There’s this fascinating thing that most of us do: we try to talk change into happening. We depend more on what people say than on what they do! It gets us in trouble! Also, I think it gets us in internal trouble too. We keep trying to fix or change things with words, instead of—and in place of—actions. Somehow we think if we just keep asking and talking about how we need or want things to be different, they will be different. Based on results, I’m not sure about that. In fact, I’m more and more convinced that it’s both frustrating and ineffective.
Actually I have found, over time, that the old adage “actions speak louder than words” is well worth heeding! Talking is a good thing in many ways. It truly helps us understand what is going on, and it supports our coming up with strategies and ideas. However, it doesn’t actually change things without corresponding action.
Let’s get real here. You know that you have told yourself over and over that something needed to change… and that it didn’t actually change until you behaved differently, right?
In addition much of this ‘talking’ thing is based in our hope that others will change if we just talk to them. If we just somehow explain how much they have hurt us, surely they will change! It’s a thing that in Coachland is often called “the dream underneath the complaint”. Surely the person you are talking to will see your pain, understand how important this is to you, and change? Kinda not. In all likelihood they are actually waiting for you to to change.
Yadda, yadda, yadda, on it goes, over and over.
There is a way out, though, radical as it may sound! It’s about you behaving differently, instead of talking more. It’s really kind of fascinating. It’s a system thing. As you change how you respond, and how you act, eventually the system changes too. What that means is that if you behave differently, people will treat you differently—eventually! Initially they will try to bring you back to the old dance. It is, after all, an ingrained habit. If, however, you persist in new ways of ‘being’ in the situation, others will either change with you or disengage entirely.
Meanwhile, you’ll be actually expressing who you are, and what you want, through your actions instead of having the same conversations over and over.
This reminds me of a friend I had long ago in South Carolina. She had this adorable yet mischievous little girl. The little girl had done something wrong, and her Mom told her that they were going to have to go in the other room and talk about it. The little girl’s pleading response was “Oh, no Mommy! Not the talk! Anything but the talk!” There’s more wisdom in the little girl’s response than is immediately apparent. “The talk” doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t give her new actions to try.
Personally I’ve been trying out this place of “being and doing” what I want to have happen, instead of talking about it in several places. I’m finding it does require patience and fortitude—and that it is quite effective.
As we approach a new year, we often set intentions or resolutions. How does this idea of less talking and more doing factor into what you want to change or improve?
Shell Tain, The Untangler
If you’d like some help in this dance of shifting from talking to doing, just give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.