If you predict what you expect to happen next in the world or in your life, does that mean that you’re also putting out an intention to make it so?

Here’s how I like to frame this:

  • A prediction is an acknowledgement and mental exploration of an existing offer. This could be an offer from reality, from other people, or from ourselves.
  • An intention is an offer itself, which could be an existing offer; a counter-offer to an existing offer; or a fresh, new offer.

When I make predictions about what reality might do next, such as I shared in yesterday’s article on finding comfort in predictions, I’m considering and pondering what I perceive to be different aspects of reality’s current offer.

I don’t equate predictions with intentions. One difference between them is desire. When I form an intention, I desire it. I want to experience it. When I’m making a prediction, sometimes I’m just considering the offer and trying to understand it better. It’s like reading a proposed contract from reality. Reading a contract is just reading. It doesn’t mean I want the deal to happen yet. Being curious about an offer doesn’t imply an intention, just as reading a contract doesn’t imply that a deal is inevitable.

When we make predictions about where reality is going or where are lives are heading, we’re reading, looking, and listening. We’re paying attention to flows of energy and matter. We’re looking at data and getting a sense of how it’s changing over time. We’re trying to come up with good models to explain what’s happening, and then we apply those models to make reasoned projections about the future.

We can turn this attention outward and make predictions about the world. Or we can make more personal predictions and consider where our lives are heading. Either way this helps to understand the existing offers and energies that are in play.

Making predictions often gives rise to new desires. For instance, the Governor of New York has been requesting 30,000 more ventilators for his state to deal with the expected spike in coronavirus patients within the next few weeks. Where does that desire come from? It comes from predictions about what’s going to happen next. That desire is a response to reality’s current offer, an offer which is fathomed more fully by making predictions and projections and constructing mental models to explain them.

Reality’s offers can be complex, so we simplify them into mental models that we can more easily understand. This introduces inaccuracies, but if the model is accurate enough to be useful, we can still lean on it.

How often do you read through the legal contracts to which you agree, such as the terms of service when you update your software? Those are complex offers, so you chunk them down into simple mental models based on your previous experiences, your expected standards of fairness, and perhaps a twist of corporate evil.

Once you create a mental model of reality’s offer, you get to decide how to respond. Most likely just understanding the offer will give rise to some reactions, and if you process those reactions, you’ll arrive at some desires. It’s important to process your reactions though, which requires trusting reality if you want to do it intelligently. This doesn’t mean you have to like each offer, but it is help to acknowledge the offer as you see it.

Then you get to respond to reality’s offer based on whatever you perceive your options to be.

What’s reality’s offer with the virus situation? What does this offer mean to you personally?

Reality is undergoing a major shift in its storyline, so you get to decide how you’ll interact with this storyline. Initially you’ll have your reaction to it, which may be strong and emotional or which may not be much at all. You could get stuck in reactive mode, or you can process how you feel about it and then decide to acknowledge the offer for what it is. You can decide what it means to you and how you’re going to model it and frame it. And then you can decide how you’ll respond.

How do you move from reaction to response? The answer is trust. If you don’t trust reality, you’ll remain struck in reactive mode. You can remain stuck there for years or decades till you realize that it’s an endless trap and that there’s really no escape from it till you finally see the logic of trusting reality unconditionally. You won’t be able to really understand reality’s offer unless and until you trust it.

When you decide how you’ll respond, that’s when you’re getting into intention.

So with this framing, I wouldn’t say that prediction and intention are the same. However, if you get stuck at prediction and don’t work through the emotions of your reaction, then I’d also say that your intention is likely to be rather powerless, which makes it seem like you are indeed intending to passively experience what you’re predicting. Lack of trust keeps you stuck.

If you trust reality, you won’t fear my predictions or anyone else’s, at least not for long. But you can get stuck in fear to the extent that you don’t trust reality.

Can you override and overrule what reality’s doing if you don’t like it? No, reality is in charge of reality. You’re in charge of your response.

As challenging as it can be to process the feelings that come up with respect to the coronavirus situation, especially given the predictions of how it’s likely to continue unfolding, I do find the response options to be empowering and meaningful. Predictions that may seem morbid at first actually reveal a positive offer when I remind myself to trust reality.

I feel that what reality is offering here is rich and complex and actually very positive. Here are some pieces of how I currently understand reality’s offer:

  • Reality is highlighting the contrast between good leadership and un-leadership, which I perceive as an offer to more deeply consider what good leadership means to me.
  • Reality is making me appreciate the value of good leadership and the positive role that government can have when it works well.
  • Reality is offering to strengthen relationships with people I care about and to help me better understand which relationships are most precious to me and why.
  • Reality is inviting me to deepen my sense of compassion and caring, including how I feel on the inside and how I express this outwardly.
  • Reality is inviting me to put some aspects of my life on pause, so I can focus more attention on other aspects.
  • Reality is setting me up to really appreciate going out when it becomes safe to do so again. It will be so nice to go for a walk along the Vegas Strip when it’s bustling with tourists again. I’m going to have so much more appreciation for simple pleasures.
  • I was originally intending to have a more extroverted and social year, especially locally and in person, but reality is inviting me to go through a more introverted period of tuning into myself more, connecting with my wife and her feelings, and connecting with people online with more depth. I can see that this could be a positive phase to go through first, like a deeper in-breath before the out-breath.
  • Reality is inviting me to pay more attention to my health and to appreciate each day that I feel healthy and alive.
  • Reality is inviting me to trust it more deeply, to acknowledge how much I already trust it, and to appreciate the long-term rewards of trusting it.
  • Reality is inviting me to appreciate my home even more.
  • Reality is inviting me to appreciate my wife even more.
  • Reality is inviting me to appreciate healthy food even more.
  • Reality is inviting me to appreciate my wife’s cooking skills even more, and I already appreciated her cooking a lot.
  • Reality is inviting me to acknowledge the temporary nature of all human relationships, so I’ll appreciate them even more.
  • Reality is helping me to remember and appreciate so many beautiful experiences I’ve had, especially travel experiences.
  • Reality is inviting me to slow down and listen more.
  • Reality is reminding me that if death comes, I can choose to surrender to it, which includes allowing my body to respond as it will.
  • Reality is helping me to appreciate people with decent math skills.

Making predictions helps me understand what reality is offering at a deeper level. The surface story may appear to be threatening, but the real offer isn’t threatening at all. The real offer is actually very caring, loving, and empowering.

When I form an intention, much of the time my intention is to acknowledge and accept reality’s true offer. Sometimes I’ll make a counteroffer by adding my own intentionality and desire to what I think reality is offering. I can express my intention through my actions, and I can see how reality responds.

While I could frame this as a negotiation, I like to frame it as a dance. Dancing is a process of making and accepting offers. Dancing relies on prediction, although we often do this subconsciously. And dancing requires trust.

Intending to dance and to enjoy the experience isn’t the same as predicting what your partner will do next. Predicting your partner’s movements doesn’t mean that you’re intending those movements. But predicting your partner’s movements can help you to align with the flow of the dance, and it can help you add more richness and subtlety to your own intentions as the dance continues.

Just don’t stop at prediction. Remember to dance too. This virus is actually an incredible dance partner.