There are three mental practices that make prime the brain for change. They are visualization, affirmations, and intentions. Positive change starts with a positive vision of the life you want, positive affirmations of that vision, and positive intentions you commit to doing to make your affirmations a reality.
Intentions are the last of the morning visualization-affirmation-intention process. Your visualization of your dream life includes seeing yourself going through your day, doing what you need to do to realize your dreams. You visualize yourself putting your intentions into action.
Your intentions are action statements that result from your affirmations. Through your intentions, you put your affirmations into action to realize your life vision. It is through our intentions that we actualize our higher selves. Intentions influence our actions, which then influence our outcomes. Positive intentions produce positive actions, which produce positive results.
Actions shape our lives. If you start the day with visualizing the life you want as if it were real today, followed by reciting positive affirmations and then reinforcing your affirmations with intentions, you will eventually start acting on those intentions. Then, your positive actions will lead to positive results. As you change on the inside, your life will change on the outside.
Everything we do starts with an intention. An intention triggers each decision and every action we take. The course of our lives is shaped by our intentions, which spring from our desires. Intentions impact our actions, which then shape our destiny. Good intentions lead to good results, while bad intentions lead to bad results. This is karma. Good intentions create the conditions for wholesome consequences.
We set intentions to act and be a certain way based upon what matters most to us, in alignment with our values. Living grounded in good intentions bolsters both our integrity and the quality of our lives.
Practice your intentions every morning following your visualization and reciting your affirmations. As with visualization and affirmation, your intentions will be most effective if recited in the silence and stillness of a meditative state. State your intentions in a state of still awareness. If possible, state them to yourself in a mirror. Say them with commitment and conviction. Making an intention is a serious, solemn act. Say it like you mean it, and commit yourself to following through on your intentions as you go about your day.
When we make intentions, they unconsciously guide our actions as we go about our day. With repetition, we gradually experience Reality responding to our engagement in surrendered action. As we act out our good intentions, Reality resonates with us, and good comes back to us, often in unforeseen ways.
Base your intentions on your affirmations. Make your intentions an expectation of how you will act today. Be realistic, however. You may want to start small and build from there. Go up in achievable, incremental steps.
Change requires support. We benefit from an accountability partner. People tend to keep commitments that they have shared with others. Share your intentions for the day with someone. You may even hire a coach or a trainer to keep you accountable.
Make intentions positive actions. Things you will do. So, rather than saying, “Today, I will not gossip,” say, “Today, I will only speak good of others.”
Here are some examples of intentions:
- Today I will be loving towards myself and others in all that I say and do.
- Today I will be a channel of love.
- Today I will be compassionate.
- Today I will be contented.
- Today I will be empathic.
- Today I will be generous.
- Today I will be hopeful.
- Today I will be affirming.
- Today I will be patient.
- Today I will be forgiving.
- Today I will be humble.
- Today I will be grateful.
- Today I will be helpful.
- Today I will be yielding.
- Today I will be joyful.
- Today I will be tactfully truthful.
- Today I will only speak good of others.
- Today I will eat no more than 1500 calories.
- Today I will eat only healthy foods.
- Today I will exercise for 30’.
- Today I will connect with one friend or family member.
- Today I will lead a balanced life of work, love, and play.
- Today I will practice mindfulness.
- Today I will treat others according to the truth of their sacred nature.
- Today I will be kind to others no matter what.
- Today I will be thoughtful.
- Today I will be considerate.
- Today I will keep it simple.
- Today I will live in harmony with others and with all of life.
- Today I will talk out any cravings that arise with someone.
- Today I will be confident.
- Today I will be open-minded.
- Today I will share everything I am feeling, thinking, and doing with at least one person.
- Today I will talk out anything painful that arises.
- Today I will accomplish ____(fill in the blank with tasks you want to accomplish).
- Today I will pause and take a deep breath if I get upset or angry.
- Today I will do what is best for everyone, including me.
- Today I will face my fear and do what I must with courage.
Feel free to make your own intentions. Base them on your affirmations. Take you affirmations and make an intention for each one that is clear, concrete, specific, and, if possible, measurable. Make sure it is realistic and doable.
I have heard of people practicing a one-word intention, almost as a mantra, throughout the day. Such and intention could simply be “Love.”
Pick 5-10 intentions for each day that match your affirmations. Go about your day living them, moment-by-moment throughout the day. Let them guide both your attitude and your actions.
At the end of each day, reflect on how well you lived your intentions. If you failed to keep an intention, investigate why and what you need to do differently tomorrow. It helps to write in a journal about how your day unfolded, what you achieved, and how you got off track. This is how we learn and grow.
We do not keep all our intentions all the time. Don’t expect perfection. Perfection is a form of delusion. We fall and fail daily. We need to repeatedly get up and recommit. Over and over. Let go of recriminations. Welcome failures as successes in disguise, for they are our teachers if we are only willing to learn from them. Our goal is progress, not perfection. Prize heartfulness over faultlessness. Refrain from judging yourself. If you see that you acted on negative intentions, just note the suffering it caused. This will help you to learn and let go of negative intentions.
Remember that it is through our intentional efforts that we grow. Transformation is repeatedly putting intentions into action, day-by-day. Success comes in overcoming setbacks and not despairing. Look around you and have faith. See that the big shots are the little shots who kept shooting.
Keep in mind that intentions are not goals. Goals are in the future. Intentions are about how we are acting right now. They are grounding and centering when things don’t go our way. They give us a sense of abiding meaning when frustration arises and our goals seem far way. If we can just stick with our good intentions, good will eventually result.
All positive intentions are based in love. Love is more skillful than hate or fear. When we act out of positive intentions, we are more likely to achieve our life goals than if we act out of fear or anger. Continually returning and recommitting to our intentions leads to a successful life.
Each day, recommit to your daily intentions. Do this in the morning, and throughout the day, especially when you encounter difficulties.
The Importance of Practice
Changing the brain takes repetition. You will need to practice your visualization, affirmations, and intentions over and over for a lifetime. Also, the brain does not delete. As you build new neural networks, the old, negative ones grow dormant, but they don’t go away. You need to keep practicing your visualizations, affirmations, and intentions every day for the rest of your life to keep them dominant. Otherwise, they will die down and you risk going back to your old, default mode of being, seeing, and doing. Repeat your visualization, affirmations and intentions every day. Remind yourself of your intentions throughout the day. Write them down along with your affirmations and carry them with you. Make them touchstones that you return to, over and over.
Practice daily to create change. Make these practices a priority. Schedule them into your day, starting with your morning ritual practice.
As with your other rituals and practices, give yourself 30 days of practicing your intentions to make them into a solid habit. Your brain will rebel. Expect this. When your mind resists, don’t worry. Persist. Let your critical mind go. It will take several weeks to months to begin to see results. Persevere with faith. You CAN change your life with regular, consistent practice!
From Intention to Action
Success and happiness come from living our loving intentions. Everything you want wants you, but you must act. If you act, Reality will conspire with you to make it happen.
Think about your dreams and intentions all day. You become what you think about all day long. But remember that you must act to make your dreams a reality. The Law of Attraction does not work with just wishful thinking.
You create everything that happens to you. So, write out a detailed action plan. How are you going to put your intentions into action? Plan and schedule your day to act out your intentions according to your highest priorities.
Change can be difficult. It requires effort. Ask for help and get support to keep on track. Make your intentions public to boost your accountability. It is helpful to have an accountability partner with whom you check in regularly.
Nothing will change for the better until you do. Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. Don’t let life happen to you. Instead, create your day based upon your intentions. Be proactive. Get out there, act on your good intentions, and change your life!
More on healing, recovery, growth, and transformation at drmichaelmcgee.com.