As we celebrate the start of a new year in January, so often the focus is on resolutions. Those resolutions are often based on the experiences of the year we leave behind and a commitment to a new and greatly anticipated desired outcome in the new year. However, I propose that which we might seek to pursue instead is to focus on intentions. An article posted on BulletJournal.com this past month entitled, Plans vs Goals vs Resolutions vs Intentions, stated the following;
“Like resolutions, intentions are also commitments. These commitments however aren’t defined by some future outcome, they’re defined by present actions. The purpose of an intention is to be, rather than to arrive. It’s to align your actions with your belief whenever you have an opportunity. Interestingly, once we begin to look at the world through the lens of our intention, we realize how many of those opportunities we’re granted every day. Goals describe some future place where we hope to arrive. As soon as we set an intention, we’ve already arrived. In fact, the point of intention is to help us arrive in each moment. To be present. It’s an indefinite exploration of what matters to us.”
What a powerful mindset to start out the new year with…to live daily with a purposeful determination to be present in every moment living out what we believe, grateful for each and every opportunity.
On the heels of January is February. February welcomes one of our favorite holidays, Valentine’s Day, where we have the chance to show our love for those who hold a special place in our hearts in novel and sweet ways. Red roses, colorful cards, and delicious chocolates create giddy laughter and excitement in school children and mature adults alike. After all, who doesn’t love being the object of another’s affection, attention, and fondness. It is the month where we reflect on the importance of relationships in our lives.
Nowhere is the importance of intentionality more important than in relationship. How we choose to live moment by moment builds the foundation for our character and all the things that people perceive about us, feel about us, and experience about us. It’s the little things we do every day, in every moment, that have the potential to build trust with others. Dr. John Gottman, researcher, author, and expert on couples and relationships, states the following in his book entitled, What Makes Love Last? How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal, asserts, “The foundational principle for making relationships work is trust.” He also states that, based on nearly three decades of research in the Gottman Love Lab at the University of Washington, “Trust is the foundation for love.” Not only does Dr. Gottman emphasize the importance of trust but trustworthiness as well. He writes, “Trustworthiness indicates a partner’s willingness to sacrifice for the relationship, to sometimes put his or her own needs on the back burner because the partnership matters most.” The choices we make daily can either make deposits in our trust accounts with others or make withdrawals, which over time, can ultimately lead to a break in trust.
In The Trust Transformation: Keys to Building Successful Personal & Professional Relationships, written by Roy W. Reid Jr, APR, CPRC, and Omayra Mansfield, MD, MHA, FACEP, the authors share the following, “If we understand that trust is earned and we take responsibility for our relationships, they will become more fulfilling, productive, and enriching. Taking responsibility for our relationships requires humility.” In an effort to strive for a humble attitude in our relationships, we must assume the role of being more intentional and mindful of others and their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Mansfield and Reid suggest a list of practices that foster and develop humility in oneself: “Be other-focused/It’s not Always all about You, Act on your Concern for Others/Help others in Need, Treat others with Respect and Dignity, Accept Critical Feedback, Cultivate Gratitude/Be Grateful, Admit your Wrongs/Learn from your Mistakes, Listen First, Speak Less.”
The last item in Reid and Mansfield’s list for developing humility and taking responsibility for building trust in our relationships is the importance of listening. We do not always do this very well. Often, in a conversation, individuals spend more time thinking about what they will say in response to another than they actually spend listening closely to what the other is saying and giving them their full attention. When this happens, we often miss so much of what the other person is trying to communicate. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflict. Dr. John Gottman shares a wealth of phenomenal information for ensuring healthy relationships in his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. In conversation, Gottman suggests the practice of listening non-defensively. Listening with the intention of hearing what the other is trying to share with us, especially in conflict or disagreement, requires us to drop our filters. Often individuals bring an “agenda” to the table and choose to filter everything they hear through that filter. Tyler Groff, thought leader and pastor, encourages us to heed the following caution, “You are no more dangerous than when you are right.” Relationship expert Esther Perel shares an additional warning, “Certainty is the enemy of change.” Can we humble ourselves to meet our partners, family members, friends, coworkers, and loved ones where they are and allow ourselves to be courageous enough to practice communication that includes empathy, forgiveness, tenderness, kindness, compassion, and listening well? Can we be brave enough to see things from a different perspective and humble ourselves to find resolution and facilitate healing? Can we admit that maybe, just maybe, we are not always right?
Mentioned earlier was the idea of a trust account in relationships where deposits and withdrawals can be made based on how we steward our connection with others. The encouragement is to invest with deposits made daily. Spend time with one another. Get to know one another. Check in on one another. Serve one another. Ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness in return. Practice gratefulness. Practice empathy. Be respectful of one another and mind healthy boundaries. Play together. Laugh together. Resist the urge to react and instead respond. Think before you speak. Listen to one another. Pray for one another. Love one another. Enjoy one another … for the return on investment can indeed be a blessing.
Kim Reid, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern| a committed counselor that builds trust with her clients through a collaborative client/therapist relationship in the Horizon West, Windermere and Dr Phillips area.