A little while ago I received an email from a client who wanted my perspective on a course she was considering taking. Actually, what she wanted was my perspective on the person who had suggested she buy the course, because that person worked for someone with whom I had worked closely years ago. She wanted to know whether I thought the encouragement to take the course was sincere, or whether it was coming from a place of trying to sell something to make money.
Here is what I told her: my perspective didn’t matter. And more importantly, the other person’s intentions didn’t matter. What mattered were her own intentions, and the unexpected suggestion to take a course gave her the opportunity to become clear about them.
I’ve observed that, in general, most people are accustomed to thinking about intentions in terms of things they consciously originate, such as setting an intention to be more loving or an intention to reach an ideal body weight. But they often overlook the choice they have to be intentional about things that come to them, rather than things they specifically aim for.
Perhaps the most important thing to know about intentions is this: the heart of every intention is desire. We wouldn’t consciously intend anything unless we wanted it. This truth is so basic and fundamental it’s easy to forget. But once we remember, it’s a great place to start with respect to setting or clarifying our own intentions.
In my client’s case, the first question she needed to ask herself was whether the course appealed to her. Given what she knew about it, did it excite her? Did it seem to address things that were important to her? Did she feel drawn to it?
And if the answer to those questions was Yes, and if she had the money to invest in the course, she could consciously choose to set other intentions that would support her in creating a desired outcome.
She could intend to invest quality time with it on a regular basis. She could intend to explore all of the activities it suggested. She could intend to focus on everything she liked about it and to let go of what she didn’t. She could intend to meditate and reflect deeply on the aspects that resonated with her and invite fresh insights of her own to emerge.
In other words, she could intend to get something really good out of it, regardless of what intentions were held by the person who recommended it to her.
And that’s because her intentions govern her experience, which is true for you and for all of us. This is so fundamental I think it bears repeating:
YOUR intentions govern your experience.
It’s all too easy to focus on other people and their possible hidden motives, becoming so absorbed in figuring them out that we lose touch with ourselves. And as we lose touch with ourselves, we lose touch with our personal power to create meaningful and fulfilling lives.
I’m reminded of another client who brought this truth home to me with crystal clarity, many years ago. I recall one session in particular during which she was expressing extreme frustration. She felt unfulfilled in her job and wanted to do more creative work. She blamed her boss for a lot of her frustration because she felt he took advantage of her by asking her to do things that weren’t in her job description.
And that’s why she said a firm No! to a project he’d just asked her to take on. She refused to be taken advantage of. But here’s the kicker: the work she would have done on that project was the type of creative work she actually wanted to do. By turning him down in righteous indignation, she’d disconnected from her own genuine desires (and her own good sense).
My client hadn’t yet understood that the only way she could have felt taken advantage of while doing work she genuinely wanted to do was by telling herself the story that she was being taken advantage of – in other words, by focusing on what she perceived his intention to be rather than focusing on her own.
But here and now, we can all choose to understand this more deeply, and to become more fluid with consciously intending desirable outcomes and desirable states of being in our day-to-day lives. Intentions aren’t just for “big” things such as finding a life partner or starting a new career. Intentions determine the quality of every experience we have.
We can choose to see unexpected options, invitations or challenges as perfect opportunities to get clear about what we genuinely want, and intend to create, in our lives. This requires a firm understanding that what we genuinely want matters because we matter.
It also requires a willingness to cultivate greater present-moment awareness of what feels aligned with what we want – and what doesn’t – as suggestions and opportunities come our way.
This felt sense of alignment comes not only from consciously knowing what we want, but also from recognizing our intuitive knowing of what is or isn’t right for us. Opportunities may show up that seem to match what we want, yet our intuition tells us otherwise. And we honor ourselves by honoring our intuition.
Intuition is a subject for another time, yet the point here is that either way – whether through a conscious assessment of the degree to which something aligns with what we want, or an intuitive knowing about it – we can’t discern how something feels to us if we’re focused on the other person. Our focus needs to be on us, not on them.
The truth is that others’ intentions have no effect on us unless we let them. I can’t be taken advantage of if I’m doing something willingly. I can’t be sold something I don’t want if I know what I want and honor what I know. I can’t be made to feel less than I am if I know who I am and who I intend to be.
And neither can you. So don’t spend valuable time trying to figure out others’ intentions, because they aren’t relevant to you. Spend valuable time determining your own… and dare to intend for what you really want.
Copyright © 2018
Suzanne E. Eder