The Importance of Intention

My husband does all the proofing of my writing. The other day he was proofing one of my Instagram posts. My husband says ‘It should say the intention, not your intention.’  When I explained to him that the word intention was being used as a verb he became confused.

That got me to wondering. How many people are reading my Instagram posts and wondering about what does intention mean when it is used as a verb. As we know verbs are used in a sentence to reflect some type of action. What does intention mean when it is used as a verb?

That is our topic for today.  What do we mean when we say “Set the Intention”  Setting the intention means silencing all the other noise in your head and focusing on a particular topic. An intention is a form of intense concentration.  When you say I set this intention, you are saying I am going to focus on this concept, idea or emotion.

In our example, we are setting our mind to writing about the topic of the day. As a result of setting our mind on this topic, our mind will focus on the topic. For this example, we could be discussing happiness. When you set your mind to thinking about happiness images, memories smells even can flood the mind. At that moment your mind is experiencing happiness.

At this moment when you feel the emotion is when you want to begin to write about the emotion.

The importance of ritual in journaling

A key aspect of journaling is preparing the mind and body to begin the process of being creative. Ritual is an important part of this process. Ritual is defined as completing a series of tasks in a particular order. Just as a ritual is used in religious ceremonies to set the mood,  a ritual can be used in journaling to set the mood for creativity. Rituals provide predictability. Once the ritual starts the attendees know what is coming next. The same could be said for journaling. Once the ritual of sitting down to write has begun the body knows how to proceed. In this way, the pump is primed for journaling.

Think back to the last time you heard the Star Spangled Banner at an event. How did you feel? Was there a rush of excitement knowing the event was about to begin?  The use of the Star Spangled Banner before sportings events signals to everyone listening take your seat it is time to begin. The next time you are at an event. Watch how people behave when the music starts. This is a ritual in action.  Another example of a ritual is saying a prayer before eating at the supper table.  We all have rituals in our lives that we use to signal certain behaviors. Harnessing the power of ritual for writing will help develop your creative muscles.

Rituals can be used to signal our brain that it is time to begin. When you create a ritual for journaling it prepares the mind and body to begin the creative process. Many famous writers will tell you they begin the process of writing the same way every time.

I recommended preparing a space for your writing. In this space, you don’t do anything else but write. It could be at a desk or near a favorite window. You want your space to be comfortable. Not to warm or too cold with as little distractions as possible.

In this space, you need to have your journal and writing utensils available. It defeats the purpose of having a ritual if you have to interrupt the ritual to go find a pencil or pen. Provide an area in this space to have everything you need at hand.  Try to write at the same time every day.

Try this for a few weeks and let me know how it works for you. If you need more ideas for journaling, check me out on Instagram.

Culture and Counseling

When I am working with a client it is important for me to understand their family rules.  Not only do we have a culture from our families ethnicity and area of the country upon which we grew up. Each family has a culture or if it’s easier to understand the family rules. Some families are patriarchal. This means the father is the head of the household. He will be the one who hands out discipline upon the children. He will be the one that makes the decisions for the good of the family. Some families are matriarchal. In matriarchal families the mother is the head of the household. She is the one that is the decision maker. She will be the one that hands out the discipline upon the children.

In terms of culture the other information that I would need to know in working with a client is what are the rules for emotions. Some families are emotion absent, meaning that emotions are not allowed. If emotions are allowed, it is usually only positive emotions. Some families are emotionally reactive, meaning that emotions are exaggerated,  and explosive. In these types of families each person is busy reacting to another’s person’s emotions. Many families are on the spectrum between these types of families.

In understanding how we behave in groups whether it be at work or in relationships we need to understand our own family culture. We carry these unspoken rules into our workplaces, relationships with spouses, and friends. When conflict comes up in these relationships, the solution can often be found in our cultural family background.

The first step in understanding your family culture is asking yourself,  “Did I grow up in a matriarchal family or a patriarchal family?” You may have to dig a little deep into your history to determine this. This question is about power. Who had the power in the family to make decisions?

The second step in understanding your family culture is asking yourself, “Was my family emotionally absent or emotionally reactive?”  Once you have determined whether your family culture was emotionally absent or reactive, ask yourself, “What am I?” Do I under react or over react. It can be the same as your family culture. Most of times it is not the same.

Once you have determined whether your family was matriarchal or patriarchal, emotionally absent or reactive, you can determine how these cultural behaviors manifest in your own behaviors.  Understanding your own behaviors is critical if you want to understand other’s. People often react to other’s  based off their own beliefs about how they should behave. Do you want to learn not to react?  Study your own family culture, learn from it, and understand that because it was learned means it can be unlearned.

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What does it mean to be authentic?

Do you know what it means to be authentic? I didn’t for a very long time. When I first graduated from school with my Master’s Degree I was told “Not to give away so much of myself.” What did that even mean? I had no idea. I continued being me as I gathered experience and worked on becoming a better counselor for my clients. My friends, coworkers, and clients describe me as honest, direct, and straight forward.

When I moved to the South, they told me “Cristi, you are so country.” Again, this terminology kept showing up about what many were considering a character flaw. In some ways it is a character flaw. For social relationships are often dependent on tact, indirectness, and being fake. In reality most people don’t want to hear your truth. Try this experiment the next time someone asks you “How are you?” Answer them honestly. If you are having a bad day, say so. Missing someone, say so. Now, watch the reaction of the person asking the question. How does their facial expression change? Do they change the subject? Do you feel heard?

Most of the time the person asking the question looks confused. Wondering if they heard you right? There were asking a question that social norms dictate. They did not want an honest answer.

Being authentic means to answer the question in the moment. No more no less. For example, you could say it has been a bad day, how was yours? That is being authentic. You were honest. There are those people, who take it one step farther and explain why it has been a bad day. This is oversharing. Think of it this way. The person asked, “How are you?” Not, “Why are you having a bad day?” Big difference between the two.

Being authentic means being true to you. For me it comes a naturally as breathing. I don’t have to think about how to be authentic. I just am. For others it is harder. For a deeper, closer relationship with others it is imperative to be authentic.

Working with me as your counselor means I will always be honest with you. Many of clients report to me that this is the quality they most value in our counseling relationship. I have learned it is one of the greatest assets I bring to my counseling. I am here to help you, not judge you. I can only do that by being authentic. I laugh to myself when I think about that first counseling supervisor that tried to tell me to not be authentic. I can only be who I am, and I am authentic.                                                      blue-button-close-up-1176618 Photo by Julia Kuzenkov from Pexels Continue reading “What does it mean to be authentic?”