Emotion and Intention

An act is a decision made
As each intent is a choice

Everything I do is an active action
Not a reaction dictated by law

The responsibility rests on me
The consequence is of my doing

I decide on my conduct
I blame no other for my fortune

One lesson that I remember and treasure from my dear father was the importance of intention. Compared to his other reminders, it’s not often that he told me to ‘jaga niat’ (be sure of your intention) but it is something that resonated with me even as an impetuous teenager.

Frustration and impatience are two of my weakness that often lead me to do things that I would seriously question retrospectively. Every now and then I like to sit down and think about cause and effect, sometimes pertaining to my own thoughts and action. And most of the things that I do that I feel ashamed to admit would stem from a sense of long harboured frustration and a general sense of impatience at the way things unfold.

Have you ever done something that you don’t particularly feel good about, big or small, if you strip all the context surrounding it? Perhaps you heard your mother calling for you but you ignored it, just this once, because she had believed in your brother in an argument and punished you unfairly? Or perhaps you throw out that reusable plastic bag because everyone else is throwing them anyway and your single action means nothing in the large scheme of things? Or maybe you use your authority over someone, who you believe have hurt you, to make them suffer the same pain you do?

Looking in from the wider perspective without actually living in the same body and mind, all of these reasons may sound petty or insufficient. However, when your heart is full of the emotion at the injustice thrown in your face or when your head is too full of thoughts that you can’t be bothered to pay attention to small inconveniences, a lot of options that seemed unthinkable before, now seems absolutely justified.

There are also times when my frustration and impatience can manifest into apathy, fear or lethargy. I would be lying if I say that I never look back at the things that I have loved and lost and, not knowing how to deal with it, I would shut that part of me down and refuse to do anything related to it. Or even look at daunting tasks ahead and thought that had the past been different, things would be a lot easier; and then have it drain all my energy.

It is during these times that I am most vulnerable to follow the whispers of indignation and begin to blur the lines between emotion and action.

Your actions are always preceded by intention and yes, more often than not, it is emotion that guides said intention but guide is all it does. It is your ‘Aql, your sense of reason, that sets the intention. And although some of us are born with a stronger reign over our emotions, every sane person has been blessed with the gift of reasoning – every single one.

I am far, far from being the kind of person I hope to be but Insya Allah, this little reminder would help me to remember the responsibility that I have over my actions, my intentions and my thoughts.