Intention

January 14, 2012

I was thinking this morning that sometimes intention is everything and sometimes it doesn’t matter at all.

For example, if I’m bereaved and someone tries to comfort me and they say something I just don’t find helpful, if I perceive a real sincere intention from them to help, and they’re just clueless, I, at least, find myself comforted by that emotion of theirs, even if I recoil from their words.  And so, too, with other forms of help, even advice.

On the other hand, if someone is stepping on my toes, however well intentioned, it still hurts.  Actually, the example I had in mind is draining my energy, because that I find happens often inadvertently, probably due to my own make-up.  I am what some people label very permeable, and I pick up other people’s stuff really easily.  So, for example, after spending time interacting with someone, even someone I don’t really know (like a receptionist in a new doctor’s office), I’ll find myself doing something strangely foreign to me, like how I back up the car in the doctor’s office parking lot — my hands on the wheel feel different, I use an unfamiliar sequence of behaviors to turn and look out the rear window and for how and when I turn the wheel — it is not what I usually do.  I could override it if necessary, but I think the energy drain is not affected by that — I think that just as I’ve picked up some of the person, they’ve picked up some of me.  Which in and of itself I don’t think is a problem, but I think what happens is that if they then interact with people who use other people’s energy, while their own energy may remain safe and intact, mine will be pulled out by this third person, because I’m so porous and I have all kinds of energy that people apparently like.  And I can’t always easily draw in comfortably on my own enough fresh energy myself to replace what is being used, especially if I’m interacting with a lot of people who interact with a lot of people — I sometimes think that’s part of why people like contemplative nuns and hermits live secluded lives.

So, I have to be careful about how to respond to a person, when I should respond to intention and when I need to take account of the behavior regardless of intention.  Since lots of people’s belief systems don’t include ideas like porousness and energy exchanges, it can be tricky to try to arrive at a mutually agreeable way of interacting, since there may not be a way of explicitly communicating  about the issues.   But I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I just don’t care so much about what other people think — I’m not going to stand on ceremony while I get harmed, however inadvertently (and especially if the other person is blaming me for not being able to accommodate them), and if some embarrassment ensues, well, so be it — for me, the alternative may actually be far more deleterious.  But I will also say that my first choice is to try to work things out tactfully and without disturbing anyone, that’s Plan A.  I’m just not always that good at it.

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