Life situations bring with them what we call natural consequences. These are outcomes that innately flow from situations or our actions. In today’s blog, we are specifically focusing on our own actions, and recognizing the reality of natural consequences that occur follow our decisions to behave or take a specific actionable step. So what do we mean by this term?
When a person acts or behaves in a particular way, consequences are sure to follow. Keep in mind that a consequence does not always correlate to negative outcomes. Consequences are simply outcomes. These can either be positive, neutral, or negative, but essentially refers only to what occurs next as a result of the precipitating situation or action.
- If a person uses violence or aggression to express their emotions, consequences of some sort will follow. For example, if a person punches a hole in their wall, they may injure their hand and/or damage the wall. Feeling frustrated that you now have an injured hand and a wall to repair may be valid, but the responsibility lies with you, and you alone, for choosing to express negative emotions in such an external way.
- If a person keeps hitting the snooze button on their alarm, and they are then late to work and get a write-up or miss an important meeting, these consequences naturally flow from the person’s decision to keep snoozing their alarm.
- If a person late cancels an appointment or reservation and they are charged or not refunded the fee according to the policy they were made aware of in advance, the onus lies with the individual who late canceled to accept responsibility and incur the fee.
- If a person cheats on their significant other, regardless of the reason “why,” the responsibility and outcomes for doing so lies with the person who cheated.
- If you are delinquent in paying a bill, the natural consequences are additional fees.
- If a person puts necessary time and effort into studying for an exam, the natural outcome is likely to be that the person does well on the exam.
- If an otherwise healthy person consistently eats well and exercises, they are likely to lose weight or maintain their current weight.
- If you skip a meal, you will become hungry.
A big challenge for some is the aspect of ownership, accountability, and responsibility that is related to natural consequences (and consequences in general!). Even though the natural consequences are likely to follow, sometimes people have a tendency to blame other people, the situation itself, or other outliers. We call this possessing and employing an external locus of control.
The main challenge with an external locus of control is that the person does not take ownership of the consequences that follow from their decisions and behaviors. This can lead to unnecessary distress, negative impacts on relationships, and unrealistic thinking. When it comes to working with others, they may perceive you as irrational, flighty, stubborn, or even hostile. When you believe that other people or situations are responsible for the situations or consequences in your life, you are likely to dwell or ruminate on the situation longer, and not take any actions to remedy the problem “for next time.”
Understanding that all decisions and behaviors will result in a consequence of some type is an important first step to taking accountability. When you do this, you will see that you experience less distress, find resolutions quicker, develop more productive and amicable relationships, and experience less of the same problems in the future if you take the appropriate steps to remedy your choices and actions.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
At Tampa Therapy, we are committed to providing a relaxing, healing, and non-judgmental environment to support you on your journey to mental and emotional growth and health. If you want things to be different, you have to change them. This means being open-minded, committed, and recognizing the power you have in your life and over your own decisions and actions. If you are struggling with irrationality in your life, we can walk you through the process of building insight and gaining clarity on your next steps. Give us a call or email us today to start the process of making important changes in your life.