Why you should practice what you preach


Kevin Mangelschots

There are multiple reasons why you should practice what you preach. Having the peace of mind because you’re staying true to yourself, being one of them.

It’s tempting sometimes to act out of character because of peer pressure or because of the fear of retribution from the group. Still, I urge you not to do so. Because when you walk the talk, is when you will be the most content with your existence.

Benefits of practicing what you preach

Image of the quote, “practice what you preach.”

Reducing cognitive dissonance

Practicing what you preach reduces cognitive dissonance. Experiencing cognitive dissonance will make you feel anxious and potentially even fearful if it becomes a chronic issue.

Let me explain real briefly what this psychological phenomenon is.

Cognitive dissonance is about consistency. It means that we want our belief system and our values to align with our actions. If not, it causes tension and anxiety that can make us mentally and even physically sick when left unchecked.

In other words, we want our behavior to match our beliefs to reduce mental tension.

To stay rooted firmly in reality

The words “expectations vs. reality” written in black letters on a light blue background.

Acting out of character will eventually blur the line between reality and fiction. It will, quite literally, cause one to become worse at dissecting what’s the objective truth and akin to reality and what is untrue.

Why is that?

Because acting out what you don’t believe in will bring forth cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance will cause tension and anxiety, two things we desperately try to avoid throughout our lives. And for good reason, because long-term tension and anxiety cause chronic stress and are extremely unhealthy.

So what do we do when we experience cognitive dissonance and the accompanied stress? Logically, we try to reduce or eliminate that mental strain entirely.

We accomplish that feat either by actually acting out what we believe in or by convincing ourselves that we’re not acting out what we believe in for the greater good. It can also be the case that we try to delude ourselves and convince ourselves of the lies we’re telling. We rationalize our dysfunctional behavior to reduce tension.

The best thing to do is simply act out what you believe in. When you practice what you preach, you won’t have to delude yourself. You stay grounded in reality with both feet firmly on the ground. But, it does require a lot of courage to practice what you preach, and you will have to go against the grain sometimes.

Image of two ducks standing in water. The duck standing on the left is seemingly standing on one leg while hiding his head while the other is standing on two legs.

It makes your life easier

Walking the talk means you won’t have to remember your lies. Furthermore, you will have the peace of mind that you will do the things you believe in while not acting out the stuff you don’t want to do or believe in. This will go a long way towards making your life more pleasurable. Not to mention that it’s easier as well.

Constantly having to lie or remember your lies is mentally taxing. And acting out things you don’t believe in will trigger cognitive dissonance, which will be mentally draining as well.

You will attract the right people

You will attract the right people when you lead by example. Granted, that group might not be large at all.

If you act what you preach, then you will attract like-minded people. Individuals who have the same values and belief system as you.

Once you find the right group of people, everything will fall into place and life will become easier and more pleasant as a result.

Ultimately, we all want people who we can rely on, who love us, and who will help us through the rough periods in our lives.

It provides authenticity

The quote, “authenticity isn't about being the real me, but being true to our purpose and values that drive us” written in black letters on a yellow background. By Tanveer Naseer

Being true to yourself shows you’re an authentic person who doesn’t mind going against the masses at times to act out what they believe in.

Since humans are social animals, this can be hard to do. Especially for those of us who are non-competitive, empathic, and not assertive.

Yet, every individual is different. And that’s why I urge everyone to develop their unique personality and their innate talents to improve their own lives and that of others as well.

Try to talk the talk and walk the talk.

It shows a strong character

If you practice what you preach, then you show a strong character that demands the respect of the public.

A lot of people don’t have the guts to stay true to themselves and what they believe in. Thus, we frequently see individuals who act truthfully as leaders who are worth following.

A strong character is needed to overcome the hurdles and obstacles life throws at you as well. And without struggle, there can be no growth.

People will respect you

Image of two people giving each other a hand and the words “respect, give it to get it” written besides it.

People respect individuals who stick to their guns, even when times are hard. They might not always like what you say, but they will at least begrudgingly admire your ability to act what you preach.

We don’t want to be deceived and fooled by words or actions. However, we sometimes prefer hearing a sweet lie instead of a harsh truth because it’s hurtful and discomforting to our ego. And our ego has a way of desperately trying to protect itself.

However, it seems like we’re hardwired to seek out honesty and to loathe hypocritical people.

Honesty makes you trustworthy

Image of a person of white and black skin color holding hands.

Let’s face it, we like honesty. And if people don’t act what they preach, then that means they’re being hypocritical instead of truthful. And that makes them untrustworthy as a result.

We need to know that we can trust the people around us to be able to depend on them.

If we go back a couple of thousands or even millions of times, then our survival depends on being able to trust the person beside us. Because we needed to know that our trusted “band of brothers” would back us up against other groups of hostile people, against wild animals, or if we got sick and needed to be taken care of while we recovered.

Likewise, it can be argued that lying is a learned behavior and that this can be an advantage to get what you want by deceiving or manipulating others. This can certainly be true if we look over a short period.

However, I believe that in the long run, lying is a bad option since people will catch on to you eventually. And if they do, everything you said beforehand, even the things that were true, become questionable. Trust is hard to build, but easy to break indeed.

Not to mention that trust is the foundation for well-functioning relationships. And once that trust is gone, it’s very hard to get it back. That’s why I believe that you should tell the truth or, at the very least, not lie.

Furthermore, lying blurs reality in the long run, and brings forth a lot of anxiety because you have to remember the lies, and because lies have a way of expanding and building upon each other growing ever larger.

Makes you credible

Practicing what you preach makes you seem like a credible person who’s deserving of trust and responsibility.

Credibility is hard to build and easy to ruin. Every good relationship and business is built upon credibility.

The quote, “integrity, doing what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it” written on a blue background.

Your opinion will hold more weight

Since the audience knows you’re a trustworthy person who practices what you preach, your opinion will hold more value since they know it is YOUR opinion, and not simply a parroting of someone else’s vision.

Also, they will know that every opinion you possess is formed because you believe in it and because you want the best possible solution, not to manipulate people because there’s something to gain for yourself.

People will figure you out eventually

If you don’t act out what you preach, then you will be figured out sooner or later. And the results will be devastating.

I don’t think that people get away with anything. I believe that things have a way of coming around eventually, both the good and bad things.

This means that you might get away with lying and not acting out what you believe in for a short amount of time, and it might even benefit you in some manner.

But sooner rather than later, people will catch on to you and will not trust you anymore since you’ve misused their trust.

If you don’t act what you preach, then who’s to say that you’re not lying about the other stuff you’re doing or have told them? Something worth thinking about.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does, “practice what you preach” mean?

Practicing what you preach means acting the way you tell others to behave. It means doing the things you propose others to do.

This means that your actions will always be consistent with your words.

How to practice what you preach

A person holding a question mark in front of their face.

It’s hard to do everything yourself that you tell others to do. Particularly since most of us have high standards for others. This is how to practice what you preach:

  1. Work on yourself
  2. Figure out what’s important before preaching what others should do
  3. Do yourself what you tell others to do
  4. Don’t lie to yourself or others
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Own your mistakes
  7. Be mindful of the feelings of others
  8. Only give advice that you carry out yourself

Why is it important to practice what you preach?

It is essential to practice what you preach because if you don’t, then you’re simply a liar in addition to a hypocrite to yourself, and/or the world.
That’s why your words should align with your belief system. Not to mention that living true to your word will make you more content, mature, and confident.

Why is it hard to practice what you preach?

Humans aren’t always perfect. We’re inherently flawed. Thus, always doing what you preach simply isn’t possible.

There’s also the fact that just knowing what to do is not enough. It requires courage, persistence, and effort to do the things that might be very hard in reality.

Thus, we need to strive to improve ourselves every day and to act out what we believe in as much as possible.

Do you practice what you preach?

Image of a black man preaching.
When you practice what you preach, you will be the happiest.

Do you?

To answer this question, you’ll need to figure out if you do what you preach. This can be a hard and tricky thing to do at times.

The best way to figure that out is to think of what situations you’re lying in, or when you know you’re not telling the truth. You should also consider and keep in mind when you’re doing as you tell others to act, and when you’re not.
The best thing to do is to stop lying altogether when you discover that there are instances where you intentionally lie. Make sure to behave the way you tell others to represent themselves. If you don’t, then you’re just another hypocrite.
Practicing what one preaches is always a great mentality to have in life. It means you’ll always have the peace of mind that the actions you carried out were performed with the best intentions. Even when you inevitably find out that sometimes those actions weren’t the right, or most appropriate solutions.

What do you call someone who doesn’t practice what they preach?

Illustration of a man scratching their head while holding a yellow question mark.

Someone who doesn’t practice what they preach is called a hypocrite.

Calling them a liar is also appropriate since they might be lying to themselves, but especially to others.

The reason they’re a hypocrite and liar is that they’re not behaving the way they’re telling the rest of the world to behave. Thus, their actions don’t align with their words, which makes them untrue.

Practice what you preach has many existing synonyms, such as:

  • Do what you preach
  • Practice what one preaches
  • Lead by example
  • Do what you advise others to do
  • Walk the talk
  • Have nothing to hide
  • Be the done thing/be done
  • Be on the right

While these sentences are written somewhat differently, the intent stays precisely the same. This conveys that all of the above can be used reciprocally.

Call to action

“Stop wishing start doing” written on a bottle.

Preach what you practice.

Try living your life authentically by acting out what you believe in. Even if you get backlash from the people around you, you’ll still learn a lot about yourself and what it truly means to be “you”. This way, you will develop your personality and your innate talents.

While it might be hard and challenging at times, it has multiple benefits such as having peace of mind, gaining more respect from those around you, and others considering you more trustworthy.

It might not always get you the most friends, but it will get you the RIGHT friends. And that’s what’s important.