Withholds and Beyond
Part 1 – Communication is a function of intention. What’s your intention?
In our culture we tend to mystify that which is beyond words. We often treat words as a kind of limitation. And in some ways they are. Yet, what we are missing in that viewpoint is how words function to reveal the world. I love how the poet Rainer Maria Rilke emphasizes things that happen when we speak that don’t happen anywhere else in the universe. We actually give something when we speak. To speak is a unique kind of creation that doesn’t happen any anywhere else than with human beings. I just love how he captures that in his poetry.
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This leads us directly into the topic at hand.
I originally started writing this piece wanting to give some structure around how to share withholds, and once I started thinking about it I realized I needed to do this topic real service – as it is the thing that can open us or zap our vitality . It has everything to do with how we communicate. It has everything to do with being upset, and how we respond when we are upset. In other words, this is a big deal for all of us. It’s important.
In this first section I want us to consider intention.
Consider that right now you have an intention. Your reading and attending to what you are reading. And that attention, the quality of it, of what you are attending to, is given by your intention.
So if your intention right now is to learn, then your attention will be directed on what I am saying and trying to comprehend the information given here. Or if your intention is to get laid, most likely your attention is on another website.
Your intention directs your attention. And what I want to present to you, and have you consider, is that there is never a place, never a time, where you are not intending – even when you’re unintentional.
That is the nature of what it is to be a human being – we reach and stretch toward, we create meaning.
Where that really comes across, and where our intention really is expressed, is in how we communicate. You could say that communication itself is a function of intention. So at the root of trying to understand communication, upsets and withholds – we need to understand intention.
The question here is: how can I begin to speak in a way where I’m true to myself (being and discovering myself in response to you), while being upset or even hating you (in a worst case scenario), in such a way that in that interaction what we both experience an end result of us being closer rather than us killing each other?
What is the difference that makes the difference that has that happen?
How can we come together in discord and open inside of that? How can we communicate in such a way that at the end of that conversation not only is our relationship better, but also, I am more “I” and you are more “Thou”?
This is a very unique way of being-with people.
Most upsets go like this: I’m pissed. It’s your fault. Fuck you. I’m going to hurt you, but I’m not going to take responsibility for hurting you because I’m just responding to what you did to me. You attacked me and I’m going to counter attack. Victim self-righteousness is the paradigm – if you look around the planet – close and far – you will see that this is the paradigm most are living by.
I think we will find that a lot of this behavior comes from what we are unconscious of, and a lot of that unconsciousness is expressed through our intentions.
So, I want to see if we can really get behind and underneath the importance of intention.
I once lead a course about transformation and finances. It was an intense transformational course about money.
In the course I asked everyone this question: “What are the 2 components, when they are together, creates a result? In other words, what does it take to create a result?”
The answer: intention + mechanism = result.
Makes sense. There’s allot behind an intention and there’s a lot behind a mechanism, but when you get the right mechanism to fulfill an intention then you get a result. Everyone got that.
Then I asked them this question: “If 100% was the result, then how much of the responsibility of the result (%-wise) lies in the intention and how much lies in the mechanism? Is it 50% intention and 50% mechanism? Or 80% and 20%?….?” Everyone had a different answer.
So I told them, as an exercise, that I thought the answer was 0% mechanism and 100% intention equals a result. The room was quiet for a minute, and then everyone got really uncomfortable and started speaking up, and disagreeing.
So I said, “Ok, I’m going to prove it to you!” And I cleared out all the chairs and had all 50 participants go to the other side of the room. Then I told them, “Here’s your intention, to get to the other side of the room (result). But each of you has to use a different mechanism to get there.” You can imagine what happened – each person found a different way to get across the room. Some crawled, scooted, rolled, every-which way they each got to the other side of the room. At the end, we all sat down and agreed – if you’re truly clear about your intention then there are a million mechanisms to get there. If your intentions are clear, you’ll find a way.
Then I asked this very interesting question, and I’m going to ask you the same question now – “Where do we look to know what our intentions are? Where do we look in our lives that will point us to what our genuine intentions are? “ The room was quiet for a bit, then one guy spoke up, “Well you look at your results!”
Since its 100% intention, then all I have to do is look at my results to know what my intention is. That was good with everyone for about one minute, then everyone in the room started squirming and getting uncomfortable. Hands started going up, and people were like, “Wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense! I’m poor and I didn’t intend to be poor!” Or, “I’ve been divorced 6 times and I didn’t intend to be divorced 6 times!” All this understandable angst about the idea started pouring into the room.
So I went up to the front of the room and said, “Lets see how we can understand this”, and started to draw a big iceberg on the chalkboard.
Most of the iceberg was underwater, and maybe only 10% of it was about the waterline. I drew an arrow to the part that was above the water, and I said, “That’s conscious”, and then I pointed to the submerged part (the other 90%) and said, “we’ll call this part down here the unconscious.” So the majority of what goes on with us (90%) is unconscious.
Think about it, if you had to hold everything that was happening all the time in your conscious mind it would be too much. So we have this great thing – the unconscious. It gives us the freedom to focus our conscious mind because its busy taking care of everything in the background. That’s great, but the problem is some of those things in the background have a huge influence . For example, my conscious intention is to make a lot of money, but what if I have an unconscious intention to be safe and to not get hurt? But if I’m not aware of this unconscious intention, then it will thwart and cut me off from taking the kinds of risks it would take to make a lot of money.
Another common example is late for things. For a lot of folks it’s a big deal to be on time. I doubt that most people would ever have a conscious intention to be late. Yet, for those people who are insistently late, they may unconsciously need to be “important” or to be “free”, which drives their behavior. If they arrive late they will stand out as more importent, special, and free of being dominated by the rules. So someone could have a conscious intention to be on time, and unconsciously they will keep finding a way to be late. This, of course, doesn’t cover the whole truth of the matter – but we can at least start to get the point.
If you really want to know what your intentions are, start to look at the results in your life. Look at what you have and what you don’t have. Look at all the things you say you want but can’t seem to get. What’s really going on there? What I’m saying is that there is something underneath the waterline that is in conflict with what you want consciously.
The reason, again, why I am emphasizing intention, is that communication is a function of intention.
When I looked up the etymology of the word intention the dictionary pointed me to “attend”. To attend is to “direct ones mind or energies”. To “expect, wait for, pay attention, to give heed to, to stretch toward, to create a stretching tension”. Attend = “to stretch, the notion of stretching ones mind towards something.”
It’s our intention that directs our at-tention.
So if it’s my intention to get laid and I go to a party, then where is my attention going to be? – on all the girls. If it’s my intention to be safe and I go out into the wilderness, then my attention is going to be on anything that could be dangerous. Where someone else many have a very different intention – say to enjoy the beauty – their attention is going to be on the trees and the stars…you get what I’m talking about here.
Continuing my investigation of the root of the word intention – the dictionary also directs me to another part of the word – tenant – which means “principal, properly, a thing held to be true”. “To hold, to keep, to maintain, to stretch and to hold so as to cause to maintain”. So the root of the word has two elements – an element about holding and an element about stretching.
So, to intend, is to hold something inside myself – now what I’m holding seems to make a big difference in what I say and how I am.
When I speak something to you, I’m simaltaneously holding (intention) and stretching (attending). So there seems to be this element of holding and stretching this holding through speaking it into existence.
Now, All speaking always presupposes a listener. So I’m stretching towards you (the listener) so that you can hold, or help hold this thing into existence.
So, basically, what are you holding in your life? What are the things you’re holding and stretching towards? I’ll bet if you truly ask yourself those questions consciously you’d say things like, “I’m intending to learn, improve, grow, be self expressed etc”. Or “To be happy, joyous, loved etc..”
However, if we look at our results, and ask ourselves, are they consistent with our intentions? I’m not saying that we will ever be totally consistent, I doubt any of us ever will be – but there are degrees of alignment and clarity here.
So what’s going on where we are not aligned and congruent?
I must be holding something and stretching to maintain something that is outside of my awareness.
Communication is a function of intention. What’s your intention?
So, communication is a stretching towards and wanting you (the listener) to hold something. Yet the medium of all this is just words, just rhythms of sounds, right? Well then, why can you simply say something to a person and it resulting in deep life altering pain…? It’s kind of weird when you think about it like that. How is it that you can just point some noise at me and I can feel either completely damaged or ecstatic after that – what’s going on with this?
Think about the conversations in your life that really hurt. We’ve all had them. They just said stuff.. it’s not like they hit us in the face. But they hit us in the heart in some way, or we experienced that.
How do we manage to do that?
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