Actions and Consequences.

I have often said that 2 of the first words my kids (if I have any) will learn are "consequences" and "repercussions," because I believe in those things. There are consequences and repercussions for everything and I firmly believe that if more people understood that, people would make better decisions. The problem is, we spend a lot of time pushing consequences off onto other people or trying to shield those we care about from said consequences. And don't get me wrong, sometimes that's appropriate...for children...

I dislike the word "whatever." If there was a word I could delete from the English language, "whatever" would make the top 3, easily. I hate that word because it's usually misused in a very dismissive way and I hate being dismissed. J realized that and he would say "whatever" whenever he wanted to smoothly piss me off (and sometimes, that was all the time).

My mom uses it a lot with me and I'm realizing that's because she doesn't really get how much it pisses me off, but don't worry -- we're going to handle that.

The thing I hate about dismissiveness is the way people use it to absolve themselves of responsibility for their actions. Another overused phrase that accomplishes that goal is "it's not that serious" or "I was just joking..." Think about the last time you used either of those phrases and be honest about why.

My experience is that people use those phrases when they realize that their words/actions had unintended consequences and instead of accepting the consequence, want to absolve themselves of it.

Let me be frank: if you say something, and unintentionally hurt the person who hears it, your "mistake" does not absolve you of responsibility.

If I'm sitting in my living room and there are other people around and I'm playing with a gun and it goes off and the bullet hits someone and kills them, the unintentional nature of my actions doesn't absolve me of responsibility. It will lessen whatever punishment I receive, but I'm still responsible for my actions. The same goes for words.

Look, I feel misunderstood about 85% of the time, so I get what it's like to say something and have it taken the wrong way. It happens to me daily. But I'm an adult, I believe in accepting responsibility for what I do and so I apologize. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings..." is not that hard to say. Takes about as much effort as "I was just kidding, calm down" or "It's not that serious..."

Once words leave your mouth (or fingers, as we become more and more of a text-based society) they are no longer yours. They belong to whoever was there to hear (or read) them and they get to take them the way they want. I've been the victim of gross misunderstanding: that is where people purposefully twist my words into something they can take offense to, and as much as I want to say "you're an asshole..." I don't. I simply say "I'm sorry" and I note that I should be very careful with them in the future.

The thing about dismissive phrases like "whatever" or "it wasn't that serious" or "I was just kidding, calm down" is that they not only deflect acceptance of responsibility but they also push the responsibility back on the other person, as if to say "you took that wrong, it's your own fault you feel the way that you do."

Yes, there are over sensitive people out there and yes there are appropriate times to let a person know that they're being too serious for a situation and I believe we all know what those are. But even in those situations, words have consequences and that person deserves acknowledgement that how they feel is noted, valid and not intended.


Anonymous said...

"Whatever" is one of my favorite words! I do use it to dismiss people like "you can't tell me anything" or "I know I'm right". But I also use like "girl, you tripping".

if you say something, and unintentionally hurt the person who hears it, your "mistake" does not absolve you of responsibility.
I so agree with that statement.

A.Smith said...

LOL -- you know what, Ms Southern gal... just for you, I'll move "whatever" down to the top 5 list.

But seriously, sometimes "whatever" can be awesome like "Whatever you want..." as we're standing in the middle of a mall and you do the wide-sweeping hand motion. LOL. Unfortunately, some people killed it.

ChiChi said...

I see a lot of a past situation in this post. I actually did apologize to a former friend after a few words of astonishment, but I also said I wouldn't apologize for saying what I said period. I felt like if I apologized for everything I supposedly did or said that she took some kinda way, I woulda just been straight BSing her on some let me tell her what she wants to hear type shit. There were some other things from the past brought up, though. So, the whole conversation took a left turn from jump street. LOL

A.Smith said...

ChiChi you bring up a good point.

Sometimes I say things that hurt people and even though it wasn't really my intention, I don't care and I'm not sorry. But in not being sorry, I own that. I won't tell them (as I'm sure you didn't) that they're overreacting or that I'm just joking and they should chill. I'll shrug my shoulders and keep it moving.

ChiChi said...

LOL cuz I did say she was overreacting. It's almost like I stopped caring because it was such a non-issue in my eyes, but she literally shut down on me because it hurt her SO much. I mean, not talking period. It was obviously deeper than just that specific point in time.

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