One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that some of the choices we make do not mean anything. We generally apply this mentality to what we consider to be the small things, the things that do not appear to have major or long-term repercussions. But the truth is that there are no consequence-free actions. Every single moment, every single decision we make matters because they all reflect what we believe, what we value—who we are.
Much more than frequent professions and affirmations, it is our behavior that demonstrates our true character. It tells people if we really do respect others or believe that honesty is the best policy. The values we actually hold are demonstrated every day in every action we take. And when our professed values do not match our behavior, inconsistencies become noticeable. These inconsistencies are the quickest way to discredit ourselves and there is no one more apt to notice them than our children.
Our children are the ones listening when we tell them to treat others with respect but talk disdainfully about those with whom we disagree or dislike. Our children are the ones who see when bend the rules to suit our own purposes but demand that others follow those same rules to the letter. Our children are the ones hearing the words and phrases we use while simultaneously criticizing others for their own speech. Our children are the ones that notice how we preach so much more than we practice. And our children are the ones that are most likely to follow our example—doing what they have watched us do, what we have taught them to do, rather than what we have told them.
The best way—the only way—to prevent that is to pursue consistency and integrity in a conscious and purposeful manner, remaining true to our professed principles even when they are inconvenient. Acknowledging our shortcomings, admitting our failings, allows us to prove that our ideals are more than just words. We have to remember that grand gestures and proclamations are not what shows our true nature. It is in the little moments, the things we think no one sees or cares about, that our hearts are revealed. We must remember that it is not enough to talk the talk, we must walk the walk.