When we react rather than act with intention, it shapes our experience and our outcome. When we are reactive, we simply respond to a stimulus that we have encountered. This can be a person, place, or thing. Usually, our reaction is unconscious. We just do whatever happens as a result. For example, a person comes into the room, they say something to us, and we immediately respond with whatever is true for us in that moment. This could be something beneficial that really makes the situation run quite smoothly. Or, it could be the type of reaction that’s more defensive or problematic, and as a result it creates a disruption or challenge. Either way, it’s simply a response that is not considered.
On the other hand, being intentional means that, regardless of the stimulus we experience, we have a reason for our response. So in other words, if we want to build connection, or clarity, or what have you, then we respond in a certain type of way to accomplish that desire. Intention requires that we know what it is that we want to do in a particular moment and that we guide our actions accordingly. It is the difference between flying by the seat of our pants and guiding the experience.
As you can probably quite easily see, there are times when being more intentional might be very beneficial and help to shift things in a positive way. In our life, we can pay attention to where our intentional efforts might benefit others and ourselves the most. Then we can put a little bit more effort and consciousness into those areas so that we can create more of what we want in life. Conversely, if we do not take the time to be intentional, especially in important situations, our outcome can be hit or miss.
As much as intention is a tool to create more of what we want, it is not as simple as just coming up with a scenario we would like to create and then moving forward. Being intentional is a much more nuanced skill than that. Intention is about bringing our whole self into alignment with what we intend. The first step is getting clarity about how we would like things to go. Then, we have to bring ourselves into a state of being that is in alignment with this clarity. And, once we have, our final task is to surrender our expectations and our need for control and allow our actions to be guided. This final step is of extreme importance. If we do not surrender, we are merely managing the situation—not being intentional. This is just a sophisticated form of reaction.
To put this in action, we need to take the following steps. If we are going about our daily life and we want to be more intentional, we only need to get clear, bring ourselves into alignment, and surrender—but if we have already become reactive, it requires a couple more steps. For example, if someone says something to you that makes you feel activated or triggered, then the first step is to clear the negative reaction. We have to get out of the emotional reaction first before it is possible to take actions to be more intentional. When we are triggered, it may be impossible to know what it is that we would like to have as a positive outcome, let alone how to best create it. Regardless of whether or not you know, the first step is to clear the negative reaction—then we can start being more intentional.
Finally, we need to add skills to the mix. Setting our intention is essential; however, if we are lacking a certain skill that would help us act in a way that would bring our intention into being, we may still fall short of our mark. So, part of our process is also learning skills that support our intention becoming a reality. All of this this allows us to actively construct our life in a way that is most pleasing, satisfying, and beneficial.
If you’re looking to dive deep into your intentions and what might be obstructing them, you may be interested in a Breakthrough Intensive. Find out more here –> Breakthrough Intensive with Dr. Kate
Intention is the tool that takes us from the way things have been—the way we have been operating—to where it is that we want to go. Within our intention is the understanding that something else is possible, whether this is a change in direction entirely or a more continuous experience than we have experienced in the past. Our intention aligns us with our deepest truth and most intimate longings.
Often, when we look at ourselves, our lives, or our behaviors, we do so because we are evaluating how we got to a certain point. We ask ourselves questions such as “what has been true for me” and “what has contributed to where I am in this moment?” These types of questions have us looking at who we have been and how we got to the present moment, regardless of whether the present moment is great or not so great. It is actually much more productive to examine ourselves in a forward-reaching way, rather than retrospectively through our prior behavior.
Our intention focuses on where we are going to go and what is it that we want for the future. How is it that I want to construct my moments moving forward? Our intention might lead us into an entirely different experience or solidify a newfound one. Intention directs us to what we want, what we desire to create, and our next phase of evolution. Because of this, it is an incredibly helpful tool to guide us through life.
Additionally, as we set our intention, we create a frame for our understanding, providing a tool for us to evaluate what it is that we are wanting and doing. It helps us to become that much more informed about who we are and what it is that we want. When we form an intention, it allows us to see where we are in line with that intention and where we might be off track. For example, we might set an intention and then realize that it was not exactly what we wanted. In this way, setting an intention helps us learn about ourselves and the directions in which we want to advance. So the more that we are intentional, the more we can understand our desires, their impacts, and what is in our way. This brings a high degree of awareness into our lives.
So my suggestion is to find a way of bringing more intention into your day, whether that means setting an intention to start your day or any other certain period of time—for example, before your meals, before you leave to go somewhere, as you’re getting in your car, before you begin a new task, before you reach out to someone, or any other time that is a beginning or a moving forward. Any of these initial moments can be a time to get clear and to get intentional; then you can watch how that shifts your perception and how it also changes your outcome.
If you need a little encouragement on your way, take a look at these 16 Quotes on Positive Intention That Will Inspire Your Soul.
I. Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them.
II. “Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. What you mean when you do a thing will always determine the outcome. The law creates the world.” — Brenna Yovanoff
III. “Intention is not something you do, but rather a force that exists in the universe as an invisible field of energy- a power that can carry us. It’s the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and don’t let go of it until you make it a reality. Inspiration is the reverse- when an idea gets hold of you and you feel compelled to let that impulse or energy carry you along. You get to a point where you realize that you’re no longer in charge, that there’s a driving force inside you that can’t be stopped. Look at the great athletes, musicians, artists, and writers. They all tap into a source.” — Wayne Dyer
IV. “In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link” — Carlos Castaneda
V. “Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.” — Bryant McGill
VI. “A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” — Seneca
VII. “It is not good enough for things to be planned – they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation.” — Walt Kelly
VIII. “You’ve got to know what you want. This is central to acting on your intentions. When you know what you want, you realize that all there is left then is time management. You’ll manage your time to achieve your goals because you clearly know what you’re trying to achieve in your life.” — Patch Adams
IX. “The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power.” — Gary Zukav
X. “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” — William A. Foster
XI. “Energy is directed by intention into action. If the action is not happening, if you’re finding excuses to not do whatever you set out to do, revisit your intention. Perhaps you were not being honest with yourself. Where is your energy flowing instead? That is where your intention sits.” — Akiroq Brost
XII. “Guard your time fiercely. Be generous with it, but be intentional about it.” — David duChemin
XIII. “Gratitude in advance is the most powerful creative force in the Universe.” — Neale Donald Walsh
XIV. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” — Wilfred Arlan Peterson, The Art of Living, Day by Day
XV. “Intention is more than wishful thinking—it’s willful direction. It is a philosophy of the heart put into practice, a consistency of conscious patterns of thought, energy, and action. Through intention, we see more and create with more clarity, passion, and authenticity. Our attention then becomes a spotlight for every shred of supporting evidence that we’re on the right path.” — Jennifer Williamson
XVI. “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” — Henry David Thoreau
If you’d like more support cultivating a life lived well, check out my individual and group programs, here.
A lot of times when people think about being happier in their life, they think about “having something”—having a sense of purpose, having the right relationship, having some quality of life that’s going to result in them feeling happier. In reality, having these things doesn’t always equal feeling happy. What does make us happier is incorporating the experience of pleasure into our day-to-day, moment-to-moment life.
When we learn what it is that we like and enjoy—and we learn how to do it more and more—we become happier.
Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned to live the majority of our time in a state of deprivation, only occasionally providing ourselves with rewards. A classic example of this is to work all week so that you can enjoy yourself on the weekend. The idea is that you put in time being disciplined (“doing the right thing,” being responsible, making sacrifices) and that buys you some time to do what you actually enjoy.
When we live life this way, we can fall into the trap of having less and less pleasure in our life and thus less and less happiness. People who live this way often experience burnout. They report feeling a sense of fatigue, experiencing a flat emotional state, and wondering what the point of it all is.
To fix this problem, we start to turn things on their head. We ask the questions, “How can I bring more pleasure into my existence on a regular and consistent basis? What happens if I question the notion that pleasure is a reward rather than a state of being?”
It is helpful to start small. What are some easy ways to bring more pleasure into your life? It can be anything from bringing a picture into work that reminds you of something pleasurable to eating your favorite food or taking a moment to see something that’s beautiful in your environment. We can start with these simple methods and then build on them.
Then, we can start to ask bigger questions, such as “Am I engaging in work that is actually pleasurable to me? Do I enjoy myself when I spend time alone? Does this person in my life bring experiences of pleasure?”
Pursuing what brings us pleasure does not mean that every single aspect of life will now be enjoyable or that we will no longer experience difficulty, pain, or challenge, but it will start us working in a way that creates a life that feels good. By doing this, we start undoing the habits and patterns that keep us in a place of deprivation.
Pursuing more pleasure in our life helps ensure that we are happier on a regular basis. It feeds us at a very deep level. It takes care of us in a way that we cannot address through goals and plans. It ensures our happiness in the moment to moment.
If you’d like more support cultivating a life lived well, check out my individual and group programs, here.
If you are a sensitive person, one of the ways that you can take care of yourself is through the creation of regular rituals. Here are thirteen reasons why sensitive souls need rituals to stay healthy, happy, and balanced.
If you are a sensitive soul that identifies as a healer and are looking for support to find the gifts within your sensitivities, you may benefit from my Integrative Healing Apprenticeship. Find out more here: Integrative Healing Apprenticeship
I was about twenty years old when I first realized that I was empathic. I didn’t know that word at the time, but I recognized the empathic qualities that I possessed.
One day, I walked into a building and was instantaneously hit with this wave of negative feelings. At first, I thought that it was me. At the time, I believed that I had social anxiety and that I was nervous about entering a space where there were lots of other people. But in this moment, I had an insight. I recognized that the feelings I was feeling were not mine; instead, they were the feelings of the people in the space that I was entering. This was a revelation—the type of revelation that empaths have when they realize that they are empaths.
This is the type of experience that empaths have all the time. They’ll be going about their regular everyday life when they are suddenly hit with waves of emotion that are not theirs but someone else’s. They may have these feelings when they are relating to someone close to them or even with random people they encounter. In fact, it does not even always need to be people—it can also be things in their environment.
While this is very useful information—and for people like me, it is incredibly supportive of what I do professionally—it is not always easy to deal with. It can at times pose great challenges. Some people who have such experiences might say, “Well, I didn’t choose this for myself. I wish I was not like this; I wish I could turn it off.”
Most empaths at least wonder, “How do I work with this way of being? How can I make this an easier experience?” To be healthy as an empath requires a lot of self-care and also strengthening yourself energetically so that you can build a beneficial relationship with the things that you come into contact with.
If you identify with this idea of being an empath but you’re struggling with some of aspects of it, the best place to start is with self-care. Being healthy as an empath requires diligent attention to your self-care. You need to learn how to keep yourself clear, know how much downtime you need versus contact with different people or types of energy, and know what you need so far as sleep, food, and healthy environments are concerned. It is essential to take care of these areas of your life if you want to truly feel good in yourself and happy in your life.
The next step is to actually strengthen your own energy so that you are better able to consistently maintain a clear state of being. In part, this requires clearing negative energies and patterns from your life. The more that you clear any kind of negativity or problems that you are personally carrying inside, the easier it becomes to relate to what is going on around you without taking it on.
So working on yourself is of crucial importance. Working on yourself goes hand in hand with understanding how to strengthen yourself energetically, and as you do, it becomes easier and easier to discern what is yours versus what is another’s.
Being empathic is a gift. Although it might be hard to see it like that when you are faced with some of its challenges, as we attend to our self-care, clear our own disturbances, and strengthen ourselves, we begin to experience the benefits more and more.
Join me and a community of emergent healers for my Integrative Healing Apprenticeship, starting this year. If you are coming into your gifts as an empath and healer, let’s walk together on this one. Read more here: Integrative Healing Apprenticeship
About a year after stepping more intensively into my spiritual journey, a series of events happened that pushed me into an entirely different understanding of what it means to be on a spiritual path. I learned that integrity is the most important companion to have on this journey. I also learned that vulnerability is the foundation on which integrity stands.
To be vulnerable means to offer your unprotected heart and truth to others without expectation that they will offer you the same in return. When we are being vulnerable, we offer forward our flaws and limitations, we are the first to acknowledge our contribution to any disharmony, and we are willing to be wrong. We show ourselves in our imperfection as well as our strength.
Walking this path with our weaknesses front and center, leading by offering our humanity, ensures that we are doing the necessary work to be a worthy vessel for all of the blessings that we receive. It ensures that the power that is put in our hands is put into hands that can truly use it for good.
It opens us to a level of spiritual teaching that is otherwise inaccessible.
It takes an exceptionally strong, psychologically and spiritually mature person to show up vulnerably. When we do, people will sometimes project their ignorance and their own weaknesses on to us. They can blame us for their oversights and expect us to right their wrongs. Sometimes, to the untrained eyes, our vulnerability defines us as less than. To stay the course, we must know ourselves well and our connection to the spirit deeply so that we can allow for this misunderstanding, keep our heart open, and continue to offer ourselves fully
Our expression of vulnerability is an opportunity for others to open up and be vulnerable themselves. When the invitation of vulnerability is received, it is possible for another person to meet us there in that vulnerable space and create a depth of healing that would otherwise be unrealizable. This potentiates the growth of both parties.
As we are entrusted with profound spiritual insights that come from our spiritual seeking, it is exceptionally easy to trick ourselves into believing that our intentions are pure and altruistic when in fact they are actually highly sophisticated expressions of our ego. Vulnerability is the key to unlocking our spiritual development rather than developing a spiritualized ego—where we only see our self in a positive light, identify our self with the spiritual gifts we have received, and place our shadow aspects onto others.
Being vulnerable ensures that we look at ourselves first before offering corrections, feedback, and opinions to others. It asks us to own our mistakes and approach with an attitude of learning. And, when we forget to do this, it reminds us to make amends as soon as possible. This prevents us from becoming righteous and, because of this, doing more harm than good.
For me, the most profound teacher of vulnerability, both its challenges and its power, is Jesus. Jesus said, “Let he among you who is innocent cast the first stone.” He said this to a group of people who had come to believe that they were morally superior and so their cruelty was justified. The teaching from this story is that when we lose sight of our own limitations, even if we are acting based on supposed spiritual principles, we are misguided in our actions.
Each day, we are presented with many opportunities where we can either be vulnerable or cast the first stone. Our choices release us from our burdens or add to them. The more weight we let go of, the more light we can let in.
I know that, at my current level of development, it often takes me time to remember to put my vulnerability forward immediately and without qualification. It is so much easier to make myself vulnerable after I have created security through being validated or a establishing a feeling of control. Slowly, I am learning to trust the spirit more and surrender more quickly without needing these compensations. As I do, my burdens become lighter and my spiritual insights more profound.
In the end, all we have is the truth of our heart. It will not matter how many times we were right, if we were truly understood, or whether we had the respect and acknowledgement of those around us. It will matter that we have made amends where we have hurt others, owned our limitations, and—as much as possible—done no harm. To do this, we need to learn the lessons of vulnerability.
Join me for my Integrative Healing Apprenticeship to step deeper into your vulnerability and find the spiritual gold within it.
When someone close to us is acting in a way that is difficult for us, our response is often defensive—we react to their behavior. We feel like we need to do something about it—for example, we might believe we need to draw a line to make it clear that other person has done wrong in some way, or make a correction to their behavior.
This comes in part from our need to protect ourselves or from our desire to make sure that whatever we don’t like doesn’t keep happening. While putting boundaries in place and communicating with other people in this way is an important skill—particularly when dealing with certain people—there’s also another way of approaching disagreements that can be very helpful.
This other way is to ask the person to join into the experience that you want to have with them. This requires us to be aware of what we would like to have happen in the moment when it is not happening as well as to be emotionally clear enough to act on this knowledge.
There is often an assumption that, when someone does something that we don’t like, they did it intentionally, they were not able to see something, or they just disregarded our needs. But most often, other people are simply not aware of what it is that we want or need. And many people have not become skilled at saying what it is that they do want and need.
When you are in a situation where someone in your life is not acting the way you would like, try inviting this person into the type of experience that you want rather than challenging, defending, or putting a boundary in place, and just see how it goes.
If, for example, I want to work on communication with someone and they’re not giving me the type of communication I want, I could respond by saying something such as, “Well, you’re not communicating with me, and that is a problem for me.” It is clear in my response that I do not like the behavior and also that I am feeling defensive. Because of my response, the other person might become a bit defensive themselves, and we will likely bounce our hurt and defenses off of each other.
Or, I can come into the situation and say something like, “What would really feel good to me is more communication, and this is what it would look like to have that.” With this example, I have gotten rid of the layers of defensiveness and simply invited the person into the way of being in our relationship that I would like most.
While not everyone will be able to rise to the occasion, when it does work, you will see just how powerful this method can be. It might actually become an essential new aspect of your repertoire—a new way of relating to others, a tool that helps you get back on track and create more of what you want in your life.
For more tips and tricks on how to create your life in an empowered way, check out my youtube videos here.
What does it mean to be empowered? A wonderful teacher of mine, Alisa Starkweather, taught me that to be empowered means to know that you have a choice. I think that this is a fabulous starting point. Having a choice means that we are able to choose how we act and react in any situation. Outside circumstances will no longer dictate our responses! Feeling this sense of choice is the root of empowerment.
Being empowered means overcoming victimhood, which has become an epidemic. Victimhood is the opposite of having a choice. It is the experience of believing that someone or something else is doing something to us and that we have no control over the situation.
Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to feel that we have a choice. However, as we grow and develop, we learn how to find the choices that are there. This is what it is to be empowered: to know that we have the ability to choose what we want in any given situation.
Victim mindset represents the pervasive believe that we do not have power in our lives. Once in the victim mindset, we look outside and say “You are doing this to me, therefore I have no control.” This belief ensures that we remain a victim.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t situations in which people are actually victimized and, because of circumstance, have only bad options to choose from. Those situations are not the issue at hand. Rather, this level of victimhood is a foundational way of orienting to the events of your life. When we interact with the world as a victim, we look to the world to treat us differently rather than realizing that it is within our capacity make changes and determine how we want to move forward in our life.
Like many things in life, it is important that we allow a lot of compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance for this part of ourselves. We can’t move past our victim mentality without giving it the attention it needs. You can’t beat the victim up and tell them to get over it. That’s not that’s not the way that it works. Our first steps are to learn to see, appreciate, and love this part of ourselves. Every single aspect of ourselves has a teaching. Every aspect informs us about ourselves, about life, and about others.
By accepting our inner victim and relating to it as a teacher, we take our first steps toward leaving this way of life behind. We start by asking the important questions: “How does being in the victim mentality inform me about myself? How does it help me become the person I want to be?” We will always have this part of ourselves but we do not need to be acting from it all the time.
To take even more steps in the direction of empowerment, recognize that you have choices. If you find yourself in a situation that you don’t like, see what you want out of the situation instead. Tuning into an alternative vision of the situation is the first part of being able to choose something different. There isn’t one way that you need to do this. It is a process of learning. But here is a starting point:
Step 1 – Ask yourself “What else could happen here?”
Step 2 – Choose to move in the direction of the action or experience that is desired.
We grow out of the victim mentality by first recognizing that we have the power to choose to move in an affirming direction and then making that choice. The beauty of this is that whether or not we succeed in creating an entirely different circumstance, we have already begun to reclaim our power.
Are you interested in exploring the ways that victimhood is affecting your life? Dive deep in my free workshop titled “The Power of You: How to Overcome Despair and Thrive”, or click here to read about my Breakthrough Intensive.
It’s a part of our human experience to have defenses—though quite frequently, these defenses create problems for us. They change what we are able to get out of our relationships or what we are able to receive and develop in our lives, leaving us to wonder how we can work with them to be most productive in the way that is best for us.
Being defensive is a totally normal human response. However, often, if someone says you’re being defensive, the immediate reaction is to feel like you have done something wrong and should not be acting that way. In truth, that response is often the other person’s defense. If they call you out, then they have the upper hand.
The first step is just accepting the fact that it’s OK to be defensive. When you are, it is an opportunity to learn. Our defenses show us how we have been hurt or what needs of ours have not been met in the past, usually in our childhood and then even more throughout our lives afterward.
How and when we get defensive shows us how and why our defenses developed. They show us what it is that we need in order to better care for ourselves: underneath every defense is a lot of information about how we can actually grow and develop.
If you find yourself getting defensive in a situation, you can ask yourself, “What is it that I am afraid of?” (The “Biggest Fear” quiz on my website can help you get clarity about your greatest fears. See the end of this article for the link) In truth, we have an assortment of fears that lead to our being defensive, but as the quiz will show you, there are certain fears that are more intense than others. When we recognize what they are, we can do something about them.
For example, when we recognize that we have a need for safety or a fear of losing contact, being controlled or betrayed, we have gathered important information. We know that this has happened repeatedly in our life and is something that needs our attention.
If we have a need for safety, for example, the way to decrease our defense against this is to learn how to create safety for ourselves. That’s the healing step forward.
After we have cared for ourselves in this way, we ultimately transcend the problem and can truly be free. That’s is how you heal from learning about and taking care of your defenses.
But to start the process, we must give ourselves what we need, regularly and consistently. If we engage in this deep level of self-care, we’ll be able to really heal from what has happened in the past. There are a number of different ways that we can attend to these wounds. We can learn to provide what we need for ourselves and we can learn how to receive it through the support of the people around us.
Once we are clear that we are being defensive, why we are being defensive, and then provide for that need, we’ll see ourselves getting softer, more open, and more flexible. Our strength will return to each situation that would have previously been challenging so that we’re able to respond in a way that is less defensive and more connective.
And, in the end, when we do this, it gives us more of what we want.
If you’re curious to discover what is hidden behind your defenses, take my quiz!