by Conscious Reminder
Recently I read this story based on the true experience of an advice columnist. This guy has to deal with a lot of problematic relationships and tells people what they need to hear, often things that they cannot easily accept.
There have been instances where he has asked his client to break up with the person they are dating, hoping they won’t literally say that to their partners. So one day he met a guy who told him that he caused their breakup.
At this point the columnist was pretty sure the guy would get violent but instead he thanked him. Turns out that the guy didn’t want to stay in the relationship but the girlfriend refused to leave, hence the guy was acting all weird so that she would break up with him.
We often make the mistake of taking people’s words more seriously than their actions. It is true that actions reveal priorities but words reveal only thoughts which may not ever materialize.
This is an actual phenomenon categorized as “revealed preference” by economists. The divide between the heart and the brain is precisely what causes the gulf between thought and actions, for you need to trust people’s behaviour instead of their sugar-coated words.
Let us take a simple example, how many times have you told your friends that you will start dieting from the next Monday or that you’ll go to the gym regularly? Instead, you’ve possibly eaten a pizza all by yourself or gorged on a chocolate cake on the said monday. Why is that? Because you said what you thought was the “right thing” but you never actually took it very seriously yourself!
Similarly, it is our natural impulse to trust what people have to say instead of analysing their actions. Of course there are times when the speaker says exactly what he means but then again, they can feel pressurised and end up saying something they don’t really mean.
When a person says he “wants you” in his life but takes no steps to “keep you”, or someone says “let’s meet this weekend” but then there’s no initiative when the time does come… it creates a lot of confusion. During these baffling times, always, and I repeat, always trust the actions.
Listen to what people say, see what they do, perceive if they are at odds and then come to a well thought conclusion. This way, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy and emotional labour.
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