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Newsflash: Your Intentions Don’t Matter

People often try to avoid taking accountability for the impact that their words or actions have on others by saying something along the lines of, “Well, that wasn’t my intention!”

Dismissing the consequential feelings or reactions of other people simply because you didn’t mean to trigger them is not okay. Just because you didn’t intend to affect others in the way that you did does not resolve you of all accountability. 

At the end of the day, your intentions don’t matter. A mistake is as serious as the consequences it evokes. For example, If you were to walk into the kitchen with the intention of grabbing a midnight snack out of the refrigerator but accidentally knocked a gallon of milk off the shelf in the process of reaching for what you actually wanted, causing the milk to spill all over the floor, you wouldn’t just leave it there, would you? You didn’t mean to make a mess. It wasn’t your intention to spill milk everywhere, but it still happened. So, what do you do? Do you roll your eyes at the puddle on the floor because the milk had no reason to spill? Do you leave the mess there because gravity is an asshole for conspiring against you? Do you blame the gallon of milk for inconveniently existing and breaking in the way that it did when you weren’t even trying to knock it over? No. You grab a towel and you try your best to clean up the mess that you accidentally made because you know that it is your responsibility to do so, right? Well, people also deserve to be treated with at least the same basic respect as you would show to your kitchen floor. Next time you hurt someone, no matter how unintentional it may be, take a moment to acknowledge and apologize for the mess you made. Then put in the effort to try and help clean it up. 

You are human. You are allowed to make mistakes. However, you are not allowed to invalidate the pain that your mistakes may cause to the people you care about just because their feelings confuse or inconvenience you. If you really care about these people, listen to them, and try to understand why your actions unintentionally had a negative impact on them. Learn from the situation and adjust accordingly. We can’t always tiptoe around other people’s triggers, but we can at least attempt to understand why and where they exist, so we are not accidentally tripping over them constantly. 

Your intentions do not matter. Your ability to love others enough to admit, learn from, and apologize when you have made a mistake does.