I have heard the word “intention” mentioned in three different contexts over the past few days. This can’t be coincidence. There’s clearly something I’m meant to explore. It’s another one of those occasions where I have taken a rather long and protracted route to arrive at a common psychological concept, this being we are more likely to do that which we intend to do –

And that stating it makes it real.

During my last treatment programme, I started to notice that I was wary of putting thoughts and hopes into words. It was partly a trust issue (I no longer believed myself); partly because I didn’t want to be accountable (don’t say it, don’t have to do it); but, most often, because it all seemed futile – and what was the point of just words? I was scared of articulating something in case it didn’t work – and, sometimes, in case it did.

What I’m now beginning to realise, is that the articulation – whether in words, or images, or a headful of dreams – is the first, vital step. The destination may remain hazy and the journey, unknown; but putting it into words seems to help me begin.

This is far more subtle, I think, than goal setting. It’s like planting the seeds – giving them room to grow – and allowing yourself to see what happens. No judgements. No internal “all talk and no action” dialogue. No “but I might jinx myself” type thinking. Just the opportunity for a little discussion – and exploration – and the somewhat magical process from abstract idea to living thing.

So all that talk that I did before stopping bingeing and purging? That was intention setting and not, as I worried at the time, setting myself up for a fall. And, the dream diary that I wrote on squeaky hospital sheets and seemed somewhat ridiculous, given the circumstances? Well, maybe the fact that a lot of it came true was not just a bizarre coincidence – but because I gave the vision a place to exist.

The date-setting and dialogue around my last cigarette might have felt a little unbelievable, at the time – but whatever it injected into the process, certainly seems to have made it real. And, the chatter that’s currently going on around my ‘next steps’ is not, as my head likes to taunt, “a waste of breath Melissa, and words without any substance”; but is, instead, the pencil sketch of an ambition that will help me identify where I want to be.

This is, I think, what is meant by intention. Not a list of actions that I will be held accountable to, nor a strategy (yet) that will get me from A to B. Just the planting of a seed – and a vague glimmer of what B will look like – and an idea that your subconscious can mull over and then steer you towards…

Which makes the talking and dreaming part of the process; and takes the hows, and whys, and whens out of the equation (temporarily) -

Because, in the naming of an intention, the answers are already growing in your head.

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3 Responses to “Intentions”

  1. Evan says:

    Hi Melissa, I really like that distinction between intention and goal setting. I like how it takes out the setting ourselves up to fail aspect. Thanks.

  2. Melissa says:

    We had a debate about it at the pub! I always thought it was a miracle how things came true that you’d dreamt of – but the dream is the goal set in your head!

  3. James says:

    So true: name the intention and you’ve expressed a wish and are more likely to go and get it. I’m finding that when I put things in motion – ignore those ‘jinx’ worries and forget fears about expectation – my intentions are more likely to be realised.

    Great stuff as ever!