Taking Responsibility For Your Actions Means Taking Responsibility For Their Impact, Too

I wonder if “sorry” can ever be enough to own up to our impact.

I suppose it can, depending on the situation. Sometimes sorry is all that it takes to make the difference to somebody.

But sometimes it really isn’t. Sometimes, though your intent in apologizing is good, the impact of what you have already done is too damaging to return from. It might be that your apology even comes across as mildly insulting because it in no way carries the same weight as the harm you caused.

Something that is imperative for us to learn is the difference between our intent and our impact. Our intent is our hope, our dream for how our actions are delivered. Our intent could almost always be good-natured; however, once we do the thing and our action is done, we have no control over how that might impact someone.

Our impact is how our intent is received. It’s our definitive striking of the gong with no control over how it sounds. Though we might hope for the best, hoping is the best we can do.

Unfortunately, though your intent might be good, you still have to take full ownership over your impact. You are responsible for the unplanned effects of your intent. You are responsible for yourself and the consequences your actions might cause.

That being said, we can hopefully (and should be trying to) assume best intent. With any luck, at this point in our lives, we have surrounded ourselves with people whose intent we can trust. Or at least whose ownership of impact we can depend on.

We should be able to generally trust those around us truly want the best for us, even if it doesn’t always come out that way, even if they mess up. Because they will inevitably mess up. We’re all human, after all.

But that’s where we get the opportunity to show grace; that’s where we get to display our grand ability to love even through the mess.

We have the opportunity to look at someone and see the difference, to see that their intent was pure, even when their impact was damaging. We get the chance to instill the kindness on them that we will one day need in return.

So own it all. Own your intent, own your impact, but also own your ability to bestow forgiveness where it potentially isn’t deserved.

Because that could be your impact—your ability to see past someone’s misgivings and fully envelop them in forgiveness and kindness and love.

Give yourself that grace. Let yourself see past the initial impact of someone else’s poor decisions to their original intent.

You never know what you might see there. TC mark

About the author
Good person, messy eater, notorious plant killer. Follow Shelby on Instagram or read more articles from Shelby on Thought Catalog.

Learn more about Thought Catalog and our writers on our about page.

Related