Clematis blossom set against foliage

How much do intentions matter?

In the scheme of things, how much do our intentions actually matter? Given how often, somewhere between the birth of our idea and the place it reaches its target, things seem to go awry, does it matter what we meant if the results are quite different?

We could have the finest intentions yet still cause devastating consequences. People might give very little thought to things, but somehow create good outcomes. It’s interesting to consider how often these things might not carry through – getting lost somewhere along their way into the real world. It’s almost like there’s two realities: the ones in our heads and the one happening all around us.

Perhaps it’s similar to communication not being successful if our meaning’s not conveyed? We have these ideas, feelings and plans in our heads – all these thoughts about our understanding of life, our relationships within it, and how we’d like things to be – and somehow need to send them out there for others to hear, so they know where we’re coming from. How often does that work out perfectly? (Notes One)

Between the words we choose, way we’re communicating and countless other factors, the likelihood of our message getting across as we hope may be quite low. It just seems things get lost on the way. As if our words and intentions all get thrown out into the void of communal reality and tend to float there, getting misinterpreted or never quite becoming what we thought.

Maybe it’s simply that any act of communication – words or deeds – is fraught with strange, uncontrollable obstacles? There’s the clarity with which we understand our own ideas and motivations; the skill we’ve got in wrapping those thoughts with words and sharing them in ways others are able to receive; then the fact others may, from their own frame of reference, interpret our meaning or delivery quite differently.

Isn’t “reality” something we have to create shared agreement over? Everyone perhaps needing to interpret things the same way, if we’re to have just one conversation about it all. As things stand, it seems we’re often cherishing our own perspectives and fighting against those others are offering. If we’re always seeing things through our own eyes, assigning our own meaning, can we ever hear what others say?

It just seems that a lot of these things take work on both sides – this whole give and take of sharing reality. Working on clarifying our own understanding of life and motivation within it seems valuable. Developing our communication skills so others stand a better chance of hearing what we say seems a worthwhile use of time. Patiently finding new ways to convey what matters, even if others don’t see it, is probably important.

Because people’s intentions surely do matter? Our understanding, awareness, concern, and the kind of values we’re basing our lives on must count for a lot in the bigger scheme of things. Those qualities might be imperfectly delivered, expressed or executed, but surely it matters that they’re there?

Notes and References:

Note 1: Going towards the unknown
Note 1: Letting people change
Note 1: Frameworks of how we relate
Note 1: Authenticity & writing our own story
Note 1: Whether we make a difference

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