Why our actions fall short of our intentions


New Years Day is just around the corner and with it the wave of New Years Resolutions. The first of the year seems to do at least 2 things to us,

  1. Assess: Where was I this time last year? Am I better or worse?
  2. Plan: I WILL be “better” this time next year! So help me God.

How does the saying go? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Meaning, our intentions are worthless without the actions to back them. Saying something is not the same as doing something.

Another phrase: Actions speak louder than words. I, personally, love this phrase because it says volumes about communication. As we attempt to say so much with our words, they only have merit until our actions follow suit. This must be where the phrase, “easier said than done” came from. And it’s true. It is easy to say a lot of things. We can literally say anything with as much or as little intention to actually do that thing. It really is THAT easy.

For instance, “I want to eat healthier” is something I hear many people say, but I will then hear the same people, a week later, express their frustration with their “out of control” snacking or daily over-indulgences. Last week, a wife stated that while her husband tells her he loves her, she doesn’t see any evidence that would demonstrate that to her. I know also know teenager who wrestles with managing her anger appropriately and desperately longs to change her compulsions when she is angry. The Bible sums it up perfectly from Matthew 26:41 with, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Can you relate?

It is important to point out that there is a desire for change, a plan could even be in place, but something is still in the way. The aforementioned examples are a few samples I have come across during individual therapy, couples counseling and even working with children. The fact that these people are in therapy is example enough that they are doing something to change and achieve their goals. It is likely that they are in therapy because what they have done so far to generate change has not been successful.

In session, I approach every individual with the understanding that we are always communicating something. After working with children with autism and their families since 2006, I am trained to look at actions and interpret the purpose of those actions. You don’t have to be diagnosed with autism to be expressing yourself through your actions. We each do it every day with what we wear, who we spend our time with, what we spend our time doing …or not doing, for that matter. In order to help someone generate change I am looking for what their actions are “saying” and the purpose it serves them.

  • Could it be that food is a source of comfort to you and the “out of control” snacking is an attempt to keep the anxiety at bay?
  • If you aren’t showing up for your partner in the way that he or she is requesting, is it possible there is some unfinished, unexpressed issue there?
  • Are you angry when you feel left out, excluded or left behind and the only time you feel heard is when you raise your voice?

If we don’t discover how our current actions are serving us and find an alternative to meet that need, lasting change is going to be difficult, if not impossible. We can only will ourselves to change with strict discipline for so long until we return to our old beliefs and habits that came with them. Think about it. How many New Years resolutions have you maintained that didn’t require an entire lifestyle change? There must be a change from within, a change of heart, to create lasting change. It is from here that our words and actions can effortlessly align.

If you would like support in understanding and changing your addictions, compulsions or habits that are getting in the way of the life you desire, contact Ashlee Secord at Thrive Therapy today for a free phone consultation.