Paved with good intentions, your path to hell begins with the quest to make a change. Few are successful, while many find themselves scorched in a pit of excuses. Do your 'good intentions' have ulterior motives? Do they rely heavily on expected outcomes? Do they sabotage your self-esteem when you fail to follow through? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, keep reading.
British writer Aldous Huxley stated, "Hell isn't merely paved with good intentions; it is walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too."
It is not a crime to have a good intention. What is criminal however is to tell yourself you will do something, and then wallow in self-pity because you didn't, or suffer because the outcome was not what you had hoped. The internal conflict of good intention versus the actual truth may be what paves the road to hell, or according to Huxley, builds the entire house of hades.
The following are a few thoughts to consider when setting good intentions, so you can avoid the paved road to hell and keep yourself from getting burned.
Obviously this is a lot easier said than done, but knowing the root of your intentions will help shed light on the subject. When you understand and accept the real motivation behind your good intention it will either wilt or bloom, depending on its source. Ask yourself if your good intentions are born out of insecurity, guilt, or a need to reckon with the past. If you are on the endless quest to be validated by a judgmental parent, need to atone for something you did wrong, or seek revenge because you just can't seem to let go, take my advice and drop your need to make things right. Intentions like these will only serve to frustrate you, especially if you don't get what you want. You are better off spending your precious time and energy working on healing yourself. By doing this, your intentions will come from the heart, in conflict-free alignment with your life.
Don't Expect a Result
Setting an intention solely on the outcome is like driving in the fast lane to the devil's homeland. Never intend to do something based on the result, because more often than not, there will be someone or something that will thwart your good intentions, creating a different outcome than what you initially expected. Have you ever cleaned the house with the intention of having a clean house? Of course, we all have. But the minute the dog or your spouse traipses across the floor with dirty feet, you're back in hell, steeping in anger and disgust. Instead, simply intend, undertake, and move on. Do not waste your time loving or loathing the results because they don't always last.
Keep it Private
Many self help books, diet gurus and counselors suggest sharing your good intentions with others so you are held accountable for your actions. That is all well and good until you cross paths with your confidants, wishing there was some sand nearby for you to bury your head in when you fail at the follow-through. It is not worth the stress and agony of worrying what others might think if you turn, or do not turn your intention into a reality. Keeping your intentions private is not a cop out. It instills a genuine yearning to meet your goals in your own special way, in your own amount of time, without unnecessary judgement from those who care less about your success. When you practice being accountable for your own actions, you take a personal interest in them. This helps strengthen your conviction without putting yourself up against the debilitating influence of others.
Balance the scales between your good intentions and the reality of what you are honestly setting out to do or make happen. Be genuine and free from the need for validation or expected outcomes. Let your 'good intentions' align with your inner truth, and notice how far your journey will take you off the paved road to hell.
Article adapted from a previously published article by Jill Lawson in the Huffington Post, September 15th, 2011