Positive intent is approaching others with the
conviction and belief that they are just trying to take care of
themselves in the best way they know. Sometimes with
children, that can look like a raging fit or an icy silence. The
ultimate goal is to teach and model healthy ways to express
emotions, but that takes a lot of repetition, time, self
awareness, and energy. We will be more successful with that
when we approach our children or anyone else in life with the
underlying belief of positive intent. Bailey says it like this, “The
truth is that we make up motivations. How we choose to make
them up effects both the person we attribute the motives to
and ourselves. If you make up negative motives you will be
guarded, ready for defense, or attack. If you make up positive
motives, you will be relaxed and calm.”26
This is definitely easier said than done, but after putting
this idea into practice every now and then, I see the truth and
wisdom in it. A few years later, I experienced the power of
positive intent in the very same Target with the very same clerk.
I brought three reusable bags up to the register. She chose the
smallest of the bags and with great determination and effort,
stuffed all of the items into this one bag. It was overflowing. I
offered another bag at one point, and she actively shook her
head and with seeming delight said, “no.” She was going to get
them all into the one bag. On some days, this would have
irritated me. On that day, I was in a relatively Zen kind of place
and told myself a list of possible explanations for her actions:
maybe she likes a bagging challenge; she is saving Target a
nickel or two; maybe she gets a bonus for this kind of thing; I
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