EVEN THE BEST INTENTIONS HAVE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES
Even the best intentions can have unintended consequences.
- a lesson that has been recurring in my life recently, and something I wanted to share my musings on.
As humans, I think we have the tendency to self-blame. When something doesn’t go right, when you don’t get that job you wanted, when someone gets upset due to your actions - our first assumption is that the cause was due to us, something we did, something we said, some part of our personality.
On the surface, this seems like something very normal, very healthy - and it can be. It allows us to self-reflect, to consider traits we might have and areas of our personality that might be holding us back. It makes us consider ways in which we could grow, ways in which we could become better human beings.
And that’s how I had always treated those situations. An opportunity to grow, to change, to learn.
But recently, these situations have been trying to teach me a different lesson - that as much as we might like to think it is, it’s not always about you.
Sometimes, your actions will have consequences that you didn’t intend. Maybe you cause someone to be upset, or hurt. Maybe they misinterpret what you’re trying to communicate with them. Maybe you were trying to look out for them, offer them advice, but they took it the wrong way.
What do we do then?
Instead of jumping to the self-blame, to the negative self talk that we’re terrible, inconsiderate people that need to keep their mouths closed, their truth hidden; to be more mindful and self-aware, take a moment to accept. There is nothing that you can do to change the current situation; your actions are now in the past. There is no point ruminating over what you could have done differently if you’re not taking anything positive from it into the future.
Reflect, yes, but not too deeply. Did you do something wrong? Of course, sometimes the ball is in your hands - and as humans, we all make mistakes. But even when your intention was misaligned, try to take something constructive to learn and grow rather than using the situation as fuel for self-destruction.
However - what I wanted to shed light on today is that sometimes, it’s really not your fault. And sometimes, it isn’t theirs, either. Some situations are brought to us in order for us to surrender. To recognise that relationships are two-way streets, the exchange of energy between TWO people, not just depleted from yourself.
Sometimes, our best intentions can have unintended consequences. Sometimes we act with the purest, most innocent motives, but others react in a way that is different from what you could have ever imagined. You have to realise that this is completely out of your control - and isn’t something that you have to take total responsibility for. Yes, be responsible for your actions, but not in a way that cultivates negative self-talk - just in a way which means you have to accept any outcome that occurs.
All emotions, all reactions are valid. This took me a while to understand and accept. But how could possibly someone’s reaction be valid if they were hurt by something I did that didn’t have any intentions of hurting them? How could they feel those things when they know I didn’t mean it at all?
That’s the thing - their reaction isn’t really to do with YOU, at all. It’s to do with the environmental circumstances, their past, their emotional state, their belief system and exposure to societal conditioning… all of which, and so much more, are completely out of your control. Feeling pain, hurt, upset, anger, frustration is as equally valid as feeling happiness, calm, content, optimism, love. Don’t expect someone to suppress or force their emotions to change in accordance to how you would have reacted in the same situation. That is their choice; not yours.
Realise that you didn’t do anything wrong, they didn’t do anything wrong. You both acted, and reacted, in exactly the way you were meant to. And if you look closely enough, if you remain open and prevent the ego from trying to mentally self-harm and cause you pain, you’ll realise in that moment of conflict, there was an important lesson to be learnt.
And for the future; don’t let one experience cause you become fearful of misinterpretation, miscommunication; of unintentional consequences. Stay mindful; work on your communication, your self-awareness, the energy you give out and the people you attract - but don’t close off and hide yourself, don’t hold back from living as your truest self in fear of no longer pleasing others.