The Power of Intention

Barbara Bowen, LCSW

There is a man I know that is longing to re-establish a loving relationship with his angry, teenage daughter. She's reeling from the divorce: that he left, the way he left, that he asked her how she felt, and in spite of her hopes and wishes, left anyway.

He's reading volumes. He tries hard to always say the right thing. He reads her paragraphs that resonate with him, hoping she will see the light. But she becomes furious when he brings his books and lists. She wants what he is trying too hard to get--a real relationship.

So I say to him, "don't bring paper; don't read from your notes. Be there with you best intention. Allow yourself to hear her, respond to her from your heart, your hopes and your dreams. Connect with her."

He's like a lot of us. We sometimes try too hard to say the right thing, "to do it right". We strive for success and fear failure; we want to put our best foot forward, hoping that if nothing goes wrong with our performance, we will win what we want so much. Taking the time to think about what we want to say is important. But when all our focus is on saying it right, it's easy to miss how much power we have to get where we want to be if we put our whole-hearted intention into our efforts. Getting hung up on having to say it the right way, or holding back because we fear we won't express it well, leads to missed opportunities for gaining what we often most desire: being heard, being understood, and making connections with others.

I'm thinking of a very successful friend of mine whom I often admire because she speaks intelligently and succinctly and can get to the point quickly and precisely. At a brainstorming meeting regarding business development we both attended, she had many good ideas which she presented easily and clearly. But the idea that impressed me the most and that I still remember clearly today was expressed in a halting, unsure manner. She started by saying "I don't know how to say this in a way that makes sense, I don't know exactly what I mean, but its something about being grounded and true to your own beliefs, and letting people know about what it really means to you." Someone in the group said that it was about having passion. Everyone knew that was what she meant, and as a group we decided to put it at the top of the list.

Over and over I find examples of how by speaking from the heart, from our beliefs and intentions, we are heard more clearly than with the careful words we choose. Now I often find myself saying to those well-meaning, tongue-tied clients that I see, "I believe in the power of intention. Don't worry so much about saying it right. Go with your whole hearted intention, just open your mouth and speak..."

 

©2005-2012 Barbara Bowen, Chinn Street Counseling Center; all rights reserved.