The truth is, we don’t like consequences. At least, we don’t like the ones we don’t like. We actually love consequences when they work out in our favor. We love the feel of compensation for a job well done. However, most of us take this as a given and hardly notice it or associate it with consequences.
When we think of consequences, we are most often considering the negative repercussions of our behavior. And we hate that. We try to avoid it, shift blame, deny wrongdoing – just about anything to stave off dealing with the consequences of our actions.
But consequences are not just a good thing. They are great. And not just the ones we like. All consequences. Here is why:
As painful as it can be, consequences teach us how the world works. It shows us what is permissible under law, what is honorable within culture, and what is appropriate within relationships. We are limited in our own perception and capacity. Consequences are painful lessons for when we step outside of what is proper and right.
We fight this at every turn. We are hardwired for self-preservation. We want what we want. We want it now and without obstacle. We even distort our idea of consequences so that we perceive we deserve whatever we want. It is ours by justice, by fairness.
And so we do or say stupid things. We behave in inappropriate, selfish ways. It is ignorance to the way the world operates and the realities of life in community.
But consequences are about more than molding us into good citizens. If that were all there was to it, we would be lemmings. The rules would indeed be oppressors and us slaves to their whim. Many view consequences in just this way.
Thankfully, understanding how the world works is not the full extent of the benefit of consequences. It also helps to shape our character.
Character is the true version of ourselves. It is not just the boundaries of society we are testing, it is the parameters for peace and joy within our own hearts and minds. For example, if I commit a crime and do not ever get caught, I am not free of circumstances. I have to live with the guilt of my actions, the gnawing shame of my secret upheld. Even if I am never prosecuted, there is a price to pay. And the cost is my character. Only a sociopath is immune from the effects of character consequence.
Consequences make you a better you. They shape and mold the kind of person you want to be. Our factory setting is self-preservation (patterned thinking). And this sometimes blinds us to what is truly best for us. Consequences shake, strain, and challenge our factory setting and force us to evaluate who we are becoming and why.
The Ownership Funnel
All of this funnels our behavior into what we call self-governance. The ability of each individual to exercise self-control in destructive areas while pursuing their passions fully. Consequences shape this funnel. It moves us toward ownership of our lives and our decisions, refining both into a truer version of what we long to be.