Sonya Thomas lcsw

Setting Intentions

As 2016 comes to end, and we embark on a new year, now is a good time to consider setting intention(s) for yourself.  What is an intention?  Intentions are what you want to manifest. Authentic and powerful intentions do not try to manipulate or control others or their behavior.   Your intention is YOUR call to action- “I am…”, “My intention is…”. “I now..”, etc.  A meaningful intention is sincere and promotes your personal well-being.  It represents the end result you want to achieve. It is not a “to do” list, but more so directs your choices and your energy.  You should feel that your intention is achievable and believable.  A stretch is good, however, too much of a stretch is self-defeating.   You may experience some emotional resistance (especially in the beginning), however, this is usually your ego getting in your way!  Remember, change is hard for most of us.  Since your intention is most achievable if is believable to you, do not use the words “always” or “never” because that is unrealistic.  Also, avoid the word “should” because it has an obligatory essence versus and expansive energy.   Clarity is important. Exactly what do you want your experience to look and feel like?   The best intentions are clear and concise.

When doing couples therapy, I ask clients to reflect on the below questions as a jumping off point to set an intention:

  • What does my relationship need from me?  This is different than (though can include) what does partner my need from me.  When you think about healthy relationships, what are the ingredients?  Certainly selfishness, self-absorption and demands to always have your needs met perfectly are not part of the mix.  So maybe you want to set an intention around managing your emotions and reactivity when things do not go your way.  Or perhaps you can set an intention around being willing to be inconvenienced with a little more grace or humility.  Maybe your relationship actually needs you to be less giving.  It might actually function with more parity if you looked at the ways in with you over- function.
  • What is my highest self calling me to stretch towards?  Think about you, manifesting your highest, most evolved self.  What does that look like?  Perhaps you can set an intention around meditating, or being giving, or practicing kindness.  Attuning to and expressing what you feel in the moment, in a way that is non-shaming or blaming, is a stretch that you may want to make.
  • What are the blocks that get in the way of me being the person/partner I want to be?  This is where you can get really serious about addressing your own personal growth edges.  If you have a tendency to think of yourself first, perhaps you can set an intention around considering how your actions/choices might effect others.  If you have a tendency towards withdrawal, then an intention around being more mentally and emotionally present might be in order.  If attuned listening is a challenge for you, try setting an intention to listen with curiosity versus listening to respond or refute.

Setting intentions is one of the steps along the path of personal and/or relational transformation.  It is helpful to reflect on what you want to change in yourself, and then set an intention around it.  Remind yourself of that intention often.  And keep practicing.  Remember what they say in AA, progress, not perfection.

Until next time, peace.