The Road to Hell © Martyn Carruthers 2009
Hell is full of good intentions.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)
I just wanted to help.
I thought that you’d like it.
I really meant it for the best.
It seemed like such a good idea.
I did it for the sake of the children.
Consequences of Good Intentions & Wistful Thinking
While well-meaning and considerate actions are essential to a humane society, but being nice can sometimes hurt or damage people and / or yourself. You can take on too much, you might try to rescue self-destructive friends … and much more.
Do you know how to replace negative emotions and self-defeating habits? If your intentions feel good and right … why should you change? Why not just criticize and blame the rest of the world for not living up to your ideals and your standards?
Here are a few tips:
- Accept imperfection in yourself and others.
- Ask for permission before you help someone.
- Offer useful information rather than good advice.
- Be kind and honest, and tell people what you want from them.
- Learn how to say “No!” … and avoid feeling overloaded and burned out.
We help people to manage their emotions and solve relationship problems.
Good Intentions at Work
We have seen leaders damage effective teams with their good intentions. Some managers want to be substitute parents to a work group … they may help people who don’t want to be helped. Some managers want to be powerful and push productive people to produce more … perhaps pushing those people out of the team. Some managers want to be one of the group, but sabotage their leadership with too much camaraderie.
We are often asked by executives: What should be in our mission statements? A common mistake is to make mission statements into a smorgasbord of good intentions and positive thinking. When we coach people to create or redefine mission statements, we ensure that those statements become clear and succinct reflections of the organizations’ reasons for existing.
A useful mission statement incorporates meaningful and measurable criteria about such things as the organization’s ethical position, target market, public image, products/services, the geographic domain and expectations.
Good Intentions in Therapy and Counseling
Many helping professionals use similar methodologies with different degrees of success. Their success often depends on their ability to select clients or patients, diagnose accurately, provide useful tools for change and develop trusting relationships.
Minds can sometimes be described as rational and sometimes irrational. We may describe the rational mind as intellect, and the irrational mind as emotions. We primarily study relationships.
Psychologists often specialize, for example in educational psychology or marketing. Most clinical psychologists aim to reduce distress and enhance wellbeing.
Psychiatrists, broadly speaking, practice two kinds of treatment – physical and conversational. Physical treatments are used to affect minds through bodies, using drugs or electric shocks; and conversational methods are used to affect minds directly, without medication or physical intervention. See Evolution of Good Intentions.
Psychotherapy could be described as structured conversations aimed at changing behavioral and emotional habits through verbal communication – much like parents talking to children. Psychotherapy does not include chemical, biochemical or electrical coercion. Psychotherapy is people talking to people.
Helping professionals can explain:
- What they do if a person is in a crisis.
- Their offers and plans for initial sessions.
- How they schedule and cancel appointments.
- The cost of each session and payment methods.
- How and under what circumstances the relationship will end.
Coaching Competence of Helping Professionals
For us, competence starts with helping people define what they want and then exploring how to get what they want and then making change happen. We:
Many helping professionals realize that it’s not profitable to cure people … it’s much more profitable to sell drugs, even if many drugs do little more than hide emotions or mask symptoms. Even good intentions can take second place to personal profit.
The drug industry provide free samples and gifts to the doctors and psychiatrists who prescribe their drugs. They often reward doctors who write the most prescriptions for their products with free holidays and bonuses. In 2009, Pfizer, the largest drug dealer, was fined $2.3 billion for illegally promoting drugs.
Some drug addicts go doctor-shopping, seeking health professionals who have descended to being drug dealers. Some doctors become addicted to the drugs that they prescribe – drug abuse by medical professionals is an old story.
Good intentions can damage your health
Maturity, emotional stability and competence may be essential qualities of a helping professional, yet these qualities are not selected by universities nor professional organizations. Ability to pay and a knowledge of statistics are more important. Deficiencies in the caretakers’ own emotional stability and competence seem to be primary sources of damage to clients, patients … and to the professionals themselves.
Certificates are not enough. Which universities or training organizations will test or vouch for the character or stability of the people they graduate or certify, seek evidence of both competence and maturity, to avoid mentor damage?
Contact us to resolve success, emotional and relationship issues