Actions That Define You

It’s a foregone conclusion that telling someone they aren’t good enough is hurtful to them. It also goes without saying that when we damage someone else’s property, they’re hurt by what we do and are less likely to lend to us again. These are direct and explicit actions that signal who we are, and these actions have consequences.

We also show people our true colors in more subtle ways, for instance, when we break away from listening right in the middle of someone talking to us, looking around or over them at something or someone else. You’re saying without speaking: You aren’t as important to me as this other thing or person I’m distracted by.

We send a powerful message to ourselves and others when we refuse to stretch to get that thing, job, or person we want, signaling we’re not worthy of something we want. And when we gossip, lie, speak ill of others, or judge, we’re broadcasting we’re insecure, angry, or socially wounded.

Your actions need to align with the person you want to be if you want real relationships.

Do you recall as a youngster constantly being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”? Lots of us grew up to be one thing on the outside and another on the inside.

My experience.

On the outside I was an obedient, selfless kid who did what you wanted, without comment, answering “Yes, ma’am,” and “No, ma’am.” If you laughed when I was being cute, then I’d go out of my way to crack you up, even when I didn’t feel like it. If you ignored me, I acted out to get your attention, sometimes in funny ways and sometimes in embarrassing or rude ways.

On the inside I was quiet, wanting more alone time than I ever got. I didn’t want to entertain or befriend everyone. I wanted to read and spend time with my dog, Sparky. I felt uncomfortable being around others because of not feeling like I was good enough. Over the years I stuffed those inner feelings

I got really good at perfecting who I was on the outside, so much so that I lost touch with my inner feelings, values, and thoughts. Obviously, this messed me up. It’s taken me a lifetime to learn I’m more than what’s on the outside. And, hallelujah, I have identified what’s going on.

Take a look now.

There’s no time like the present to decide who you want to be. Lots of seniors feel they’re stuck in their old age:  “Oh, I’m too old to change.” This is such a fallacy! It’s never too late to change. Don’t sit around waiting for others to approve of who you want to be. You’re not forsaking your childhood if you make a change.

Starting with your actions is a great first step. Who are you if not your actions? The adage actions speak louder than words is true. It’s as simple as that. I’ve heard too many people my age complain they don’t have friends or that their family members seem to avoid them. These people are excellent victims who can’t understand the root of brush-offs. Could it be their actions – subtle and direct – are doing them wrong?

If you think this nonalignment is a younger person’s issue – that people our age don’t play these kinds of games — think again. One thing I’ve found among many elders is that they no longer see the value in self-reflection. There’s that “I’m too old to change,” mindset again, even if things aren’t going as well in their relationships as they might like.

Are your actions sending a different signal than what you intend?