Assuming Positive Intention

I always know Frank and I are too busy when things that are done from a place of help and love feel like they’re done out of selfishness and habit. When Frank leaves a cup in the sink and I immediately think that he did it on purpose to add to my workload, I know we need to pause and spend the evening talking rather than reading or looking at our phones.

IMG_8176I don’t remember where I first heard (or more likely read) the phrase, positive intention but I’ve been trying to root myself in that more. Essentially it means that, before jumping to conclusions about a behavior, you assume the person is acting out of help rather than hurt. So, when Frank leaves his mug in the sink, I would assume it’s because he decided to help one of the girls and got distracted, rather than thinking he would like to create one more thing for me to do in the morning.

Assuming positive intention means I look at the playroom chaos and see creativity rather than mess. It means I read a Facebook post from a friend and assume a different life experience rather than anger or hatred. It means I read the news through the lens of hope rather than despair.

Of course, sometimes the intention isn’t positive and then I shift gears. Sometimes, the playroom is messy because the girls choose not to follow directions to pick it up. Sometimes, the mug is put away because Frank doesn’t see the sink in the same way I do. Sometimes the news really is bad. And then we talk and problem solve.

But when I go into a situation assuming this positive motive, my whole mindset has already shifted. Maybe I still have to deal with something but because I’m not assuming the worst, my reaction is different. I’m still working on this – it’s definitely not my first response. My hope is that, with practice, it becomes second nature and I start to see the world first and foremost as a place of hope and creativity.

What are some areas of your life you could practice seeing positive intention? If you already do this, how have you seen a shift in your worldview?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “intentional.”

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20 thoughts on “Assuming Positive Intention

  1. Love this. We do jump to conclusions. I’ve learned over the years not to jump to the conclusion of what my man is thinking because I’m usually wrong. Your neighbor today at Kate’s.

  2. Thanks, Annie! I enjoyed your post this morning… I’m so sorry I think I forgot and left a dish in the sink this morning (never intentionally to add to your workload!!) 🙂 Love you!

  3. Sadly, with those we work with our first instinct is a negative intention and proved too often true. But that can’t be the same for life and something I need to work on. Thanks, Annie.

    1. Oh, I understand this. Appearances and circumstance make me assume so much. (At least, in a classroom setting. I’d imagine it’s similar…) Learning to dig a bit deeper into stories.

    1. Always easier said than done!! 😉 But I’m learning that practice is just as important as success. It’s slow going but part of the journey… Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Oh Annie, I love this post. And the way you choose to shift your perspective. How needful that is in our world. And in my home. I especially need to remember this when interacting with our boys. They simply don’t “see” things. Like dishes left on the table when they go to do something after a meal…or socks left in the family room. I need to remember they don’t leave them there to drive me crazy. I need to offer grace and patience. they’ve got a lot they’re sorting out right now. Having a positive intention mindset is a great idea.

    Thank you for sharing this, my wise friend!

    1. It’s so hard to not view the mess as an intentional disruption to me!! It’s part of play and growing and I’m learning to pick my battles. Such a fine balance, right?

  5. So glad you wrote this. It’s a cluttered world with noise and chaos but as we walk Spirit-filled, we can just about handle what the flesh would not allow us to. Thank you for shifting your view and making grace intentional.

  6. I’ve heard this referred to also as a “lens” as in the lens we choose on our camera to the world. And yes, giving people the benefit of a positive intention can avoid many misunderstandings and hurts.

    1. Yes! Shifting our focus and lens makes all the difference, doesn’t it? Remembering that we live in a hurt world helps shift my focus to empathy… Thanks for stopping by!

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