Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Unintended consequences are unforeseen outcomes that result from a particular and purposeful action or choice. 

For example, in India, government decision makers offered anyone a cash reward for a dead cobra. Apparently, live cobras are rather prolific in India and causing a public hazard. As a result of this incentive program, Indians were killing cobras by the knot full.

This serpentcide led to the near extinction of the dangerous snake in Delhi. Now we can all wander around safely. Barefoot in the tall grass along the Ganges with not a worry in the world, right? Wrong, once enterprising Indians made the connection that a male cobra and a female cobra get together to make pits of baby cobras…ch-ching! Let’s breed cobras! Well, eventually the Man caught wind of this little scheme and declared that they would no longer pay bounties for dead snakes. As a result of this pendulum shift, cobra breeders all throughout India dumped their nests of cobras into the nearest dusty ditch and went off in search of greener pastures. The end result? A lot more damn venomous cobras then we started with! Haha says the tiny anarchist who lives in my heart.

This is an unintended consequence. 

What we planned to achieve from our master plan does not pan out masterfully. We planted a redwood seed and nothing but weeds grew up. Our ability to make choices and plans comes with a very comical backlash: the unforeseen outcomes. 

Learning how to adapt and recover from these unwelcomed results can be the difference between giving up and moving forward. Choices generate the need for more choices. I hate to quote rap royalty but Biggie said it best. Mo’ choices mo’ problems. Or was that mo’ money? We digress…

Forgiving ourself for their choices

Most people in addiction recovery are suffering from a very precise kind of suffering. Many addicts cannot forgive themselves for their choices. We regret going out one more time. We lament the loss of a friend we could have saved but instead hastened to the grave. We wish we could take back so many things we did and said. Or worse, the things we did not do or say. Alcoholism is unforgiving. It holds grudges. But there is hope. The ability to see the unintended consequence for what it truly is, gives us an advantage when dealing with addiction, and in a much wider scope, our lives.

Unforeseen results

Listen, put simply, we do and say things and as a result, stuff happens. Some we intended and a lot more we did not. However, these unforeseen results themselves have unforeseen results, good and bad. As long as we are moving forward and learning from each choice and each word, we then walk an enlightened path. We have to make choices. 

Even when we refuse to choose, we chose. No decision is a decision. And with these choices, we feel the comfort and the sting. Really the weekly theme runs deeper than unintended consequences. Making brave and compassionate choices might be a better title. Or don’t give up ten feet from the finish line. Or, maybe, forgive yourself first, and then we can move on to forgiving the rest.

I know, this week’s theme is “How Can We Practice Having the Courage to Make Better Choices and the Wisdom to Learn the Double-Edged Lessons in Each Choice.”

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