Today, I want to share my thoughts that have been swirling around intention, impact, and grief and how they’re intertwined.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a phrase that came up during training I recently participated in. It was “Understand the difference between intention and impact.” I knew I wanted to write about it but wasn’t sure how I would approach it, given the context in which the phrase was used in the class and that I’ve since seen online. If you haven’t heard this, it’s a phrase typically shared when conversations involve QBIPOC (Queer, Black, Indigenous, People of Color).
As a white woman in the midwest, “Who gives a rip what I think?” could’ve been my stance, and said the heck with it, and completely decide not to address it. However, I will present this with my thoughts (and opinions) while wearing my Adv. Cert. Grief Recovery Specialist hat on, offering my thoughts on what I see happening from my empathetic perspective.
According to the dictionary, intention is a thing intended, an aim or plan. Interestingly, it’s also the healing process of a wound (which makes me think about Reiki, which is all about intentional healing).
Wikipedia says intention is a mental state representing a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future. Intention involves mental activities such as planning and forethought.
The dictionary defines impact as the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another. As a verb, it is to have a strong effect on someone or something.
The importance of understanding the difference between intention and impact is an idea that could apply to all sorts of scenarios, including grief. And, when it comes to the situations and issues QBIPOC faces, which I won’t even pretend I know, I imagine that grief has a strong presence in their lives.
Grief doesn’t care about how you identify yourself, the color of your skin, where you grew up, or about your ancestry.
GRIEF DOES NOT CARE
Let’s strip down the many issues in society today down to one word – GRIEF, and address that – with compassion and individual action.
Regardless of where, when, or how it originated, your grief is important because it is yours. But, your grief is not like my grief, just as your grief is going to be different than every other person, regardless of how similar the experience.
Collectively, there is a lot of grief. However, again, it’s important to reiterate that grief is individual.
And, no matter where, why, or how it originated, there is only one person who can do the inner-work – you.
How we raise the collective vibration of this world, elevate our lives, and harness our pain is for each person to sweep their own doorstep individually.
No amount of rallying around me, no amount of pat on the backs, or offers of help or understanding was going to change my situation without me doing my part. The cyclical patterns and behaviors I repeated for over thirty years did not change until I DECIDED to do something about what was happening and what I was feeling.
Do I understand that there is a privilege in writing this as a white woman living in the midwest? Absolutely. If you’re reading this on your smartphone or computer, you, too, have privilege. Privilege exists across all races, social classes, and even between males and females.
Intention versus Impact and Grief
So, let’s get back to this idea of intention versus impact as it relates to grief (which is individual, remember) and all of the issues we face in society today.
I do not intend to offend with this blog post today. However, I may not know the impact it will have on someone reading it unless I hear from someone that specifically shares the impact it had on them. I am not a mind reader; no one is. But, there’s a level of sensitivity that I wish to honor and express. Will I get it perfect? No. Will you get it perfect? No. I intend to speak from a place of empathy, love, and compassion. Despite my beliefs or thoughts around any number of issues, I can choose to show empathy, love, and compassion, despite what I believe to be true for me.
Just as people who have never experienced grief to the extent of someone else may not know what to say, how to say it, or how to show up for that person, I can’t begin to claim to understand the personal experience of the QBIPOC community. So, there may be things I say or do that may be offensive without me realizing it because I don’t have that same personal experience. I have heard so many stories repeatedly about the absurd, hurtful, and harmful things people (of all walks of life and ethnicities and backgrounds) have said to grievers – simply not knowing any better, which is why I am so passionate about educating about grief. Again, grief does not care who you are, where you’re from, or what you look like.
Empathy plays a major role in societal issues today, too. Because not everyone has the strength of empathy, which, yes, is a strength, some people have it more than others. Because of mental illness, some people may not have it at all or little of it. It’s not an excuse for behavior, but it is a reality for many people. It’s also a reality you cannot see just by looking at someone. When it comes to sharing the message (or argument) of understanding the difference between intention and impact, it’s also important to realize that all of us are a product of our upbringing. We don’t ask for the families, beliefs, or indoctrination we’re born into. We don’t ask for our skin color either. Every human goes about this world trying to find where each fits, all the while fighting individual internal demons and internal struggles. Not to mention ancestral grief passed down, stacked on top of all of the grief we accumulate over our lifetime as well.
Considering that in a study conducted in 2017 that states 792 million people worldwide (or slightly more than one in ten) live with a mental health disorder, screaming to the masses about intention versus impact isn’t ever going to solve anything. Also, there’s fascinating research on the brain that describes how, as newborns, our brains develop based on our environment. I recently listened to this podcast episode where Lisa Feldman Barrett, who is in the top one percent of most-cited scientists globally for her revolutionary research in psychology and neuroscience, shares more facts and fiction about the brain. I couldn’t help but think about how misunderstood so many people probably feel in our world due to our own internal wiring.
All of this being said, every one of us can treat everyone we meet with compassion. I can write from a place of compassion in my heart. You could look at someone and see them as a child, asking yourself how you would speak to that person if they were a child standing before you?
What if, instead of seeing how we’re different, we’d instead see each other as grievers and children who are products of our upbringing. And show and give compassion. Be open to hearing the stories of each other. Be open to learning and teaching from personal experiences rather than those of a group. And be open to connection.
Grief Is a Catalyst For Disconnection
The crux of connection? It’s tough to develop a connection to others as long as we’re disconnected from ourselves.
Do you feel like you’re going crazy?
Do you feel like a foreigner in your own body?
Do you feel uncomfortable in your own skin?
If you answered yes to these questions, you’re likely experiencing grief.
How, then, can you ever see others with compassion and be fully present in your own life if your own pain consumes you?
Many issues in our society today could be solved if each of us put the intention of healing into our own hearts and worried less about whatever everyone else is doing or saying.
When you have a broken bone, you don’t hesitate to go to the doctor. Regardless of the cost, you see a doctor who can help you heal your broken bone. When you have a tooth that is causing you so much pain you can’t sleep at night, you go to the dentist to rid yourself of the relentless pain. Why, then, would you not honor the pain in your heart the same way? A pill is not going to rid your heart of its emotional pain any more than if I gave you a Tylenol when you should have a root canal. The Tylenol may numb some of the pain, but it’s only a band-aid solution.
And, this is where grief recovery is different. It’s not a band-aid solution. Grief recovery gets to the root of the emotional pain. Grief recovery ends the daily suffering. Does it end the sadness when you think of the person? No. But, sadness, because you loved and lost, is a much different life experience than feeling the physical and psychological torture and suffering because of the loss. See the difference? This is also no different if the relationship was less than loving and whether they are dead or still living. We experience grief at 100%, too, when it was a toxic, harmful relationship. As a result, a griever can feel a loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations and things they wish would’ve been different, better, or more for the relationship.
You’re already suffering; you may as well suffer while moving your feet and taking action toward healing.
If you believe that “we are one,” then look in the mirror, friend. What impacts one impacts all.
Grief Is a Ripple Creator, So Is Healing
Rising tides lift all boats.
Focus on raising your tide and watch the ripples of that in your life.
Find a way. It’s up to you.
And find support. It’s your individual choice to ask for help.
But, this notion that people need to understand the difference between intention and impact, “get woke,” or any other buzzphrase catching fire these days, is somewhat of a moot point if, all the while, people aren’t sweeping their own doorstep. In fact, I would argue that all of the outward screamings to the masses is an outcry of inner turmoil, a projecting of inner pain, and a whole lot of generational, ancestral, and personal grief imploding and exploding.
And, addressing all of that? Well, that’s an inside job.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: GRIEF IS OUR PANDEMIC. It always has been and forever will be until we become “woke” to that fact as individuals.
What is the impact of this post on your heart today? Did it stir up some emotions? I imagine it likely did.
The impact I hope to have and share is this: You have so much power within you to change the trajectory of your life, regardless of your circumstances and upbringing. People do not rise above their circumstances by accepting what was and what is. I have interviewed people from all walks of life and backgrounds for my podcast who have created a life of joy and are thriving, despite their upbringing, gender, geographic location, sexual preference, skin color, or grief they’ve experienced in their lives. Incredible humans have crossed my path, which took their life experience in their hands and took action in some way – to heal themselves – not their neighbor, best friend, spouse/significant other, brother, sister, parent, etc. – they addressed their own heart. And, if you need more examples (and does of inspiration) of people doing this from the direst of circumstances, head to a library to read books written by countless more who have done the same.
The impact you choose to have in your life is in your hands—no one else’s. Likewise, the grief you have in your life is yours alone to heal. And, when you’re ready to do that, I’m here for you.
I continue to do my own inner work, too. We are meant to evolve and grow. As one of my guests shared on the podcast recently: “When you lay, you decay.”
How about we work to, individually, create impact, with intentional healing, in our own lives. That’s when, I believe, we’ll start to see ripples of change.
Sending you love and light today.
P.S. Are you interested in hearing more on the topic of the ripples of grief and healing? I released a solo podcast episode on this topic in early March. And, if you want to hear grief described and defined in a way you’ve never heard it before (if you’re new here), then check out the other episode below, too.
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