Category Archives: Unforeseen Consequences

Authentic Responsibilities: That’s a Wrap!

wrap up presents by Boians Cho Joo Young

image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young / freedigitalphotos.net

I want to close out this series on authentic responsibilities by giving you a list of all fourteen authentic responsibilities. Reading them all together in a list challenges me: I have the list printed out and posted on my wall as a reminder of my responsibilities to myself and others. I’m still working on all of these, especially clear communication and letting others know my thoughts and feelings. But the most important part is that I know what I should be doing and that I am working to improve them each and every day. Don’t let this list overwhelm you! Instead, my prayer is that you have been challenged to become more authentically responsible in your own life. Open the gift of one authentic responsibility and experience the difference–there’s no time like the present! (See what I did there? HAHA!)

  1. I alone am responsible for judging (evaluating, assessing) me – my motives (intent, needs, feelings, spirituality, abilities, intelligence, priorities, values) and to determine any adjectives that describe me. Therefore, I may refuse any judgment of me.
  2. I am not obligated to answer to a human being for why I do what I do (to justify my behaviors). That type of self-disclosure is a gift.
  3. I have the responsibility to choose whether I offer help for other people’s problems. I make my own commitments; no one can obligate me to that which I’m not committed.
  4. I am responsible for taking care of me and appropriately assisting those I’m committed to. I will sometimes change my mind. My new choice does not have to be justified and does not indicate that I have chosen irresponsibly.
  5. As a human being, I will make mistakes. I am responsible to make appropriate restitution which may include expressions of regret or sorrow, but not guilt.
  6. As a human being, I will sometimes not know the answer to a question. I am responsible to say “I don’t know,” continue respecting myself, and not accept any disrespect for “not knowing.”
  7. As a human being, I will sometimes act in a way that has unforeseen negative consequences for another. I am responsible for my own contributing to those consequences without requiring myself to have had prior knowledge I didn’t have.
  8. As a human being, I will make some decisions that others may describe as illogical. I am responsible to make decisions according to all my senses, including my sense of logic.
  9. When I do not understand any type of communication, I am responsible to ask for clarification without apology.
  10. I am responsible for deciding if and what I want to improve about me and responsible to refuse any disrespect for me about not caring to improve in a particular way.
  11. I am responsible to decide what is right for me and what is important to me.
  12. I am responsible for letting others know how I feel and what I think, instead of requiring them to read my mind.
  13. I am responsible for expressing myself without disrespecting the other and, when I do, to seek forgiveness and make plans to avoid repeating the disrespect.
  14. I am responsible to require courtesy and respect toward me.

Kathryn Chamberlin, LCSW-C

Authentic Responsibilities: Unforeseen Consequences

Authentic Responsibilities #7: As a human being, I will sometimes act in a way that has unforeseen negative consequences for another. I am responsible for my own contributing to those consequences without requiring myself to have had prior knowledge I didn’t have.

worried woman by David Castillo Dominici

image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net

I went down to visit my friend’s office while at work. We’ve been friends for a while, and she knows just about everything there is to know about me—including my struggles and my past addiction to pornography. As she was taking a phone call, she pulled up a Twitter feed and said, “Look at this!” I glanced but saw nothing out of the ordinary—just a random student’s profile. When I didn’t react, she said, “Did you see this?” As she pointed at the picture at the top of the profile, I again saw nothing. Then she pointed out the extremely pornographic nature of the picture on this teenager’s profile, and finally, it registered with me. I turned my head away as quickly as I could and then asked her, “Knowing what you know about me, is there a reason you felt you should show that to me?” She immediately felt regret and apologized profusely. I was upset initially, but I let it go very quickly—I know she didn’t do it on purpose and would never intentionally harm my recovery in this area! I asked her to consider my past struggles when showing me things in the future.

Authentic responsibility #7 says that sometimes we do things that have unintentional and unknown consequences for another person. Here are a few things to remember about this responsibility:

  • Own it. All actions have consequences. Some consequences are positive, some are negative, some are neutral. We are responsible for owning up to those things that negatively impact others. My friend immediately realized what she had done and apologized. When your actions unintentionally cause someone harm, the first and best thing you can do is to admit your mistake and apologize. You don’t have to post-script it with an, “I didn’t know”—just own your mistake.
  • Drop the guilt. Even if my friend wouldn’t have known about my pornography addiction, she might have felt guilty about her actions. But sometimes we do things and don’t realize the impact they will have on others—because we just don’t know what’s going on in their lives. In either case, part of our responsibility is to let go of the guilt—even if we had prior knowledge—once we have sincerely made amends. Remember to let go of the guilt not only if you are the offender but also the offended.
  • Move forward with knowledge. Unintentional, negative consequences that we cause to others sometimes have a way of propelling us forward. We shouldn’t just go forward blindly, however—we should move forward intentionally, armed with knowledge to help us better interact with others. I believe that my friend now will think twice before showing me anything inappropriate now that she realizes how serious I am about keeping my mind and thoughts pure. I will also continue being open and honest with my friends about my struggles to help them understand my own needs.

Remember that even when you didn’t mean to, you can still, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:23). Own it, drop the guilt, and move forward with knowledge to become a better person in Christ and more authentically responsible.

Have your actions ever caused unforeseen consequences for someone? How did you handle it?