We know about the power of 'intention". But what happens when two good intentions conflict with each other?
Two of the most common "good intentions" that come into conflict are these two. On the one hand I want to take care of others, show compassion and love, and do good deeds. On the other hand I need to take care of myself and do all that I need to do to provide for myself, get enough rest, eat healthy food, and take time to relax. Sometimes these two things will be in conflict. Here are some examples.
A person asks a favor but I'm really too busy.
Someone wants to borrow $20 but I need that money to buy my dinner.
A friend calls to talk about a problem when I'm tired and ready to go to bed.
And the list could go on. Do you have any favorites to add to it?
Some of us deal with this dilemma by always putting the other person first and on the odd occasion that we don't, we then spend time feeling guilty about it. Others, put self first most of the time on the basis that self-care is a priority over care for others. Either way intentions are in conflict What if there were no right or wrong answer here? What if we could use discernment and decide which situations called for compassion to others and which called for compassion to self.
There is a concept called "the greater good" and for those of us pursuing a spiritual path asking what serves this is often a uselful tool for discernment. In any action we can ask "what would serve the greater good" in this situation. Remember however that you yourself are a part of the greater good. You are included and must also be considered in the equation.
To be able to exercise this level of discernment demands a high level of inner attunement. If we are tuned in to our inner compass in body, mind, and spirit, such discernment will be easier. This is where our daily practice rewards us. The more time we have spent tuning into our bodies, witnessing our thinking, and feeling our purpose from deep within, the more chance we will have of being able to find our inner compass when we most need it.
Finally, we can also learn from experience. If we are in tune with ourselves and not letting the chatter of our mind run our lives, as soon as we make any choice we will internally "know" if it feels right or not. More and more we will be able to trust that inner knowing in situations that call for discernment around intentions in conflict.
Want to get more in touch? Things that will help include a daily practice, perhaps getting a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy session, learning to meditate, going for walks every day, and taking better care of yourself. Isn't that ironic? In order to better serve others, I might need to also take care of myself.