Something very interesting emerged for me over the course of our trek. Our porter, Bishnu (pictured), is a Nepalese man who is 50 years old and as strong as an ox. He carried our main bag, his bag and our fruit for the whole trek. His overall load was close to 60kg!! I consider myself quite fit and strong and I had times where I was wondering how I would take that next step up the mountain, and then I’d look at Bishnu strolling up, smiling and carrying 60kg as well……arrgghh…..amazing. Anyway, it quickly became apparent to Kate and I that Bishnu was a gentle giant. He was so strong (we felt totally protected by him….that absolute sense that if anything threatened us along the way he would keep us safe), and yet so gentle in manner and kind in nature. The fascinating thing was that Bishnu hardly spoke a word of English. He called me “Madam” or “Mum” and said “thank you”, and I think that’s the extent of his English vocabulary. Yet his actions transcended language. Kate and I knew this man was incredibly kind, thoughtful and caring……how did we know this when we never spoke a word to each other? By his actions. And that got me thinking about how much our actions tell who the real person is, not our words. Sure, words can support and even enhance an action – you could cook a meal for a sick neighbour and include a card with some encouraging words on it – but it’s the action that tells the story.
Back to the trek to expand on the whole actions-speak-louder-than-words thing. One day we were on a steep descent when I trod on loose stones, lost my footing, fell onto my butt and then proceeded to tumble down the hill for a bit (very embarrassing!). I was actually completely fine, except my pride, I think the tumble had looked worse than it was. Bishnu rushed over looking really concerned for me. I tried to show him that I was fine just a bit shaken. He motioned to me to take off my backpack. I thought he was suggesting I take a moment to recover, so I took it off and sat for a moment (while Kate tried to pull herself together from laughing at me….what are daughter’s for??!!). Bishnu then picked up my backpack and showed me that he will carry it now. Seriously?? My backpack was 10kg and he was already carrying 60kg. I really was fine and I felt uncomfortable about him taking more weight, especially as we were about to head uphill again. But with great human warmth and connectedness, he looked me in the eye and nodded, as if to say, I’m sorry you fell, please let me help you. Reluctantly I let him, more out of respect for how important this gesture seemed to him, than my real need to be free of my backpack. And there it is. No words shared yet an action that spoke so clearly about who this man is….how powerful.
Since returning to Australia I’ve worked harder on noticing where there is any incongruence between my words and actions. When there is, I try to unpack that a bit further to mindfully reflect on what causes that tension between my words and actions. Nearly always it’s some unhelpful, old negative belief about myself that is still lingering deep within me that sabotages the action. For example, recently I said I would spend the day writing a business proposal for a new workshop I’ve developed, yet I ‘accidently’ got too busy washing the clothes, food shopping, answering my emails, doing a workout…..and then the day was gone and I didn’t ever write my proposal. My words didn’t match my actions that day at all. Why? If I’m honest, my best guess is the fear of rejection of my proposal sat quietly beneath it, creating a raft of self-sabotage behaviours that meant I filled my day with busyness that ‘protected’ me from completing the proposal because if I had completed it, I would need to sell it. But believe me, each of those actions felt absolutely 100 percent necessary. I could justify every behaviour – I had to shop, we were out of food in the house, I had 43 unread emails that needed attending to, there was a pile of washing that needed doing….etc, etc….but none of that would really be the true reason I didn’t write my proposal. My fear altered my behaviour. My actions showed the real me, not my words. Just as Bishnu’s did when he took my backpack. What do your actions say about you? Where would you be in a year’s time if your actions modelled your words? What would things be like if you were free from negative beliefs?
If you want to explore more deeply what might be holding you back where your actions don’t match your words/hopes/desires, then you might consider booking a session with me……at least you’ll know I understand where you’re coming from….no judgement from me!