
There is much more we can take way from being thankful but for the sake of being brief I’ll leave it at that. If the parent truly understood that value in giving thanks they to would be giving it. But the parent is not alone.
Think about your own relationship. Are you living with the “do what I say not as I do” philosophy? But keep in mind it may not be just as easy as changing your behavior. Changing your behavior would align you with what you preach but there may be one other element to make this a quality practice.
Why your “good” behavior may not be enough?
The words you use and the behavior you exhibit are never as important as their origin. Many people do things that appear very nice on the surface but in truth they are not motivated for the sake of being nice but rather for the sake of getting something in return.
All behavior is rooted in fear or love. Most people mistake fearful behavior that they offer in their relationship for love. One important thing to remember about love is that it needs nothing. Love is whole and complete on its own. Love does not need thanks, acceptance or to be noticed.
Often times we act thinking we are being loving but in truth we fear we lack something and think we need that something from our lover. Take for instance making dinner for our partner. This act of making dinner can be based in love or fear. Many times it’s based in fear.
If we need something in return from our partner for our effort we put into making dinner then we are doing it for the reaction. The something we are looking for may be as small as a “thank you”. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with our partner showing appreciation. However, when we do something with the idea that it will give us a certain response we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Where that act is rooted is very important. We have all been in a situation where we can tell that the other person is doing something to get something from us. Or other times have found ourselves getting unsolicited advice from someone who just wants to sound smart.
There is a big difference between getting advice from someone who wants to be a know-it-all and someone who is genuinely being kind; this difference is in where that message is coming from.
When the message we are communicating to a loved one is intended to be loving we let go of the outcome of that message. The person is allowed to answer in anyway they choose. We let go of our need to look like the smart one or the nice one or the right one.
Do your words, thoughts and actions line up when communicating?
Do you have an agenda when you communicate? (If you have an emotional reaction to the other’s response it a sign you had an agenda)
Are you involved in active listening? (This means trying to understand the others point of view without wanting to change it. Understanding it as they see it, with out needing to defend yourself)