Published in Womeninc, June/July 2007
by Diana Gabriel
In conversations I’ve been having, lately, the topic of congruency keeps popping up. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking with – friends, spiritual consultants or clients – there seems to be a common observation that many people do not “walk their talk”. More interestingly, these observations pertain to people who are actively working on self improvement – reading books, doing energy work, attending classes or bible study – who unconsciously slip into seeing themselves as superior. Consequently, they view others who are “less enlightened” as being less than themselves.
In this scenario, people’s words, attitudes, and actions do not match or align with who they see themselves to be. Judgment and intolerance of others appear in the name of righteousness. It would be easy to point fingers and say the people behaving this way are flawed, bad or hypocritical. But it can happen with any of us.
A few years ago, I was taking a long-distance class about self-deception, and was participating in a tele-class call (a conference call with all the other people in the class). I was asked to describe myself. I immediately said, “I am a kind, loving person.” Then I was asked if I was that way with everyone. Without thinking, I replied, “No. Only with those who deserve it.” I was instantly horrified by my response, and knew that in the blink of an eye I had exposed one of my self-deceptions to the entire class – and also to myself! I wasn’t consciously aware that I was judging people as deserving or not. From that moment, I became more intentional of being who I see myself to be with everyone I meet. I still fail at times, but my intention – every day – is to walk my talk and live in alignment with how I see myself.
As my story suggests, we can be keenly aware of incongruence in others, yet we are often blind to our own. There are times we view ourselves as superior, important, virtuous or correct, and in turn see others as inferior, incapable, irrelevant. We can believe that we have the answers to what is right and what is wrong. We know the “truth.” We become impatient, intolerant, disdainful or indifferent. We hoard our gifts and talents, living with a scarcity mindset, rather than sharing ourselves with others. Where does the love and compassion for others fit into that picture? How do we develop the courage and discipline to really and truly walk our talk?
A new client of mine has been a faithful reader of WomenInc and my column. She contacted me when she realized that from the outside her life looks great and has all the “right” pieces in place. But in her heart, she knew there was a disconnect between how she was living, what she felt called to do and what she believe was possible for her. It took a great deal of courage for her to own her reality, pick up the phone and admit to another human being that she was not living her life to the fullest and being congruent with her inner self.
One of the things that I know from coaching over the years is that most of us do not hold our own feet to the fire of living congruently or in alignment with what we are called to do. I invite you to make that change.
Observe yourself for a few weeks and just notice your thoughts, ideas, attitudes, behaviors and actions. How well do you walk your talk? Pause often and reflect on what it would take for you to live a life more congruent with who and what you say you are about. Judith Wright, in the book One Decision, provides a wonderful structure for living congruently, which might prove helpful during this time of reflection.
It takes a great deal of courage and discipline to live congruently. I would like to challenge you to narrow the gap of incongruence in your life, and really have your external behavior match up with how you see yourself to be in the world.