“An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.” —Mahatma Gandhi
Have you ever done something that you thought was very uncharacteristic of your behavior? Perhaps what was being exposed is a deeper issue that simmers below the surface? Maybe, it is revealing the type of people you are associating with during this period of your life? It could be the synapsis are not firing correctly in your brain, but maybe it can be just an honest mistake. There are some mistakes made that are not as innocent as others. Let’s take a look at a couple of reasons you might hear someone say “I didn’t mean to do that”.
There are multiple studies on the power of habits. One of the great books I have read on the subject is by Charles Duhigg, aptly titled “The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business”. When we act unseemly or react in a way not befitting the circumstance, we often find ourselves questioning our own reaction. Every New Years people worldwide make “resolutions” for the coming 365 days. Experts, have tracked these resolutions in studies and found that 80% of all resolutions fail by February. Some habits affect how we interact with the world at an unconscious level. Anyone that has played sports realizes the way you practice is the same way you will perform. This analogy is true in everyday life. We will react or act exactly the way we pattern our thinking on a daily basis. I realize humans are not machines and anyone can make mistakes in handling even a simple situation. Yet, if we examine an occasional faux pas it could reveal more about our pattern of thinking, our daily habits are likely the foundation of such behavior.
Another reason for saying “I didn’t mean to do that” can be a weak alibi or worse yet an insincere attempt at an apology. I have found people, in general, are very willing to be forgiving of others that apologize for their mistakes. The exception is an insincere confession of remorse or worse yet a lack of caring for one’s action. Repetition is another key factor in the acceptance of an apology. I tell my kids all the time, you can make 5 mistakes in one year, just don’t make them all in the same week. Repetition of a mistake may lead a person to believe the perpetrator gives no thought to the discomfort or hurt they are causing. If you really didn’t mean to do that, try your best not to repeat the offense.
There is also the occasional error that (wait for it) is no kidding an honest mistake. I once went into a credit union when I was young and the teller appeared to be pregnant. You can see where this is going. I asked her when she was due, and she quickly told me she wasn’t pregnant. I have since learned the number of questions you ask a woman you do not know should be, let’s call it non-existent. Yet, it was an innocent mistake. They actually exist and should be handled with kid gloves when the situation arises.
Finally, there are the mistakes made by children that are just hilarious. Most kids really are innocent, well, at least they start off that way. When James my youngest son was about ten years old, he was outside golfing with his friends. We live in a cul de sac and the boys were “teeing off” from the manhole cover in front of the house. I was in the office when I hear a window break. You guessed it, Tiger Woods Jr. had just launched the golf ball through our window. When I came outside I saw the boys peeking around the corner. I asked James what happened (totally rhetorical in nature). His answer was priceless, “Dad I was certain I could make it between the houses”. That was a young man’s version of “I didn’t mean to do that”. This is another instance when the mistake, while, not well thought out, was perfectly innocent. Sometimes, you just have to laugh and move on.
In conclusion, there