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The NSPA Blog

Happy New Year – 2020

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Posted on January 20th, 2020 by Bettina Carlson, under Take Charge, Tips & Resources

The New Year is still young, welcome to 2020! What are we intending to do with it? I wish for all of us, that we are fortunate and dedicated enough to fill it with many blessings, above all health, love, and wisdom! 

Many of us may have started off the New Year with resolutions. How are they coming along? Few of us will succeed, many will run into stumbling blocks, many will give up, and some of us may have given up already or never even started. According to a U. S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is around 80 percent, and most people lose their resolve by mid-February. I’ve been there, I’ve done that myself. With the result, that all too often, missed resolutions spark frustration or worse, a sense of failure.

Hence, I have grown not to be big on “resolutions,” instead I introduced affirmations and set intentions to do more of what feels good and less of what doesn’t. While resolutions felt like rules I imposed on myself, leaving me feeling like I failed when I didn’t succeed at them; affirmations and intentions engage my senses and open my mind to be more curious, more creative, and equally importantly, forgiving towards myself. With that mindset, I was successful in releasing some bad habits and shifting my thoughts to be more positive by default, and thus I made space for creating new beginnings. Sounds “Woo”? Maybe? But don’t dismiss it so quickly. There exists ample information on this topic in support of its success.

Intentions

An intention is a vision or a purpose that guides our thoughts, activities, attitudes, and choices. In this way, our intentions influence our experiences and, as Wayne W. Dyer said, “ You create your thoughts, your thoughts create your intentions, and your intentions create your reality.“ Intentions can be set in any area of your life: physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

I believe we all can succeed at setting intentions. You too! So if this concept is new to you, and you are curious, you could set your first intention to be: “I intend to make intentions an important part of my day”. Be aware, you cannot force yourself to believe in any intention, it has to come from your heart, it is something you wish to happen. 

How to set an intention?

You state your intention at the beginning of the day. You can say it quietly or you say it out aloud. Or you can write it down. (The act of writing adds to the manifestation of a thought. In Maria Montessori’s words: “What the hand writes, the brain remembers.”). Or you do both. Then, throughout the day, you will revisit your intention often and especially when needed, such as when you feel frazzled; bringing the intention back to the center of your mind will deepen and boost your focus.

Your intention can be a specific vision or wish, like “Today, I intend to forgive my brother for always telling me how to do things better”; or it can be a simple thought, like “I open my mind and heart.” “I am peace and calm”; or even just a word, which’s meaning you want to manifest in your life, like “love,” “kindness,” and such.

Important is to keep the tone of your intention positive. If your intention is to forgive a nagging family member, then don’t say: “I intend to not be bothered by my nagging sister,” but instead say: “I intend to forgive my sister and love her unconditionally.” Words have energy beyond the letters; and not only can they reflect our thoughts, but they can also precede our actions. Use them wisely! Let them reflect the desired outcome!

Intentions happen in the present, they are not goals in the (far) future. So pick an intention that you can pursue in the present. 

How do you create an intention? 

This is obviously a very personal matter. However, it starts with visioning and self-evaluation. 

Here are some basic and common questions you could ask yourself to get started:

  • What matters most to me?
  • What fears would I like to release? 
  • What anger would I like to release?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • Who do I want to forgive in my life?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What is my biggest dream?

Here are some common intentions that can help you get started:

  • Letting go of grudges against someone
  • Embracing change
  • Getting more sleep
  • Walking more 
  • Seeking the positive in life
  • Saying yes more often
  • Being courageous 
  • Drinking more water 

And many more. You create any intention you want, based on your self-evaluation.

For more tools that can support you in successfully setting intentions, see for links in Sources & Resources below.

Affirmations

“Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome negative thoughts. When you repeat them often and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes”. (https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/affirmations.htm)

Affirmations help you reframe the way you think about yourself, others, the world, your goals, basically everything. They help us change the way we think, and in turn, our changed thoughts change the way we live our lives. 

Personally, I enjoy affirmations over intentions. Why? Because of the tools available! In order to assist myself on this journey, for the past two years, I have been drawing daily guidance from Louise Hay’s I Can Do It daily calendar of affirmations. (https://www.louisehay.com). Every day in this calendar shows a positive affirmation or thought, kind of like an intention, except you didn’t originally pick it. Yet, I decided I would accept these affirmations for the day; and no matter the content, I would look at the day through the lens of this affirmation. The steps were the same as with intentions, I would revisit the affirmation often. 

I admit, in the beginning, it took me a concerted effort to keep my thoughts focused on the affirmation. But I was too curious to see what would happen if I stayed with it. I’m so grateful I did. It has lifted my mindset into such a beautiful place. 

On the opening page of December for 2019, Louise wrote the following introduction, which uses a beautiful metaphor of water to show how a positive affirmative thought (affirmation and intention alike) can lead to success. 

“I have learned that thoughts are like drops of water: When we think the same thoughts over and over again, first we have a little puddle, then we get a pond, and we finally create an ocean. If our thoughts are negative, we can drown in a sea of our own negativity. If your thoughts are positive, however, we can float on the Ocean of Life.”

My friend had the same calendar, a gift of mine. I must admit, there were days when we would call each other with tears in our eyes from laughter because the daily affirmation was so far off from our reality. But you know what? As the calendar days went by, my laughter remained, yet I also became more curious about how it would be different if I just accepted these “silly” affirmations and looked at my life as though these affirmations are true. And guess what? It made a difference! I became more courageous with my feelings, not running away from the bad ones, but actually leaning into them to hear what they had to say and learn from them. I came to know myself deep down inside. I started to embrace life in its glory and in its disappointments and challenges. 

Other common sources for affirmations can be from scripture; and not surprisingly, the internet is a huge resource. I follow some Social Media accounts just to read their quotes.  

Finally

It may not feel natural at first, but if you persist and intentionally work on your thoughts, and with dedication and practice it will feel more and more like second nature; and more importantly, you will start to reap the benefits! Your thoughts will get lighter and more positive, and so will your overall being. And remember, unlike a black or white rule, affirmations and intentions are a process, a journey in shifting your mindset. If you get tired on this journey, rest for a while! This is another advantage of affirmations and intentions, you can rest! Just don’t quit, but resume your practice of setting intentions and affirmations! Hence, unless you quit, you never fail! You simply grow at your own pace!

Many people may not realize how powerful our thoughts truly are! How our thoughts become our words, and our words become our actions! All impacting our reality and quality of our life. 

Sources & Resources

U.S. News and World Report. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail

Louise Hay. https://www.louisehay.com

Wayne W. Dyer. https://www.drwaynedyer.com

 Mindtools. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/affirmations.htm

Further reading on Intentions:

https://chopra.com/articles/5-steps-to-setting-powerful-intentions

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16947/10-intentions-to-set-for-your-most-authentic-life.html


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