In today’s political scene, it is a bit hard to keep up with who believes what, and who is living their beliefs. “Walking the talk” and “Doing what I do, not what I say” seem to have become trite phrases that are discounted. You don’t have to look far to see that much hypocrisy abounds. What is hypocrisy? According to Dictionary.com, it is “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense."

If you believe something—really truly believe it—how can you act in a manner that is contradictory to that belief system? If you believe animal abuse is wrong, but then you kick your dog, are you not a hypocrite? If you believe that children should be protected, but you don’t stand against a pedophile or a child abuser, are you not a hypocrite? If you say you love God, but don’t show kindness and compassion to His children, created in His image, are you not a hypocrite? It’s not enough to say something is important to you, or that it is right. You have to live it. Otherwise, nothing you say should be believed.

Unfortunately, most of the time when someone acts in a hypocritical way, they also have narcissist tendencies. A narcissist, simply put, is a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. Most importantly, narcissists are slow to believe they are “wrong” (if they ever do at all), don’t listen well to others’ opinions, and believe their way is the right one—the only way. If you put narcissism and hypocrisy together, you get a marriage made for one another. If you state certain beliefs and hold others accountable to them, but you don’t act in accordance with those beliefs yourself, you always have an out—you can just say the other person is wrong, and you are right—right? You don’t have to defend, you don’t have to bring alignment, you can simply point out another person’s flaws and thereby shut down the conversation entirely.

If you are a hypocrite, you might want to stop reading here. You likely won’t see it in yourself, nor will you want to do anything about it. It’s so much easier to talk a good game and then not follow through. However, if you are someone seeking authenticity and want to bring alignment to your beliefs and your actions, some of these ideas might work for you.

  1. Determine what’s most important to you. Not what your parents told you, not what your boss says is true, not what your friends care about, but rather, what matters to you. Make a list of three to five things you deeply, truly care about. Think carefully about this and make sure those things are meaningful.
  2. Examine where you are in alignment with what you care about and where you need to make modifications. If “kindness” is a key belief for you, and you think you should be kind wherever and whenever possible, watch the way you behave the next time someone cuts you off in traffic. Watch your language around those you live with, or spend time with most often. Watch your thoughts and reactions when you disagree or don’t like something. Don’t judge yourself, don’t berate yourself, just notice the misalignment and figure out what to do to bring your thoughts and actions more closely together.
  3. Refrain from telling others what to say, do and believe. The biggest hypocrites tend to be the ones who believe they know what’s right for others. Most people could stand to spend more time taking that log out of their own eye, rather than throwing stones at their neighbor (to mix metaphors and scripture!). The next time you catch yourself about to tell someone what is right or wrong for them, just stop. Let there be empty space. You don’t know everything; no one does. Turn inward the next time you want to speak outward and tell someone who they should be.
  4. Spend quiet time. Meditation is not for everyone, but in a world with a constant barrage of information, opportunities for reading nasty posts or posting them yourself, news reports that incite even the calmest among you, finding personal space can be very healing. Take a walk—without the cell phone or earbuds. Stand outdoors and listen to the air. Go into a quiet place in your home and simply sit. Find ways to give yourself space to just be.
  5. Do what you say, say what you will do. If you do something, own it and admit to it. Stop being someone who holds others to standards you don’t uphold. In fact, instead of talking, just do what’s right. People aren’t listening, anyway; they are watching your actions.
  6. Focus on you. It’s very freeing to stop trying to fix or change others and to focus on what you are doing. If you put your energy into watching your own actions and reactions, and carefully choosing the words you use, you will cease having interest in what others are doing. The hypocrites will run merrily on their way, but you won’t be hooked by them. 

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