When our Actions Contradict our Words

By Courtney Stevenson

In getting acquainted with life in NYC, I have stumbled upon various paradoxes… it’s fast-paced, yet everything takes longer… you pay a high price for an apartment, but you’re never home. In rushing to wait in a ridiculously long line, I began contemplating contradictions within human nature. I’d venture to say that we regularly do not do what we want to do, or we do the very thing we don’t want. We want to start exercising and know the benefits, yet find ourselves hitting the snooze button morning after morning. We make plans to save money, but oh, new boots would be so nice. Or we pick the wrong partners to fall in love with time and time again. This is nothing new. This paradox was even written by Paul, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). Mark Twain wrote, “To promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing.”

So how do we change this repetitive cycle? Nike says, “Just do it!” And like most things, that’s easier said than done, which actually gets us right back to where we started… we say we are going to do things, but never actually do them. So, again, how do we get our actions to match our words?

As a therapist, I have found the following techniques to be helpful:

Cost/Benefit: Write a list of ways your unhealthy behavior costs you & a list of ways the healthy behavior will benefit you. Read the lists often to stay motivated.

Simplify: Set small, achievable goals. Set yourself up for success. Small changes can make a big difference.

Stop “should-ing”: Drop the “I should do this” “I shouldn’t do that.” Shoulds are negative words and are far from motivating. Turn it around! Instead of “I should lose weight” say, “I will eat healthy today.”

Time Management: Sometimes we fail to do because we fail to plan. Set a timeline to stay on track.

Support: Ask for help! Maybe a friend or family member to encourage you or perhaps a personal trainer or therapist

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