It doesn’t matter what you think.
It really doesn’t.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Oh, I was going to do that, but then such-and-such came up and I couldn’t.
More than heard it, you’ve probably said it. A lot. I bet we all have.
I thought about calling, I just never got around to it.
Ah, it was next on my to-do list! I’ll get it done next time around.
This is why I say it doesn’t matter you think, or what I think. It matters what we do.
I can think I care about a person all I want to; but if, for instance, I forget about that person’s birthday, then what does it matter what’s inside of my head? There was no corresponding action to let the other person know. Hence, what I thought didn’t matter. (Especially in this day and age when remembering a birthday is as easy as having a Facebook account or creating a calendar alert.)
You can think about taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, and straightening up all the clutter before your significant other gets home, so they walk into a tidy abode; but if you don’t actually do it, you don’t get any bonus points for thinking about it. All you have is a little private solace to make yourself feel better, but it doesn’t do a damn bit of good for the other person. (And wasn’t that the goal?)
I am often reminded of this when I think about doing something for someone, and then I let the opportunity to take the associated action pass by. I am inevitably left feeling regret at having passed up an opportunity to help someone or make that person feel better or special.
What I thought didn’t matter. What I could have done would have.
I was specifically reminded of this when I read a blog post recently — this post, by Shauna Niequist: Why It Doesn’t Matter How You Feel About Your Friends.
Her basic point:
It doesn’t matter how much you love someone. What matters is that they know it.
The road to indifferent, misunderstood, and even hurt feelings is paved with great intentions.
Our pride is often too willing to let us off the hook for simply thinking about doing something (I’m so nice and thoughtful to have thought of that!) — as if private intentions never acted upon really matter.
What we need is the part of pride that reminds us our actions matter, and are important, and have impact … balanced with enough humility so that we realize those actions have to occur in real life and in relation to another person or people, not just in our own heads.
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, but I didn’t actually write it until now.
What I thought didn’t matter. Hopefully what I’ve done does.
Have you had any recent instances when you thought about doing something, didn’t do it, and were reminded about the power of actions over thoughts? Let’s discuss in the comment section.
Flickr Creative Commons Image via Davide Restivo