The Power of Intention and the Art of Commitment

The Power of Intention and the Art of Commitment

The Union Path Podcast

"The Power of Intention and the Art of Commitment"

Episode Transcript:

Looking back looking back at my youth, it's kind of funny to realize and appreciate how much easier it was to believe in things, how much more open I was, how much more willing I was to try, how much more risk tolerant I was, how much just willing to live, willing to try, willing to go for it, willing to really be what I wanted, willing to do what I wanted. Of course this is a natural part of the maturation process where we become more discerning over time. It's of course as we learn more, as we observe more, as we experience more, our discernment grows as well. We're not as haphazard, we're not as clumsy, we become more refined, we become more able to see things for what they really are. But the unfortunate downside of gathering all this information, all this experience, is that it can turn us a bit cynical and can turn us a bit negative. It can turn us into a bit of a critic of our own life. We're not really so much engaged in doing new things anymore. We become more engaged on the commentary of new things. We form much harder opinions much earlier about what's likely to work and what's likely not to work. That when we absorb this mind of the critic, we can orient ourselves to fault, to the negative, to looking for all the ways that something could fail or let us down or be wrong. And it's not that these observations aren't true. But especially when there are stakes involved, especially when we have responsibilities, especially when we have a lot of momentum carrying us in a certain direction, creating change, seemingly, can feel harder and harder. It can feel like there's more to move around. It can feel like transitions become far more difficult, not only because there are more resources involved, more relationships involved, more circumstances involved, but can feel really complicated because of all that.

We know that actually become easier for us to find fault as our knowledge grows, as our experience grows. And the thing is, no matter what change or contemplating, there's always fault there. Fault is inescapable. Even the best plans we get, possibly craft, there's still something wrong with them, there's still some flaw, there's still some risk, there's still something that could go totally wrong. And if we've been hurt before, if we've experienced failure before, if we've suffered before which of course, all of us have it can be easy to adopt a stance of trying to avoid these uncomfortable feelings, trying to avoid these uncomfortable experiences which can lock us into a course of action that we don't really want, but because it's known, because we've learned how to manage it, we've learned how to cope with it, we've learned how to deal with it. We maintain it because at least it's known. We can watch our lives get smaller and smaller as we watch our own perspective get smaller and smaller If we lock ourselves in to only repeating things we've done in the past, because they're known, because they feel more safe, because they don't trigger our fear, they don't trigger our discomfort, they don't trigger our skepticism.

But at the same time, it's really easy, with a mindset like this, to severely limit our own options, to limit our own potential, and one of the other things we can do is we can wait to really commit to anything until it shows us that it's going to be successful. But there's a bit of a paradox here that typically it's been my experience that the things that I do that are the most successful are the things I believe in, and that belief actually had to come first. That belief was a prerequisite to the success I experienced. But if I'm waiting for success before I believe, then this sets up a stalemate that waiting for evidence negates belief, which is needed to create the evidence that I'm looking for, and thus I experience stagnation because I'm not really committing to anything. I'm waiting for the results to tell me what to commit to. I'm waiting for the data to come in before I really commit to something, which usually just leaves me standing on the periphery. It keeps me from really investing in anything, really investing myself in anything, really doing anything fully, because I'm waiting to see if it's going to be successful or not. But typically the things that are the most successful are the things that I've invested myself in fully. So I've set up a paradox, I've set up an impossible riddle to solve, because if I'm waiting for evidence of success before I believe but it requires belief to create success in the first place then I've just trapped myself on a hamster wheel. I've locked myself into a cul-de-sac to just keep going around and around and around, waiting for something that requires me to do the thing.

I'm waiting for that, in order for any change to be created, we have to make the first move. We can't wait for life to tell us exactly what we're supposed to do and when we're supposed to do it. Of course we can take the experience of our life. Of course we can consider what we know, consider what we want. All of that matters. We should, of course, be aware of what happens to us and what is happening to us and what has happened to us, but we have to make the first move. We have to claim the change that we want to create in order for that change to really be set in motion. This is one of the areas where fear or doubt or insecurity can be particularly harmful, because it can force us, it can convince us and manipulate us to wait, to defer, to pause, when what we really should be doing, what we really want is to act, is to try, is to make an attempt, is to make a full-throated attempt to create the change that we want to create.

But in my experience anyway, the times where I've waited for the evidence to tell me what I should or shouldn't do, that evidence is often very unsatisfying. It's very murky and inconclusive and, plus, whatever meaning I'm applying to this evidence I made up. Those are just ideas that I had. These ideas of positive, reassuring evidence are just things I've chosen to believe in, I've chosen to value, and that not in a delusional or fantasy type way. But I can choose to believe something is successful whenever I want. I can choose to believe something will be successful whenever I want. I can choose to believe the change that I want is going to happen is assured whenever I want. It doesn't mean I know how it's going to happen. It doesn't mean I know when it's going to happen. In fact, I have to acknowledge it'll probably happen with a means and a timing that I'm not even considering.

But the problem is, the issue is the resistance, is the waiting, the deferring. They're not doing something because I'm waiting for the evidence that I'm doing the right thing, that I don't have the belief, because I'm waiting for the situation to tell me it's worthy of believing in, but I won't actually get the evidence that I want. I won't actually get the change that I want until I believe in it and that, no matter what kind of change I'm trying to create, at some point I really have to ask myself do I believe in this thing or not? Am I really acting with intent? Am I really doing things on purpose or am I waiting? Am I hedging my bets? Am I playing it safe? Am I just doing the thing that looks like it might be successful, rather than the thing?

I actually believe in, because this can cause us to construct a life full of things we don't actually believe in. That our belief can be co-opted by evidence. Our belief can be co-opted by things we think we should value. We look into our life and we can gather evidence that things seem to be working. But it's important to ask ourselves well, how does our life actually feel? What do we actually want? Is our life in service of abstinence, or is our life in service of something else, something greater, something more meaningful, something deeper, something richer, something more real, something more palpable, because we're doing things, because they seem like they work. Is that enough? Is that the life we want? A life that seems like it's good, seems like it's worthy of living, should be the life we want, should be the life we value, or do we want to actually live a life that is the life we want, that is the life we value that? Our experience of our life is self-evident. We can check in with ourselves whenever we want and ask ourselves how does my life actually feel to me? Is this actually good? Is this actually what I want? Is this actually serving me? Am I actually of service to what I care about? And when I look at my action, when I look at what I actually do, when I look at how I invest my energy, my time, my resources, my attention, my focus, my passion, my enthusiasm. Are these things I actually believe in? Am I making investments and putting energy toward what should be good, or am I making investments and putting energy toward what is good? Am I doing what I believe is right, what I believe is true, or am I overemphasizing other people's opinions, other people's ideas of what's right and what's true, what's worthy of doing, what's valuable? Because in order to really create lasting change, at some point we have to commit to that change, and the bigger the change, the more fully we need to commit to it. The only way to fully commit to anything is to align our actions with our true beliefs, with what actually matters to us, with what we actually want. There's no escaping it. It's as long as we're making investments and putting action and effort towards things that don't actually really matter that deeply to us, we'll be setting up a conflict. We won't be living as our full selves. We'll be living as a bit of a split personality. We'll be acting out of a self that's doing things because we think it should be good. We're leaving the behind, the larger part of us that knows the truth, and it's been my experience anyway, the way that I've truly created change.

What really kicked off that change, what really made a difference, was commitment. It was belief that I had to believe in the change first before I could create it. I had to believe in myself before I could create the change that I wanted to create. That, as long as I was waiting to believe, waiting to commit, just locked me in this stagnation pattern. It held things off, it held things away, but more than that, it caused me to hold back. It caused me to not do things fully. It caused me to overemphasize doing things that were safe, that doing things that seemed like they would be acceptable to someone else, rather than doing what I knew was right.

I wasn't really acting with full integrity because I wasn't really being myself, I wasn't really being my true self, I wasn't really investing my whole self in what I was doing.

That I'd outsourced, I'd displaced, I'd projected my belief onto others, which I could never actually fully experience.

I could never actually fully reconcile in a set up patterns and periods of stagnation with an overwhelming feeling, which is one of waiting Waiting for things to change, waiting for things to be better, waiting for something to happen and I guess I've been fortunate enough to experience this enough times to experience this phenomenon of stagnation and waiting on a whole bunch of different circumstances where I really had to come to grips and really had to recognize that it can't always be the circumstance. That's the problem that if I keep experiencing the same thing, getting the same results, feeling the same way despite a myriad of different circumstances, then I think the problem or the issue might actually be me. I'm the common denominator in all these things. I keep kind of ending up at the same place, even though I try to pick radically different directions with what I'm doing. I go left, I go right, I go up, I go down, but I end up just walking in a circle back to the same place and I do that enough times that I really have to filing knowledge.

Okay, I think I'm the one doing this and that when I explore that a little bit more deeply, when I really sit with that awareness, I have to recognize that the core issue seems to be within the core of my own being, seems to be the direction that I'm creating inside myself. And that direction is being created by my own state, by my own outlook, by my own perspectives, by my own beliefs, by my own attitudes. That my path is being mapped by the energy that I'm walking that path with, by the expectations that I have, by the beliefs that I have, by the perspective that I have. That my ideas and beliefs about what I'm doing are coloring what I'm doing and thus leading me to the same outcome over and over again. That I may try different things, but I'm doing different things, the same way, the same approach, the same sort of energy, the same sort of beliefs, and thus being led back to the same place, thus being led on a circuitous journey. Then, no matter what direction I set off in, I seem to end up right back at the origin. And where I see this pattern play out most reliably are in the circumstances where I go into things without full belief, full confidence, full knowing.

I go into situations with doubt, waiting for the situations to assuage my doubt, waiting for the situations and the outcomes of those situations to reassure me, to give me confidence, to give me knowing, to give me faith. I'm delivered back to the same place where I started, which is an absence of these things. If I start with doubt, I'm led back to doubt. If I start with uncertainty, I'm led back to uncertainty. And of course, this doesn't mean that I should ignore reality and pretend that things aren't happening that are or that things are happening that aren't. But it's really more an internal decision, an internal choice choosing to have confidence, choosing to believe in something until proven otherwise. I can still gather evidence, I can still pay attention, I can still notice what's actually happening. In fact, I should absolutely do all of these things. I should live every day with awareness.

But where I really sabotage myself is when I start with doubt, start with uncertainty, start with a lack of confidence, start with a lack of faith that, no matter what I do, I'm the one that's actually leading, I'm the one that's actually choosing, and that, if I'm waiting for someone or something else to tell me what to do, to tell me what to value, to tell me what's good, to tell me what to believe in. I just end up back in the same place, because the person I'm actually waiting to hear from is myself. The confidence and the security and the faith that I'm waiting for is my own, and if something isn't really going and isn't really progressing, doesn't seem to really be doing anything, I have to ask myself, well, do I really believe in this, really, truly, checking in with myself, inquiring deeply, do I actually believe in what I'm doing? Do I actually believe this is good? Do I actually believe this is worthy? Do I actually believe this is worthwhile? Is this actually what I want? Is this actually something I value?

And if it is, then I need to commit. I need to choose to believe. And if it isn't, then, as hard as it may be, as difficult as it may be to find a way to actually do it, I need to let it go. I need to choose something else. I need to do something different, because the more time I spend trying to do something I don't actually believe in, the more I separate myself, the more I delay being able to do something I actually do, because whatever I'm doing that I don't believe in is taking up space that the thing I do believe in could occupy, that. What I actually want is being crowded out by maintaining fidelity to what I actually don't. And sometimes we'll find ourselves at a point where we keep doing things, trying to figure out what we want, trying to figure out what's important to us. We keep trying and trying, and trying and trying. Well, in those times it's important when we realize that we don't really believe in what we're doing.

None of this is really that important. None of this really feels like it's coming from within us that we're trying to get the world to tell us who and what we are. Those can be really useful times to let go, to allow ourselves the space, allow ourselves the grace to be confused, to not know, because those times of not knowing, those times of not being committed to something, are actually really valuable, can actually be really useful because those are the times of maximum possibility that, when we've committed to something, that choice to include that in our life is the simultaneous choice to not include a myriad of other possibilities, oftentimes all other possibilities. That the thing about commitment, the thing about belief, is that it naturally requires and utilizes focus. It naturally crowds out other options because we're focused on what we believe in, we're focused on what we committed to, we're focused on what we know, and so in those times where we don't know can be really productive, can be really useful to entertain possibility, to look around, to get to know ourselves, to try to understand what are we really trying to do here? What is our life really about? What really matters to us, what's actually important, what do we really care about, what do we really want? And be able to sit with these questions. Allow these questions to linger, allow these questions to be resident within us. Allow these questions to grow and expand and merge. Allow these questions to create a vacuum for which inspiration and clarity can enter, create a want, create a request to want to know what we want. Sometimes that's where we have to start. We may not know what we want, but we can at least know we want to know what we want. We can at least sit with that question and create the space for the answer to emerge. That's not nothing, in fact. If we haven't known what we want or haven't been working towards what we want for a while, that step can be absolutely vital, because that's the state in which we will embark on whatever we do next. That will be our setting off point. That will be a key wayfinding tool when we embark on our next journey To do the next thing, to create the next change, to build and experience the next chapter of our life, because we don't have to commit until we're ready. That's one of the other funny things we can do.

Our mind is going to play a bit of a trick on us that, if we realize that the important thing is to commit, have confidence to believe. We can actually use that as a cudgel to force ourselves to believe, or at least think we believe, something we don't, to build up some bluster, to build up some false confidence. But true confidence, true knowing, is quiet. True confidence and true knowing can't be faked. We either have it or we don't, and we know the difference.

And if part of our problem is that we've jumped into action a little bit too quickly, we've committed a little too quickly, we can give ourselves the grace wait to know that we'll know when we know, and to wait to act until we know, to know that that waiting time is an opportunity to really get clear, to really be able to focus and commit to something that is actually meaningful, rather than jumping at the first option across as our path. We can use this to live a life of intention, live a life of purpose, because we're choosing to live our life on purpose. We're choosing our path carefully. Our choices are precious, our focus and our commitment is precious and we treat them as such. But when we do know what we want, when we do know what we want to commit to, then that's the time to do so.

And if we have to work on our own doubt. We have to work on our own fear, we have to work on our own confidence. Well, that's our work and we can recognize that and do that. But once we decide, we make the decision to change, to go for what we actually want. Commitment and belief and faith are vitally important and we can choose. We can choose to commit and let all other options go. We can choose to have faith and jettison and relinquish our own doubt. We can choose to believe that what we're doing is right and good because we know what matters to us.

We know who we are, we know what we're doing, and we know what we're doing is the right thing for us. Take care, and all the best. Thank you.

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