Entries in choosing (2)



I have recently had a number of my patients say that they know that a person [family member or friend] had good intentions but that what they said or did was not helpful. So, what is wrong with good intentions? Most people are familiar with the proverb [aphorism?] that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This has been explained as it is not enough to intend to do good things but one must actually do them.  Another has to do with possible unintended consequences after one acts on their good intentions. It seems that one can have good intentions for themselves as well as for others. So, it is considered bad if we have good intentions but never act on those intentions. This may be true for good intentions for ourselves but my concern is that good intentions for others may represent thinking we know what is best for others and by acting on these intentions end up taking over and making it harder for others to make decisions for themselves.  

I believe that we can't know what is best for other people because we are not them. People must take responsibility for themselves and make their own decisions. There seems to be no other way to live our lives.  Related to this, I have blogged a number of times about the importance of being supportive and encouraging towards others but to not tell others what to do or take over for them in any way, no mattter how good our intentions are. I believe that we must choose how we will live our lives and that this is easier if we are connected to others who are supportive and encouraging but respect our independence.  

What do you think?



Regarding our relationship to God, I have often wondered about what we ask for and why we seem to ask for what we already have, or at least are freely given.  I first thought about this when I became aware of how often Christian religions encourage their congregations to say prayers that ask for things that are already freely given.  So, why is this?  Is it a way of reminding people of what is being offered to them already?  Is it a way to strengthen someone's knowledge of doctrine so they will be more obedient? Or, is it a way of avoiding facing the responsibility that each person has [according to my understanding of the belief systems that represent Christianity today] to choose to accept what is offered freely to them. It appears that each person's choosing is critical to their opening thenselves up to receive what is freely offered.

In my work with people who come to me for help, they frequently avoid making choices that would help themselves and instead they take on responsibility for others. This taking on responsibility for others seems motivated by fears that things will get worse if they don't do this.  Their lives are then occupied with worries about what others will do that could end up making things worse.  This worry will then close them off from being able to choose to accept something for themselves, especially something that is freely given. If we live our lives feeling at the mercy of what others do, then we will not trust that anything can be freely given and we will believe that we are at the mercy of others [God?], and have to hope that what we need will be given to us, undeserving as we feel we are. Of course, since we only give to others as they are our responsibility, we can not have any needs ourselves.  So, forget having your needs recognized and responded to.

You might be able to tell now why I am concerned about how we pray as it seems that often we pray not that we will make the right choice and choose to accept and embrace what is offered to us, but instead pray to be given what we already have as if our choosing will do nothing.

It did occur to me that it might be hard to come up with ways to pray that focuses on our choosing and accepting what is freely given to us.  Of course, one prayer could be simply "please help me to choose what is offered to me." Another could be "open my heart to choose and accept what is offered to me and share this with others."  Another could be "help me to set aside my worries and fears that I might choose to accept what you offer to me and become stronger in my faith and hope and love."

In my work with people who come to me for help, I encourage them to choose to accept themselves and their strengths and then share these with others. You could say that their abilities are freely given to them and that choosing to see those abilties and then use them is similar to the prayers I have written above.  To be able to care about and love others, it seems that you have to be accepting and loving towards yourself first.

Therefore, how someone prays can make a big difference in how they feel about themselves and their fellow homo sapien sapiens, [and really all living things]. What do you think?