Words and Actions

Posted on May 18, 2012


One of the things I learned early in recovery is the importance of my words matching my actions.  I never knew about words and actions, I never knew that my words and actions didn’t match, and I didn’t know how to change it.

I was having dinner with a new friend the other day and in conversation he mentioned dissonance.  I understand the meaning of the word, I understood the context he was using it in, but I wanted to look up the exact definition.  Here it is:

A tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.

Each person who reads this may have a very different perspective on what it means to you specifically, but I immediately thought about the clash of words and actions, and how disharmonious life can be when these two things aren’t the same.

It’s like, I can’t tell you I am an honest person, then turn around and tell a lie to get out of an obligation.  I can’t say I am a really hard-worker, then behave like a slacker.  Tell you I love you, then disrespect you.  Tell you how important it is to read the Big Book, then not read it myself.  If you and I have a meeting, and I tell you it is really important to me, I won’t show up ten minutes late.  The words say one thing, but the actions say something entirely different.

Since I learned about words and actions I have paid very close attention, and I try to make mine say the same thing.  I have come to believe that this is a very important element, and it is a great responsibility in life.  The problem is, if my messages are mixed, then every person in every situation in my life will react mixed.  It is like one gigantic miscommunication.

So, for me, I think about those qualities that I want to possess.  I think about the quality of person I want to be, the kind of woman I want to be, and I think about those individual attributes.  Once I understand the properties that are important to me then I have a better idea how to match my actions, and I have a better opportunity of being the person I desire.

I want to be patient, so I try not to react to things abruptly, certainly if the reaction is negative.  I want to be kind, so I don’t gossip or criticize.  I want to be smart, so I study hard and read a lot.  I want to be respected, so I work hard, I work well, and I hold myself to a superior standard.  I want to be dependable, so I show up when I say I will, I call when I say I am going to, and the things that are important to the people I love are important to me.  I want to be fun, so I make an effort to smile and enjoy myself no matter what.  I want to be grateful, so I try to focus on the good, rather than the negative.  These are just a few examples but I think you get the point.

It is easy for me to lose sight of these things that are important to me, especially when I get consumed with fear.  And I need this reminder, these words I get to write, to remind myself of what is important to me.  I will never be perfect, I will never do all of these things exactly right every day.

But as we say, it’s progress, not perfection.  

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