Intention Challenge

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e seem to always talk about intentions being the most important aspect of a person’s actions. We say things like, “I didn’t mean for that to happen,” or “That wasn’t my intention.” I know that when my son makes a mistake and is feeling badly about it I will ask him, “Well, did you mean to do that?” “Did you do it on purpose?” I am attempting to instill in him the idea that we all make mistakes and that what truly matters is our intention behind those mistakes. I have recently begun questioning though, at what point does the statement “It wasn’t my intention” become simply an excuse? Does relying on intentions lessen or diminish a person’s accountability for their actions?

If you think about it, most people don’t ever actually intend to negatively affect another person. We are all simply working our process in this universe in the best way we know how. We all have different life experiences and therefore different triggers to the things that hurt us or cause us pain. There is no way that we could ever know that something we might do will hurt another or cause them pain as we have not lived their life and had their experiences. Or can we?

As we build relationships with people we get to know things about them. We learn their likes, dislikes, goals, and dreams. Which means that after awhile, we also learn their triggers, the things that cause them hurt and pain. At this point doesn’t it become our responsibility to remain aware of this information and allow it to serve us in minimizing the hurt we cause within our relationships?

I do know that we are all responsible for our own feelings as feelings are very personal and based in specific past experiences. It is up to us to work through our past pains and heal within ourselves so that we have as few of these triggers as possible, if that is what we choose to do. I understand all of this yet still struggle with the idea that accountability and ownership does not stop within our self. Is it repeated hurts that make the intention less sincere? Is it a person knowing a trigger and proceeding in that direction anyway? Or is it simply a lack of true sincerity, blaming the intention with ease?

I am not sure that I have the answer to any of the questions I pose here. I know that I intend to be witness to myself and try to understand the process that occurs when my actions negatively affect another or when another’s actions negatively affect me. I want to attempt to distinguish between the times when referencing the intention feels like an excuse versus when it feels like a sincere explanation.

I ask you all to help me understand this struggle I am having with intention. I challenge you this month to be conscious of your interactions with others in which you negatively affect or are negatively affected by another. Take note of how the sincerity feels and the reasons why. Is the intention behind someone’s actions truly the most important aspect of behavior or are there other aspects that need to be considered? I look forward to hearing your thoughts, experiences, and discoveries.

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7 Comments

  1. ElizaSwords July 3, 2012 Reply

    Hi Jennifer! Great questions and great answers! It turns out, the word “intention” stems from the same Latin root as “intuition”…intentus. It is definitely something that, for me, comes from the body. When it comes from the mind, that’s when my little alarm goes off and I check myself for making excuses or rationalizing. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

    • Author
      Jennifer July 4, 2012 Reply

      I love that!!! Intention being linked to intuition…. What a beautifully simple way to understand. Thank you!!!!

  2. Thomas Ross July 3, 2012 Reply

    Jennifer, another thoughtful, honest, vulnerable post.

    I think of it like this. If by “intention,” we mean being present with another and thus acting with focus and care, I want to be intentional in my relations with others. But often, “intention” takes us to the idea that we can control how others receive us, or control generally what comes of our actions. This kind of “intention” is not a good thing as it takes us away from the present moment.

    When I am strong, centered, and present with another person, my actions will flow naturally. That’s what I strive to do- moment to moment. Failing often, always striving.

    You are such a thoughtful writer. Thank you.

    • Author
      Jennifer July 3, 2012 Reply

      Thomas… another thoughtful response:-)) I love what you write here about being intentional in our relationships. I understand that to mean that we are relating to others from a heart space. And from there we do not seek to control others or the outcome of our actions. Thank you!

  3. HaleyBJones-Chiarmonte July 2, 2012 Reply

    There is no perfect answer though. Just thought I’d mention that too. 🙂

  4. HaleyBJones-Chiarmonte July 2, 2012 Reply

    I love the questions you’ve asked. I think it’s important to learn a persons strengths, weaknesses, and triggers when you are embracing them in a close relationship. That way, you’ll be able to FEEL whether their intention is sincere. I think our hearts tell us more than we realize. <3 <3 <3

    • Author
      Jennifer July 2, 2012 Reply

      I love your reply about FEELING the intention. Our hearts truly do speak clearly to us when we clear away the interference and listen!!

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