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The Amazing Power of Intention

As preparation for writing The Quest for Authentic Power: Getting Past Manipulation, Control, and Self-Limiting Beliefs, I undertook training in a variety of therapeutic techniques including Craniosacral Therapy, Therapeutic Touch, and several approaches to counseling.

September 17, 2009  By G. Ross Lawford

As preparation for writing The Quest for Authentic Power: Getting Past Manipulation, Control, and Self-Limiting Beliefs, I undertook training in a variety of therapeutic techniques including Craniosacral Therapy, Therapeutic Touch, and several approaches to counseling.

What I discovered was that, in the final analysis, regardless of the specific technique I employed, what I did with my hands, or what I said, the most important determinant of therapeutic effectiveness was always the intention with which I approached the therapy.



Later, I came to realize that the amazing power of intention could be brought to bear on virtually any action or situation. In fact, the thoughts that pass through a person’s mind, sometimes even without conscious awareness, have more far-reaching effects than most of us realize.

Intentions, which are just a particular kind of thought, can be used to create the outcomes we want, and to do this in a way that is both sustainable and almost effortless.


These outcomes include the things our hearts most desire such as love, peace of mind, as well as a sense
of purpose and fulfillment.

Intentions can be used to heal one’s self and others; they can be used to create loving relationships, works of art, or a better world. On a more mundane level, intentions are useful in producing a specific outcome from a meeting, a sales call, an interview, or any interaction whether with a spouse, boss, employee, child, etc.

There are three basic components to an intention:

  • an identified goal or outcome (the “what?” component)
  • the strength of commitment to that outcome (“how serious” are you about achieving it?)
  • the motivation behind the desired outcome (the “why?” component)

Each of these three components requires special
attention, or else like so many of our “good intentions,” the results will be disappointing, perhaps even the
opposite of what we wanted.

Be clear about the outcome
It is important that the desired outcome be specific enough that the mind/body be able to clearly visualize it and experience it as already accomplished. This keeps the mind from jumping to questions of how to accomplish the goal, or focusing on the barriers that may stand in the way.

Sometimes our stated or conscious intention co-exists with other competing or mutually exclusive intentions of which we may not even be aware.

When this happens, the power of the stated intention gets diluted or even overcome by the power of these other thoughts that lurk in the background

High commitment levels produce strong intentions
The strength of an intention is often indicated by the words we use in stating it. “I’ll try to …” and “I hope
to …,” for example, betray a low level of commitment. You are giving yourself permission not to achieve the goal. On the contrary, words like “I’ll do whatever it takes to …” signal a strong intention, and therefore one that is much more likely to be achieved.

Even intentions to which you have a high level of commitment can end up weak and ineffectual if countervailing thoughts coexist. What makes these competing thoughts especially damaging and hard to deal with is that frequently they occur below the level of our consciousness.

For example, the subconscious belief that my desired outcome is unattainable or that I don’t deserve to succeed will give rise to thoughts that reduce the strength of my stated intention, perhaps to the point of impotence. It is important, therefore, to try to bring to consciousness any competing thoughts and then, having decided which outcome you really want to create, to minimize any thoughts that could block that outcome.
Be honest with yourself about “why”
Before rushing into action or considering the “how to” questions it is important to be quite clear on the “why” question. Not only can one have mutually exclusive outcomes in mind, for each outcome there may also be several different motivations (including some of which we are not consciously aware) acting at the same time.

Each of these motivations acts as a separate intention even though they may all share the same desired outcome.

To simplify matters, I suggest that you think of motivations as arising from one of two sources: your ego or your authentic Self. Motivations originating in the ego are usually expressed in terms of fear, guilt, “shoulds” or “oughts,” or getting something.

The outcomes of intentions motivated by the ego are not as powerful as those originating in the authentic Self in that they bring no lasting sense of satisfaction. This is because they cannot deliver what we all ultimately want – the peace of mind that comes with feeling worthy, being valued and loved, and having a sense of fulfillment.

The power of a strong, clear intention, which is also aligned with your unique purpose as represented by the authentic Self, is freely available to everyone.

It doesn’t have to be earned or won because it comes from within. All that is necessary to realize this innate power is the courage to put aside all the ego-generated masks, persona, and beliefs that are keeping your authentic Self largely hidden and inoperative.

Replace control with trust

Having given proper attention to all three aspects of your intention, it is only necessary to release control and trust your intention to carry you towards your goal. The path and the opportunities will present themselves to you. All you need to do is watch for them.

G. Ross Lawford, Ph.D. is a Toronto-based consultant and life-style coach.  He works with individuals and organizations helping people in their quest for meaning, fulfillment, and well-being. He is author of The Quest for Authentic Power: Getting Past Manipulation, Control and Self-Limiting Beliefs, Berrett-Koehler Publishers. He may be reached at

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