It was 8:50am. Jayeff sat in the passenger seat of my car as we crawled toward downtown Los Angeles on our way to teach another Life Skills class. A little daylight opened up in the fast lane and a luxury car jammed its way into the space, then zigzagged to cut in front of me, hoping to find another opening, propelling him to his destination more quickly.
Jayeff and I caught our breath at the reckless behavior. I remarked that he sure was in a big hurry. She said, “He must be late for work….” and I finished with, “…and he’s going to get fired if he’s late one more time!” She said, “He’s the sole provider for his family” and I continued, “I sure hope he makes it safely and on time!”
The skill we would be teaching, in a matter of minutes, was Positive Intent–the very skill we practiced in the car to keep our composure and manage self-control.
Are you a mind reader? Probably not.
I don’t know why that driver was in such a hurry, but since I was making up his intent, “Why in the world would I want to attribute an intent that results in nasty feelings for me? I can just as easily attribute positive intent to these situations and reap positive emotions.” (Dr. Becky Bailey)
Negative intent is ingrained in most of us.
Dr. Bailey writes, “The habit of attributing negative intent is so ingrained in most of us that it is difficult at times to recognize, much less reframe positively.”
I got to thinking: Have I practiced negative intent with God?
Most of us have formed an image of God. When we judged God’s nature, we harvested a bushel of emotions about this higher power. When we attribute negative intent to God, the emotions we experience toward God are equally negative.
Give God the benefit of the doubt
Seeing the best in God is the only perceptual frame that will enable us to connect with this supreme being, rather than projecting guilt, hurt and other negative feelings onto God. We can just as easily attribute positive intent to these situations and reap positive emotions.
Impress it upon the children
With positive intent we can transform the way a child’s experiences God. My parents did this for me, making it possible for me to form a deep, enduring connection with the one who loves us all.
Note: Becky Bailey’s lesson on the skill of Positive Intent inspired me to ponder its effect on human connections with God.
Tweetable: We try to give the benefit of the doubt to people. What would happen if we extended it to God? Click to Tweet