There is a principle that is commonly used by therapists and coaches known as; Positive Intention. It’s a special way of looking at the world observing that all behaviour serves (or at one time served) a positive purpose. You’re probably already familiar with it. An example could be the positive intention behind a person’s aggressive behaviour. From their point of view that behaviour could be derived from the positive intention of protection.
The point is acting as if this principle is true can help you live a more satisfying life. Have you ever had the experience where you wanted to do some work or activity but a part of you began objecting and got in your way?
Most people experience different parts of themselves. e.g.) “Part of me wants to do XYZ, but another part of me says no it’s stupid let’s not bother.”
These aspects of our psyche can sabotage our efforts. But what would happen if we were to take a look at these ‘sabotaging parts’ through the lens of positive intention?
When you allow yourself to become aware of one of your aspects you can have a little conversation with it. So if you had a part that said, “no it’s stupid let’s not bother,” you could ask the following kinds of questions to uncover the positive intention:
- “What purpose are you serving?”
- “What goal are you trying to achieve for me?”
- “What is your positive intention?”
If you’ve never tried this before you’ll find it can be pleasantly surprising. Sometimes you might have to ask the question a few times to get a positive response.
Following along with the example, that particular aspects response could be something such as:
- “I don’t want you to waste your time and effort.”
- “I don’t want you to make a fool of yourself.”
- “I’m trying to protect you from making a mistake!”
This is fairly simple stuff right? And it’s actually quite profound if you practice the principle until it becomes a habit. It means all aspects of you, no matter how seemingly destructive, are actually on your side. They have your best interests at heart. By communicating with these parts of the psyche, keeping positive intention in mind, we can begin to integrate these aspects into our whole being.
Using this principle is an act of kindness that will enable you to become more whole. It will enable you to feel more integrated and congruent as a person. So if you ever find yourself, ‘beating yourself up,’ give this principle a go and see what new insights you can learn about yourself.
Recommended Further Reading: