Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Did you ever hear that saying when you were kid? My parents might take home the trophy for this one. I grew up hearing, “Do as I say, not as I do,” so often that I started saying it back to my parents when I misbehaved. Not a smart move, but looking back it was a legitimate response.

Why is it that we expect others, especially our kids, to follow what we say regardless of our own actions? What happened to, “Lead by example,” “Actions speak louder than words,” and “Walk the talk”?

Take this website, for instance. Though I make an effort to display my imperfections to show how easy it is to make mistakes and get off track, yet pick yourself right back up, I sometimes have a “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude. When I am in a slump and neglect to care for my body, I will still sit at my laptop and write about how important it is to exercise even when you do not feel like it, eat vegetables when you crave brownies, and sip water or tea even though you really want a beer. Meanwhile, I am snacking on cookies and avoiding my workout.

It is way easier to give advice than it is to live out your own words of wisdom. This is because when we give advice, we gain personal satisfaction in knowing something that someone else might not know. The catch is, if we have such knowledge and do not act upon it, we end up looking incompetent and unreliable.

So what is the solution? Is it possible to completely rid ourselves of hypocrisy? Should we just stop giving advice? Or is this more evidence of how fallible we are and how it is okay to mess up because we always have the option of picking up the pieces and starting all over again?

I am thinking the latter, but we need to be better examples of what we say if we expect others to follow our lead. (Ahem, doctors who are overweight, smoke, and eat too much junk food.)

From an opportunistic point of view, when we realize we are spitting out words that contradict our current actions, we are able to reorient ourselves and evaluate what it truly important to us. However, this requires us to reflect on our words and how they match up to our daily actions. I know not everyone is into the self-reflection stuff, but it is key for lining up what you say with what you do.

I think we all need to own up to our words and start acting out what we preach.  If we all exercised what we fundamentally believe to be the most positive way to act, I have a feeling there would be a lot more happy people in this world; and healthy, too.

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