I don’t always practice what I preach. Although I don’t speak for the masses, I know that many of us have core values and fundamentals that we follow—or simply say we do. The ideals that we speak about or even keep to ourselves make us think we are “be-all end-all” individuals.
Whether it’s donating time to help those in need, advocating for different demographics of people, or simply getting in all servings of fruits and vegetables for the day, everyone has ideals that constitute the “ideal self”—defined as “an idealized version of yourself created out of what you have learned from your life experiences, the demands of society and what you admire in your role models.”
Some of the things that constitute our ideal self, however, don’t constitute our real self: who we actually are. Our real self therefore creates unintentional hypocrisy, where our actions don’t speak louder than our words, or our basic morals.
I don’t believe all hypocrisy is bad. I would love to say that no one should be a hypocrite, but that would make me even more of one.
A study from Yale University states that “‘honest’ hypocrites—who avoid false signaling by admitting to committing the condemned transgression—are not perceived negatively even though their actions contradict their stated values.” In short, people like myself who admit they are hypocrites suffer from less scrutiny.
Without realizing my inconsistencies, I will never have the opportunity to redeem myself from my mistakes. I start by doing completely wrong actions, then I change my ideology but continue to do the wrong action, and then I eventually do the right thing after understanding my mistakes.
For example, coming to an environmentally-conscious school has really opened my eyes. I went from taking 30 minute showers at home, to taking 30 minute showers in my L.E.E.D-certified dorm room while feeling guilty, to cutting the minutes I shower by more than half.
We may be hypocrites now, but as our values strengthen, we begin to carry out the self-fulfilling prophecy—when our own expectations influence our behavior. If we say we will fail, we will fail. If we say we will succeed, we might, because we have not set ourselves up to fail.
If we say actions speak louder than words, we are undermining the importance of words. What we convey to the public may not be what we do in private; but, its conveying the message that gets across to the masses.
Sometimes it really is the thought that counts. Eventually, by standing up for what we believe in, we become more apt to changing our real selves into our ideal selves.
It’s worse to be hypocritical and pretend we are not, than to accept the fact that we are all hypocrites. By opening our eyes to how fickle we can be, we decrease our chance at staying that way. Therefore, it is not hypocrisy that is the true evil, it is the hesitancy to change and flourish from our mistakes.