Imagine two big spotlights. One is pointed upward, casting light far into the air. The other is pointed downward and buried into the earth - no light is cast at all.
This is like intent.
There are only two possible intentions in any given moment: the intent to learn about loving yourself and others, and the intent to protect against pain with some form of controlling behavior.
When you consciously choose the intent to learn, your light points upward, shining upon the truth that will guide you in your highest good. Your mind opens and becomes a receiver of the information you need to support yourself in manifesting your dreams. Consciously choosing the intent to learn is the most powerful thing we can do. When we consciously choose the intent to learn, we open ourselves to our Higher Self - the part of us that connects us with the information and creativity in the universe.
When we unconsciously choose the intent to control, we shut off access to truth. Our mind closes and becomes like a closed circuit TV - recycling the old information that has been programmed into our mind. We become stuck in our limited mind, operating from the false beliefs that we learned as we were growing up. We become stuck in the past, recreating old hurts.
The challenge here is that our unconscious automatic choice is to control. When we were growing up, we all had to learn many ways to control to survive the challenges of childhood. We learned ways of trying to have control over how people feel about us and treat us, such as anger, blame, judgment, righteousness, or compliance. We learned ways to protect against losing ourselves to another's control, such as resisting or withdrawing. We learned many addictive ways of avoiding feeling our pain, such using food, drugs, alcohol, TV, Internet, sex, work, sports, gambling, shopping, self-judgment, and so on - all to have control over not feeling our painful feelings.
Most people immediately, and unconsciously, choose the intent to control the moment they feel any anxiety. The problem is that the intent to control is self-abandonment, always causing even more fear, anxiety or depression. Instead of shining the light of love upon your distress in order to learn and heal, you shove the light into the ground, causing more darkness.
Choosing your intent is the essence of free will, and it determines what you feel and what you manifest. While you might have momentary pleasure when something good happens, the deep joy and wellbeing that we all seek, and the ability to manifest your dreams, is the result of your intent to learn about loving yourself and others.
The challenge in our lives is to REMEMBER that we are at choice - to remember to choose the intent to learn.
How can you remember to consciously choose the intent to learn? How can you remember, the moment you feel any fear, anxiety, or any stress, to open to learning about what you are thinking or doing that is creating this stress? What can you do to stop your automatic reactive controlling behavior?
First of all, you need to accept that this is a lifetime practice - not something that will occur quickly. We have all been practicing the intent to control for most of our lives, so it will take much practice to even remember that there is another choice.
The place to start is to practice noticing your feelings throughout a day. Perhaps wearing a rubber band that you can snap on your wrist will remind you to check inside to see how you are feeling. You cannot begin to learn about your thoughts and actions that are causing your feelings until you are aware of your painful feelings. You cannot stop your addictive anesthetics until you are WILLING to feel your feelings and take responsibility for them.
If you decide that you are willing to feel your feelings, that willingness will lead you to becoming more and more conscious of your feelings. This is the beginning of being able to consciously choose your intent to learn.