We can all benefit from being a bit more intentional.
Intentional in our thoughts, intentional in our actions and intentional with our relationships. I recently wrote about how saying no more often could be a benefit to you and your family. Intentional thinking is like that. It takes the notion of saying no a little further.
Being clear and direct with your intentions is setting a personal boundary that is about self-care and living authentically. We will always be challenged by life’s obstacles and the pace at which we live.
I have to constantly work to be intentional with my thoughts, actions and energy. When I don’t take the time to check in with myself I find that I am living for other people’s intentions or accommodating someone else’s value/belief system. I have to ask myself, what kind of mom do I want to be today? next week? How do I want others to respond to me? What can I do better? What are my hopes for my family today and in 10 years? Are my husband and I taking enough time to focus on our relationship? I know many people that do daily guided meditations or devotionals, some use their yoga practice to set intention and stay grounded, others use various forms of mindfulness (intention is arguably a facet of mindfulness, depending on who you ask or what you read). Figure out what works for you. I’m still trying to figure out my own work-life balance as a new (ish) mom, between logistical time constraints and navigating new roles in our family I haven’t found a yoga practice, daily devotional or mediation that I can stick with. What works for me is taking a couple of minutes, alone, every morning to set my intentions. My intentions are simple, Lead with love. Practice patience and practice gratitude. When I remind myself to do these three things, my perception of everyone around me changes. I’m more centered.I have more empathy for others and am less hard on myself.
So why is intention important?
Because it can keep you grounded. Grounded in your values, goals and hopes for the future. Our culture revolves around constantly tackling goals and meeting milestones. Not to mention the large cultural discourse that is constantly placing unsolicited expectations on us about what defines professional success, healthy adjusted children, relationship “goals,” and a life cycle timeline of when its appropriate to realize certain milestones — just to name a few! Using intention as a daily part of your routine can keep you grounded and rooted in what is important to YOU- not everyone else. The power of intention is also that its a reminder to focus on what you can ACTUALLY change.
Is there a difference between intention and mindfulness?
Define intention anyway you want, I think it’s a notion that applies across a number of contexts. Intention is action. Mindfulness is awareness. Mindfulness is about more awareness than action. I feel more authentic and grounded when I can count on myself to act and to act intetionally. I allow intention to ground me, I allow it to simplify my energy and create space for emotional experience and relationships.
How can intention impact my family?
In a highly reactive culture it sometimes feels like we don’t have control. Intention is controlling your responses and the energy you put into relationships. Sharpening your intentions and becoming more thoughtful in your interactions can directly impact your family and relationships. Clear and direct intentions create an emotional climate in a family that welcomes the full range of emotional expression. A supervisor once asked me what my goals were for the summer. I said, “Work on my marriage, start eating healthier and exercising, grow my private practice, start trying for a baby, take three trips, train my dog to be a service dog, and run a marathon.” He laughed— good luck! His advice was to simplify my goals and be more intentional; he also had the idea that in general, we can only be great at a handful or less things at once. We simply don't have the resources to excel at everything, all the time. You can only do so many things at once. So, I decided to focus on three things instead of a bucket list of things. Simplifying my intentions allowed me to focus on what I could realistically accomplish and accomplish well. We can’t do it all- and if you're trying to, it might be at the expense of the feelings of those around you.
Find the three things you can focus on for the remainder of the year. Do those things well. Then reassess. Practice intention and make it a habit.
Lead with love. Practice patience and practice gratitude.
To schedule an appointment with Caroline Harris, LMFT-Associate, call 512-915-3063.