My first reflection, The Impact of Intention, was an intellectual piece that I’ve since thought about how to put into practice. When I encounter someone doing or feeling something, I’ve started to ask why “I” am doing or feeling something, rather than view them in the second or third person.

Why am I crying?

Why am I being impatient?

Why don’t I understand?

Asking these questions pushes me not to hold on to the point, burning hot in my throat, that I so desperately want to make. Because as much as I want to make the point, “I” don’t need to hear it.

The primary challenge in my interpersonal relationships is overcoming my initial impulse, whatever that may be. But this practice has a somewhat different impact when focused on someone I don’t know, someone I read about, or even fictional characters.

When I aim this question toward people I feel a particular aversion toward, this practice becomes perhaps a more painful one.

Why did I say such hurtful things?

Why did I shoot that unarmed man?

Why don’t I feel responsible for an outbreak getting out of hand?

I’ve tried a similar practice before, using “we” instead of “I.” This created a feeling of unity with someone, but there was still separation. “I” removes this separation. I am no one other than this person.

This practice is not limited to people. As I drive down the roads near our home, where deer are prevalent, I ask myself how terrified I, as a deer, must feel in this moment. Some of me have grown accustomed to these speeding lethal contraptions. Others of me approach each one with the fear and speculation of something utterly new.

Sometimes I’m a blade of grass, mowed weekly. I would prefer to grow tall, but at least having parts of me mulched back into the soil nourishes me to continue growing, to hold on to life.

This practice helps me to get around the issue of distinguishing between intention and impact. I, on the receiving end, have no way of knowing what I, on the doing end, intends. I only know what I do. This keeps the focus on my actions, my body language, and my speech, rather than my thoughts.

If you’ve already come across this sort of practice before, please send me an email. I’d love to hear more about it.

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