Have you ever been in a conversation where someone smiled, acted polite, and used all of the politically correct phrasing… but something just felt off?
Or have you ever said yes to someone’s request, when you really wanted to say, “no”?
Intention – the driving force behind what we say, think, feel, and do.
The way we communicate with others and the way we move through the world is motivated by an intention. In my teens and early twenties, my intention was 1) to be liked/accepted & 2) to protect myself. Generally speaking, anything I did or said was driven by option 1 or option 2.
What do you notice about 1) a desire to be accepted and liked vs. 2) a desire to protect myself from disappointment, rejection, and heartache?
Here’s an example of how this would play out:
I want this person to like me, so I’m going to go out of my way to help them with their work. Surely, they will appreciate the gesture and want to hangout with me this weekend.
A week goes by.
That b*tch! My mom warned me about her. She’s too self-involved to see how generous I was. I saw her post those pictures of her hanging out with other people, and she didn’t even call me.
Oh. She’s calling me now. Well TOO LATE SISTER. You should’ve called me Saturday. You should’ve known this is what I wanted from you. So, now – I don’t want to talk to you.
An intention to be liked or accepted, at all costs to our personal well being, can lead to feeling forgotten or victimized.
An intention to protect ourselves, from ever getting hurt by anyone EVER, can lead to cutoff behaviour or passive aggression.
The desire to please, or protect, can be strong when we are dealing with lovers, friends, co workers, or employers. There are rules, spoken and unspoken that can set expectations on how we “should” treat others, or how we “should” be treated.
The clearest intention we can set in any given situation is to speak our truth, as lovingly, compassionately, or as graciously as possible. The adjective might change based on your personality or your relationship, but the desire to be seen and heard is one that is innately human.
The way to truly be seen is to show up fully as ourselves. The way to truly be heard is to speak our whole truth.
This daily practice requires courage. In the face of speaking our truth, we may face losing relationships. In the light of living our truth, we might have to look at parts of ourselves we would rather not see. When in doubt, I turn to Maya Angelou’s take on courage.
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage one cannot practice any virtue consistently. We can be kind, generous, just, courteous, and merciful sporadically, but to display those virtues, consistently, calls for an enormous display of courage.”