How many times have you either said the above quote or been the recipient of it? It seems benign. It certainly seemed that way to me until I took a deeper dive.
When I was self medicating, I used the phrase "that wasn't my intention", A LOT. It shifted the focus, the blame, the misunderstanding on to the other person. I wasn't doing this maliciously, it was just "my way" and apparently, I didn't know any better.
Over the years, I have tried to do my best to see MY PART. This isn't always fun or comfortable but in my eyes, necessary for growth and expansion. And just because I own my part doesn't mean that it is received. Sometimes the recipient of my apology would just rather be angry.
What I have recognized is that when I use the phrase "that wasn't my intention" it really means that I wasn't paying attention to ANY intention or not aware of myself enough to set an intention in the first place.
I was recently meeting some of Lucas' friends and their Moms at a park in Temecula. Lucas was SO excited and looking forward to running around with his pals. He had his soccer ball and football and transformers. He brought enough for each of his friends. On the way to the park and had this funny feeling in my tummy that I was not in the right place. I had talked to a couple of the Moms earlier and they had told me where we were going but I spaced out. In doing so, we were really late. Lucas was really upset. I felt horrible. No amount of apologizing was going to change how he felt. We got to the park and one of the Dads said "oh, hey! Thanks for coming on time. We were all just leaving." I was taken aback and speechless.
There was no amount of shaming that could match the amount of shaming of myself I had already done. My son crying was enough punishment. Although this Dad had no malicious intent, he had no idea that my Father had just been diagnosed with an incurable brain disease, my Grandmother's ashes and death certificate had just shown up, Lucas had been crying in the car and that my number one pet peeve is tardiness. He, I am sure, was just trying to be funny.
Words hurt. Lack of intention hurts.
So, my challenge to you, if you are willing to take it, is to pay attention to your words. Notice when you are talking to just be talking. Notice when you are uncomfortable and what you say in those moments. Notice other people's body language when you are talking or when they enter a room. I am taking my own challenge.
Let's make our world (both close in and far and wide) a better place. Let's pay attention to our words. Let's practice pausing and running our potential words through this gate:
If it doesn't pass through the above gates, perhaps we just keep it to ourselves.