I was on Instagram scrolling in the explore section. Then I scrolled past a quote that said, “live less out of habit and more out of intent”. I allowed it to fester. It is heavily used by people, so the word “intent” has always made me uneasy. To combat its use, I started vocalizing how the focus should be on the action and not the intent behind the action. I always felt that intent was used as a crutch to negate one’s actual behavior. It’s like leaving someone waiting for you for hours, then, the next day, tell them that your intent was to show up. It was situations like that that really made me stray away from that word. I feel it allows people to not be accountable for the action because they use the intent rug to cover the swept dirt.
Yet, this quote lingered. It had me at a standstill. Spirit told me it was time to evolve and expand my perspective. So, I decided to research what spirit was telling me to do. I came across a psychological study that tested the use of intentions and breaking habits. It was found that one can rid themselves of their habits by implementation intentions. So, let’s talk about how to live less out of habit and more out of intent, but first we have a few things to address.
Habit Versus Intent
A habit is a behavior that is a routine and is performed subconsciously. Intent is doing something with a purpose and is performed with the conscious mind. Our habits are powerful. The subconscious mind is built out of habit and controls roughly 95% of one’s life. Hence why every experience is taken literally by the subconscious mind. The subconscious doesn’t separate past, present, and future nor does it separate what is real and what is imagined. The subconscious mind records everything and is always awake. It is all about the visuals and not words. It communicates through metaphors and images.
A large piece of our beliefs about the world is formed during the age range of 2 to 7. This is because most of the learning in this age range is subconscious. The visuals that are taught in school and those that are shown by parents are still in the subconscious. These examples lay the foundation for character, values, and beliefs about one’s purpose in life. So, it is certainly more about what you do and not what you say when setting examples with children.
In order to live out of intent and not out of habit, one must separate their routine from their rituals.
Rituals and Routines
This post is in the Mind/Body/Spirit section and this section has quite a few posts about rituals. There is this one-dimensional belief about rituals and this is part of the issue. Yes, there is this belief that witches, or brujas, are using rituals to conjure spirits. However, rituals are used in religions and everyday life. When one drinks wine and eats the bread at church, that is a ritual. If your family vacations quarterly to strengthen familial bonds, that is a ritual. So, we have to be very careful about the associations we place behind words because remember your subconscious mind is all about visuals. Be aware of the visuals you were taught to associate with a word.
A routine is an action that is followed regularly. Routines include actions such as morning hygiene regimen or the steps a person takes after they get home to unwind from work. Every person has a routine, no matter if productive or not. Every person doesn’t have a ritual. Much like routines, rituals are actions that are completed regularly, but they have a deeper meaning and purpose. A ritual signifies a moment of importance. Societal conditioning has grouped the routine to also be the ritual. They are two very different things, but they have become one. Every day a person is performing their routine, which becomes their ritual. While not taking a moment to truly think about the intention they are placing behind their actions.
Seperating Ritual From Routine
The subconscious mind can be programmed! It requires a person to recognize everything that I have mentioned thus far in order to program (or re-program) it. A large part of the day is a person going through routines that they have developed over the years. One typically responds to situations from the subconscious mind. Unfortunately, the societal norm is to go through the motions without giving one’s actions any actual forethought. In order to live out of intent and not out of habit, one must separate their routine from their rituals. It has to be acknowledged consciously to have true impact.
HABIT/ROUTINE = Washing the dishes to keep the kitchen clean.
INTENT/RITUAL = Using the time while washing the dishes to practice mindfulness through meditation and clearing your mind.
Rituals are how you set intentions. In the morning, meditate before your hygiene routine or morning workout. In meditation, you are clearing your mind of thoughts. A great thing to do after meditation is positive affirmations. Positive affirmations enter your subconscious and become your intentions and motivations. Afterward, lay out your intentions for the day. While showering, set your intention by visualizing the water cleansing you from all of your negative thoughts. When going from one routine to the next, like from work to pick up your children, start another ritual. Instead of listening to music, listen to an audiobook or podcast. To end your day, journal. Put all the words down on paper from the day. After journaling, sit and visualize how you want the next day to go. Big meeting tomorrow? Visualize you knocking it out of the park.
An implementation intention is the “if-then” statement. An “if-then” statement provides a predetermined plan that will alleviate one from acting out of habit. I have been in many situations where I have prepared myself for it to happen to prevent me from acting out of anger. Anger is manifested from fear. I recall hanging out with a group of women that I did not know. I made it clear that my intent was to hang out and get to know the women. IF anyone said anything passively or to get a rise out of me, THEN I would remember that their insecurities are not my responsibility. These are the kinds of predetermined plans that ensure I am truly accountable for my actions. In doing this, I am verbalizing my intent and not behaving from habit. Therefore, I am not confusing what is truly a habit and masking it with intent.
Am I perfect? Absolutely not. So, on occasion, I do respond to people from my defense mechanisms, which is a habit of mine. However, developing better habits and re-programming takes time and dedication. An implementation intention is all about promoting action control instead of living out of habit. Your day to day matters. The journey you experience while you are here matters. Take yourself out of automatic pilot and start to live purely out of intent and not from habit. Rewire your association with the word intent and develop better daily rituals for yourself. You are here for a purpose. Find that purpose by removing yourself from your habits. Ground yourself daily. The societal goal is to pull you from your spiritual purpose, but you must override your habits and persevere. Embrace your failures by being vulnerable and watch how fearless you become!