The Power of Intention

What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

A new year rolls around and we find ourselves looking back, assessing, and then turning our attention towards setting resolutions . . .

And in the weeks and months that follow, we do our best to accomplish those resolutions, but life gets in the way . . . one day we realize that we can’t or haven’t met our goals. A process of rumination and self-deprecation follows and then, guilt sets in. And we’re reduced to feeling like a failure. Sound familiar?

I’m not a believer in resolutions because the above scenario has played out for me far too many times. Resolutions don’t allow for the cultivation of self-compassion. I realized that resolutions were an invitation for failure, because we hold tight and fast to them without sensitivity to the fluctuations in our needs or who we’re becoming, which can and does change over time.

Examining this cycle in more detail, I discovered that resolutions are a mind trip. They’re essentially a mental process of goal setting based on culturally derived obligations and expectations, mostly directed at external circumstances. They have nothing to do with our internal process or the fullest expression of our being.

Setting intentions, instead of resolutions, will help set us free . . .

An intention is based on an internal process that explores what motivates us . . . who do we want to become? Intention is driven, not by mental faculties alone, but by our body, the feeling center, and our spirit, the center of our creativity; it accounts for the needs of our heart and soul. It doesn’t push us to get to the gym in the wee hours of the morning, when what most nurtures us today is a little extra sleep. It creates the acceptance necessary to be gentle, kind, and to listen deeply to our inner wisdom.

Focused on being in the present moment mindfully, intentions help manifest the fullest expression of our Self now, rather than on some external result we may be trying to achieve . . . out there, down the road. An intention considers the person we’re becoming internally, holistically and how we utilize all our capabilities, talents, and gifts at our disposal.

Intention is awareness directed towards the totality of our being as we manifest our full potential.

Intention invites us to be fully alive from moment to moment so we can alleviate suffering on an ongoing basis, instead of at some point in the future, when for example, we’re ten pounds slimmer or no longer in credit card debt or we’ve let go of that nagging toxic relationship – whatever our mind believes is holding us back. The awareness that we’re becoming, gives intentions the power to change over time, to evolve into something more supportive, as opposed to a resolution, which expects an adherence that only lends itself to feeling like we’ve made mistakes.

Isn’t it time to stop the negative cycle and practice self-compassion? Perhaps this is the year we allow ourselves to use intentions to reveal our soul, rather than resolutions to reveal our suffering.