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Why it is Important to Set an Intention for Peace in Your Relationship

Women's peace marchIn the past few weeks we have been writing about peace and how it is a visceral, actual reality to be lived and spread. You can find peace like that in your relationships with other people, whether in an existing relationship, in a new one, or just with all people. The first stage of experiencing this reality is to have the intention to do so.

Lawrence and Rita Gelber have created a wonderful global project to spread and further peace. The “I Declare World Peace” project, founded in 2010, is a power-of-intention worldwide art experiment that seeks to spread the phrase “I Declare World Peace” and raise global peace consciousness.

Just as this project of intention works on a global scale, many of us have a number of practices that bring the intention for peace into our daily lives: some meditate regularly, some write intentions in journals, and some do affirmations of gratitude each morning. These help us to manifest our intention. Great quotes with which to start each day in a calm peaceful frame are:

This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before. – Maya Angelou

It’s morning, and again I am that lucky person who is in it. – Mary Oliver

This need for a peace intention on a global scale, as well as for our individual selves, holds the same importance in our relationships. Whether you are developing a new relationship or wanting to improve a long standing one, an intention for peaceful loving interactions is the place to start. And yet, people so often don’t see this as realistic, and fall into different habitual patterns of behavior.

The good news is it’s never too late. With the awareness that there are better possibilities, you can start anytime to apply an intention of peace in your relationships. It starts with accepting that the other person is who they are. What they do and say is their choice. You shouldn’t interfere in that. (You’ve probably learned that you can’t change people, anyway.) You don’t have to like it, either. This is where the work begins. Does that dislike come from within you, or is it really something unacceptable about the other person? That’s certainly possible, though unlikely because most people are doing the best they can.

Of course, acceptance doesn’t happen just like that. It’s intention that gives us the impetus to change. There is a learning curve in applying this, as with any change, and this is usually accompanied by some degree of discomfort. We are all in our present position in life because it is the most comfortable state we have found (if you like math, think of it as a local minimum), and we need to move out of our comfort zone to discover a new and better place to reside. It takes a while to get over that bump of altering course, so take that feeling as a marker that you are moving in the right direction. Over time, the intention to change will become stronger, and the discomfort lessen. Mindfulness practice is of great help here.

In any relationship, you will derive the most success if both of you have this intention and actually discuss and speak it aloud to each other. It is something that bears repeating regularly, especially initially, to help you both remain aware of your mutual intent. Knowing you share this and speaking it will bring a new sense of purpose and connection to all your interactions.

Sometimes the other person may not be willing to try this. Even then, you can still manifest your personal intention toward peaceful relations. You have the opportunity to change things by the way you respond. By accepting how your partner is and not trying to change them, you remove blame from the situation. If the other person is argumentative or drawn toward always being right, let it be and don’t go along for the ride. You can’t change other’s actions, but you can change your own. Do not be reactive and don’t come from habitual patterns. Your different response will alter the dynamics of the exchange.

We have based our relationship on this intention to experience peace as a living reality in our lives and set it as one of our highest values. This underlies everything and is a constant that occurs so naturally by now, that it is often difficult to describe. If you seek such a reality in your relationships, know that it is both possible and that it is attainable. It starts with your intention to do so.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Photo note: Women’s anti-war march, Santa Barbara, January 2003.

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week, we discussed why it is important to set an intention for peace in your relationship. Here are some other thoughts about the benefits of living intentionally.

Achieve Emotional Balance Through Living with Intention "Did you know that just by changing the way you think and process the world around you, you can mitigate stress, get more out of your day, and achieve emotional balance? You become whatever you think about all day long; meaning stress is heightened when you think stressful thoughts. If your mind is always focused on feeling stress, you won’t have room for more productive thought processes. If you want to achieve emotional balance, the best place to start is with honest, non-judgemental self-reflection."

The Intention of Peace "'Peace' is one of my favorite words. It has a bit of onomatopoeia to it – you know, a word that sounds likes its meaning, like 'buzz' or 'hiss.' When I say the word 'peace' I become more peaceful. I take a deep breath and exhale on the first sound of the word, and the sibilant at the end takes the rest of my breath. 'Peace.' I imagine Jesus doing this with his fearful disciples in the upper room."

Intention Setting 101 "An intention is a guiding principle for how you want to be, live, and show up in the world — whether at work, in relationships, during your meditation, or in any area of your life. Ask yourself, what matters most to you? Your answer could form a powerful intention, for which you can align your thoughts and attitude for the day ahead."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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