Topic Tuesday: Actions

“Intention vs Action” (By: Maria Grasso)

This post has nothing maria grasso picto do with how I recovered from anorexia, my journey through anorexia, or my favorite childhood band (Hanson, in case you were dying to know).  None of that.  It’s about something I’ve found to be far more important—the one thing I wish I really understood on my journey.

I learned this concept from a mentor of mine who shared a Gandhi quote during his keynote address back in January:

“One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department.  Life is one indivisible whole.”

I immediately recognized the role I played in every struggle I’d been through: I was too busy poking holes to be whole. 

To clarify, let’s ask 21-year old me a few questions, real quick:

Question: Do I want to be “about” good things? (i.e. Do I want to be associated with positive things in life?)

Answer: Um, yes, definitely yes. In fact, that’s all I want.

Question: What will I do to obtain that association?

Answer: Whatever is necessary to maintain the perception.

Oh, did you catch that? I think I said, “maintain the perception”.  Yikes. My intentions were to be “all about good things”: strong academics, solid faith, empowerment of others, lively social life, civic engagement, and the list goes on and on.  My actions were to do whatever it took to maintain that image.  Looking back now, I sound pretty messed up, but hear me out.  I was so engulfed with getting the right end result that I sometimes did the wrong thing to get there.  My intentions were solid; my actions were hole-y (not the good kind).

I was anything but indivisible.  I always intended to empower others, especially women, to feel like they were worthy. Meanwhile, I was nearly starving myself to death.  My inconsistent actions poked so many holes in me that I eventually became a pool of disconnected pieces.

See, what I didn’t know in my ED or even recovery is that taking negative actions to maintain a positive perception makes the entire process a complete waste.  The key to being associated with good is much simpler: Do good.

Who we are is in the results, not the intentions. The take-home is this: actions speak louder than intentions. Yeah, it’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true…in recovery our intentions mean very little when our actions don’t align.

That’s the thing about me, and a lot of people I know who fell into ED’s trap—we had really good intentions.  At our core, we were really compassionate and strong people.  We wanted to make the grade, we wanted to help our neighbors, and we wanted to save the world…we did NOT want to let anyone down.

Somewhere along the way, though, we got confused.  Our intentions stopped being reflected in our actions, and our whole being started to break down.  We slowly began to confuse others, and eventually we confused ourselves, too.  Over time, the indivisible whole became an invisible whole. 

Today, it’s so easy for me to see how every action I take is a reflection of who I am.   What I intend to reflect, I take action on, and then become associated with it.  I have pieced my whole back together to reflect a strong foundation that is indivisible.

What actions in your life are breaking you apart? What needs to change to put the pieces of you back together to take you from the invisible whole to the true, indivisible YOU?

About the Author

Maria Grasso has a passion for people and commitment to education.  In her youth, she served as a Youth Ambassador for a United Nations Association development program in both South Africa and Namibia where she assisted in school development and built water sanitation facilities and homes for rural families. After graduation, Maria moved to Houston, Texas to work in urban education and nonprofit administration at an innovative Houston high school for economically disadvantaged students, while completing her Master’s of Business Administration. Currently, she serves as Executive Director of a youth success program that exposes high school and college students to the proven systems and techniques, that when properly practiced, give students a 7-year head start on their career and life. Maria is an advocate for using your body for strength—and loves motivating friends and family to reach their goals and laugh along the way!