The Power of Intention

If you don’t like how your day typically goes, then I highly recommend beginning it with an intention.

 

Starting your day with a written intention is one of the most powerful ways to give your day meaning and purpose.  It is a guiding principle that steers you through the day ahead.  It is not what you’re going to do but how you’re going to do it.  It’s a goal of who you want to be as you respond to the demands of your day.

 

If this concept appeals to you, then I invite you all to join me in starting each workday with a Weekday Intention that I will send you.  There are no strings attached.  Each intention is free for the taking.  The intention will be sent automatically to you Monday through Friday at 7 AM Denver time here in the United States.  To begin receiving your Weekday Intentions, simply go to blog.rjhandley.com and click to follow me or enter your email address in the form on my blog site.

 

I am confident that you will quickly experience the benefits that I have in your own life by living each Weekday Intention.  Life is tough.  I don’t hear many of my friends or my life coaching clients saying, “Life is too easy” or “I need more suffering in my life right now.”  But I do think that we can live life more consciously and fully than many of us are currently living it.  The truth is that we can drift in the sea of today blown about by the wind, or we can consciously steer our ship with intention.

 

Intention is one of the most powerful creative forces we have available to us.  It drives our aspirations.  And the power of intentions is supported by the current psychological theory called Behavioral Activation.  It states that the quickest way to change any self-defeating behavior is not to think differently but to act differently.

 

And intentions are all about action. Without action, the intention exists only as potential.  So we need to engage in the tasks ahead of us while using an intention to guide us.  The intention is not the person or task we are focusing our attention on but how we are focusing that attention.

 

Unlike affirmations that define who you are, intentions state how you want to live your life today.  Affirmations usually begin with the words, “I am…” whereas intentions usually begin with “Today, I will…”  A typical affirmation would be “I am a positive person.” An intention would be “Today, I will praise others for their progress and forget their failings.”

 

My Weekday Intentions grew out of my need to maintain my sobriety from alcohol and drugs.   But they can be used by anyone. In my spiritual life coaching practice, they have become a source of inspiration for clients who are contending with issues like depression, anxiety, trauma, negative habits, relationships, grieving and loss.

 

These intentions have helped keep me attuned and connected to God’s power, love, and way of life. I created them based on my studies of authors such as Michael Singer, Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra, Adyashanti, Bill W. and others who are recognized masters of spiritual psychology.

 

Starting your day with the Weekday Intention is a great way to boot up with the spiritual software that will get you into alignment with your Higher Power. You will then find that your Higher Power responds to the intention by working within your environment and circumstances to support your intention.

 

Here is the first Weekday Intention:  Today, I will see the Divine in all people and feel it in myself.

 

*Note:  I’m publishing this blog with the above intention at 12 noon—the usual time I publish my blog.  But I will be sending out all subsequent Weekday Intentions at 7 AM Denver time while still publishing my After the 12 Steps blog at noon on Fridays.

 

Here’s how to activate the inherent power of each intention:

 

  • Before beginning the workday, find a quiet place to sit, free from distractions.
  • Let go of “doing” and focus on “being.”
  • Ask your Higher Power for the power to live your intention as fully as you can, knowing that each intention is something that you can do today that will improve who you are and bring about the best outcomes for all those you come in contact with today.
  • Breathe.
  • Place your hand on your heart and connect with yourself.
  • Say the intention to yourself until you can feel its power within you.
  • Ask your Higher Power to help keep you aware of and committed to each intention throughout the day.
  • Begin your workday.

 

Whenever you feel yourself tightening or stressing during the day, pause and take some breaths and then state your intention to yourself. This will re-align you with your Highest Self and with your Higher Power.

 

Checking in with yourself before bed can really be a powerful way to close out the day.  This can be done in two simple steps: First, cast your mind over the day and find the events that you are grateful for.  And second, honestly look at how well you did in honoring your intention by finding specific examples in your day.

 

On Monday, I will post another Weekday Intention here on WordPress.  Again, if you would like these automatically sent to your email, go to blog.rjhandley.com and click to follow me or enter your email address.

 

We change the world one person at a time beginning with ourselves.   Thanks for joining me.  Please drop a few lines in the comment section of this post to share the experience you had with this first intention.

If you would like to work one-on-one on with me concerning an issue that is robbing you of your happiness such as depression, anxiety, relationships, negative thoughts, or esteem, contact me.  I’m at rjhandley.com.  Google my name if you’d like to find out more about me.

Kind Regards,

RJ Handley

Spiritual Life Coach

Why Advice Hurts Others

Unsolicited advice implicitly says, “I’m offering you a solution because you’re incapable of coming up with a good one on your own.”

 

Yes, it’s very difficult to watch loved ones make a mistake.  Often, we rush in with both guns blazing, trying to save a person from what we perceive as an error in judgment.  It’s especially difficult for those of us who have a long history of advice giving.  It seems like there is an unstated moral imperative that we use the wisdom we’ve learned from our own mistakes to save others from their mistakes.

 

And that’s a problem.  When we offer others unsolicited advice, we are not only implying they are incapable of making good decisions for themselves but also depriving them of an opportunity for personal growth. The hidden power of mistakes is that they are the very ore from which wisdom is produced.  It is the alchemy of turning the base metals of error into something precious—and lasting.

 

Before offering unsolicited advice, we may want to ask ourselves, “Would I really want to deprive another of what created my own wisdom?  And can I really be confident that what I believe is right is also right for another person?”

 

Consider this as well.  When we offer unsolicited advice, two things may result: shame and blame.  People may feel shame because unsolicited advice is inherently saying that the other person’s decision making skills are poor.   Also, unsolicited advice can harm a relationship because when someone takes your advice and things turn out badly, who are they going to blame?

 

For those of us who are ambivalent about unsolicited advice, we often rationalize our decision to give it by combining it with one of our “pearls of wisdom.” However, wisdom is contextual and, therefore, subjective because it is based on our own limited interactions with life.  Even though wisdom feels like ultimate truth, it really conforms to a formula: my knowledge + my experience = my wisdom.  Not anyone else’s. 

 

So what’s the alternative?  After all, we want to help those we care about.

 

Spiritual author and self-help guru Byron Katie says that whenever she is asked for advice, she responds: “I have no idea what you should do.  I can only share what worked for me.  Are you interested in hearing that?”

 

The honesty and humility inherent in Katie’s response invites others to consider our experience as a possible solution without the pitfalls of unsolicited advice.

 

Another useful technique in avoiding unsolicited advice comes from my own work with the ManKind Project, an international group of men committed to developing greater emotional intelligence (EQ).  I have learned that when someone has given me the honor of listening to his or her issue, I briefly pause to ask, “Do you want me to just listen or to listen and help you come up with solutions?”

 

As a former “advice provider,” I have been seduced by my desire to solve other people’s problems.  It’s easy to assume that when sharing a difficult issue with us, people want our advice.  Men are especially prone to the temptation to immediately fix the person or situation.  Although we have heard women say from the advent of language that they “just want to be listened to,” we find it extremely difficult to avoid jumping in to solve the problem.

 

As an enlightened male, Buddhist monk and Nobel Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh, says that we listen to others with compassion rather than judgment in order to relieve another’s suffering. We listen with only one purpose: to allow that person to “empty his heart.”  And we remember that we “are helping that person to suffer less even if what he is saying is full of misperceptions or bitterness.”

 

Then what about the misperceptions?  He suggests that we set aside another time to address those—if, in fact, that is what the person is seeking from us.

 

There is also great wisdom to be found on the advice frontier from support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon.  Members are taught to share their “experience, strength, and hope” rather than their advice when working with others who are still suffering. Addiction to our own negative thinking has a way of making us all members of the “still suffering” whether we consider ourselves addicts or not. Key to their approach is valuing and respecting other people, recognizing that “we are all equals, but we are not the same” (Al-Anon’s Twelves Steps & Twelve Tradition).

 

When operating from the belief that others are equal but not the same as us, we are less likely to impose our advice on them.

 

But habits are often difficult to break.  And advice giving is no different.  To prevent us from slipping back into automatic advice mode, Katie suggests asking ourselves three-questions: “Am I in their business? Did they ask me for my advice? And, more importantly, can I take the advice I am offering and apply it to my life?”

 

A motif common to all the advice-busting techniques presented here is time.  When feeling the urge to give unsolicited advice, pause and take a moment to consider its pitfalls. That momentary “time out” is all you need to apply the technique that will help bring about the greatest good for each person —friend, family, or colleague—who has honored you by confiding in you.

 

In sharing this blog with you, I hope I haven’t violated my own intentions.  It seems that it’s an inescapable irony that in writing about unsolicited advice that I have given it.  But it is my hope that by joining me in this article, that you have implicitly given me permission to share these insights and techniques regarding uninvited advice.  You may find that as you become more sensitive and skillful in helping those who have confided in you, that they may return the favor.

If you would like to work one-on-one on with me concerning an issue that is robbing you of your happiness such as depression, anxiety, relationships, negative thoughts, or esteem, contact me.  I’m at rjhandley.com.  Google my name if you’d like to find out more about me.

Kind Regards,

RJ Handley, Life Coach