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Black & White

Artist Denise A Wells
Artist Denise A Wells

Life would be so much easier if there wasn’t any Gray. If we just knew what was right and what was wrong, decisions would be made with extreme clarity which would result in a certain satisfaction that would allow all those good hormones to flow through our bodies. We would have rules about the rightness or the wrongness of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. There would be no ambiguity and no angst and second guessing about our decisions.

But alas, we are human beings, living in an imperfect world being impacted by imperfect behaviors, thoughts, and feelings from other imperfect human beings, societies, schools of thought, religious institutions, and other cultures. How do we imperfect creatures insure that we do the right thing, help the right person or cause, love the right person, etc.? How do we stop beating ourselves up, if in hindsight, we discover that we have erred?

I have learned from my teacher that Motive and Intent is the marker by which we may be able to forgive ourselves for perceived mistakes, misunderstandings, misbehavior, or confusion. What does that really mean? It is an examination of our heart and its desire to “share” a message. A simple example of that might be wanting to let someone know that something they said hurt your feelings. However, the communication of that may be done in a shaming way so that the recipient of the message feels they are a bad person. They may respond unconsciously to their shame by reacting strongly and defensively. The motive and intent was to communicate your hurt feelings and process the incident to clear it, but the person didn’t get that message because they felt shamed. Your motive and intent were not to hurt that person.

Understanding motive and intent is all about the Grays. It is about recognizing that there are no simple, hard and fast rules that can run the human experience. When we insist on a right or a wrong, we are stuck in our childhood. We learned as children the simple differentiations between right and wrong, and parents often used that concept to teach us how to behave and think. However, as we mature, the goal is to understand the complexities of human thought and behavior.

Because you can recognize your motive and intent, you don’t have to shame yourself with your own imperfection. After all, perfection is not possible in the human body. We are a beautifully intricate fusion of all we have met and all we have learned from. Motive and intent is about letting go of judgment and forgiveness of others, and most importantly, forgiveness of the self.