Intentions vs. Actions

After observing & analyzing human behaviour, it is rather interesting how we have a inclination to judge others based on what actions they take. However, when we are looking at ourselves, we tend to judge ourselves based on our intentions. This article will cover a scenario to illustrate this idea of intentions vs. actions and then we will proceed to explain specific reasons to why this situation occurs. We’ll wrap up the article by discussing take away’s in how we can improve ourselves by looking at this situation.

As mentioned in the introduction, consider the following situation involving our favourite imaginary friends, John & Jane:

John is having a very busy day at work and is frantically running around trying to get all of his daily work completed. At some point during the day, he accidentally bumps into Jane and subsequently spills his coffee over her clothing. Jane bursts out in a fit of rage and believes that John spilled the coffee on purpose as they have a history of not working well together.

As we can see from this situation, John had no intention of ruining Jane’s attire as the spilled coffee was purely an accident.

Jane, on the other hand, believes that John had purposely spilled the coffee onto her clothing.

So what’s going on here? Why is there a disconnect between John & Jane? To help answer these questions, here are several reasons to why this situation could have occurred:

Information Disparity

As both John & Jane can’t read each other’s minds, John has no way of understanding why Jane came to her conclusion, and alternatively, Jane has no way of looking into John’s mind to see his true intention. Essentially, John & Jane have a difference in information that leads to incorrect conclusions.

The hypocritical nature of human beings

Many human beings are hypocritical when it comes to assessing a situation. For instance, when we’re stuck in traffic and someone cuts us off, we generally get angry & frustrated at the perpetrator. However, when we cut some one off, we generally feel justified in doing so. As can be seen, we are often judging people for things that we also do ourselves.

Projection of personal behavior & beliefs onto others actions

In the scenario described at the beginning of this article, we can see that Jane was very angry at John as she truly thought that he had spilled the coffee deliberately. Her anger is nested in the belief that John acted that way because of their uneasy relationship at the workplace. Also, she might be expecting John to behave and act in a way that is in accordance with her own behaviour.

What can we learn from this situation?

What can our takeaways be regarding this idea of intentions vs. actions to improve our approach?

  • We should make a conscious effort in asking for an explanation to understand the intent behind an action is before we jump to conclusions.
  • We need to recognize our tendency to be hypocritical towards a situation. If we recognize this, we are able to adjust our actions accordingly.
  • We should make an effort in trying to understand other people’s behaviour & belief systems instead of trying to apply our own system’s against their actions.


If we make a powerful effort in trying to understand ourselves and the actions of others, then we are capable of reaching our goal of true awareness.

Thank you for reading.





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