Do your actions agree with your statements?
Working with a six-year-old boy to take a shower at night can be frustrating to say the least. At first you politely ask, “please go take a shower.” “Okay daddy.” After five minutes, you notice the shower is not flowing and go to take a look. The boy is playing with a puzzle so you ask again and get a response, “I am.” The times you’ve held him accountable and put him in the shower after not following your direction didn’t work out that well so you you decide to give him the benefit of the doubt and leave him be. A few minutes later you walk by and see him playing on an electronic device. Trying not to get upset you say, “If you don’t get in the shower, I will have to take your device away.” “Daddy, look at what I can do.” He comes up to showing you some artwork he drew on the device. Trying to be supportive you observe and talk briefly about how cool it is and remind him, “I’ve told you to take a shower nicely. Next time it wont be so nice.” “I am getting ready for the shower.” “No, you are not. You are playing.” Then a small argument breaks out. The wife steps in having heard most of this and immediately gets to the same point. We give him one last chance. Low and behold, his device was removed from his hands and he started yelling about how mean we are and that he doesn’t think we are his parents. This, of course reminds me of a few days earlier when I had to remind him “you are the child and I’m the parent.” He also complains that he is getting ready for the shower. In his mind he probably is.
This behavior is not limited to evening tubby time with a defiant six-year old. It happens at work and in our daily lives. As adults we simply hide behind our maturity, being smart, or in supervisory positions. People talk about considering the future and the long-term impacts, risks or benefits but the decisions made are grounded in shortsightedness. Actions taken from our decisions support the short term constraints of budget or schedule pressure at work and pleasure or pain avoidance in our personal spheres. We talk to others to get opinions and even say we are collaborating but wind up making decisions on what we think is “really” happening. The thing is what we think is “really” happening is all inside our heads. We are stuck in our fabricated universe within. Some of us think we are right and others of us assume we are wrong. Both are incorrect.
Without verification of the information available to us, we have no idea as to its validity. What we think about what we think becomes our “truth.” Over time, we get be wrapped up in our way of thinking to the point of passionately resisting ideas that threaten our self-made validity. Even though this validity is not grounded in independent verification from outside sources, we cling to it like a baby sucking on the teat. We do this to the point of causing pain to those we are sucking dry. If this goes on long enough, people leave us. If we are in positions of power, people stop sharing their ideas knowing they will be consumed and spit out if the taste of another idea is not what we fabricate in our minds. We create problems for ourselves and are not even aware of it. We think we are getting ready for the shower even though external feedback tells us we are not. So, how can we break the cycle of self-reinforcing delusions of grandeur?
It’s quite simple really. We have to question the validity of our thoughts and seek feedback on whether our thinking is congruent with what’s happening around us. We have to get over ourselves and realize we are not the center of the universe. This may be simple to say but to practice it requires constant vigilance and humility. Some of us are so deeply immersed in our made up universe it will take years to make small corrections in our behaviors and interactions with people. Even so, the smallest correction towards congruency with the unfolding situation around us will have profound benefits. The more congruence we can find by opening ourselves to questions of our integrity enables us to see opportunities for success where before we only saw what we fabricated in our minds.
So the next time your experience seems off or you witness something not aligned with your thinking, perhaps you should ask yourself, “Are my thoughts congruent with what’s happening?” Or ask, “Do my actions agree with what I tell people I do or will do?”
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