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Excerpts from
"Changing Your Stripes"

Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor

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On the surface some behaviors may appear wrong but from the heart, they are right; in contrast
other behaviors on the surface may appear right but from the heart, they are wrong.
For this reason, Jesus implores: "Judge not according to the appearance."
An Old Testament verse describes perfect discernment this way:
"for man looketh on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looketh on the heart."

*    *    *    *    *    *

Motive Defines Meaning:
Intent Defines the Act

 by Matt Moody, Ph.D. 

A closer look at the distinction between activities of doing, and the tone and intention of a way of being is illustrated in the following scenarios:

        The Doing (Action)             A Way of Being (Tone & Intention)

           Attending Church-1               Glad to be in a place of peace
           Attending Church-2               Bothered by the hypocrisy of others in attendance

           Cooking a meal-1               Happy to have enough food for the family
           Cooking a meal-2               Annoyed that no one is offering to help out

           Bowling-1                       Celebrating the success of all participants
           Bowling-2                       Irritated that fellow competitors are scoring higher

           Vacuuming-1              Thankful to have a home and a carpet to clean
           Vacuuming-2              Feeling unappreciated for hours and hours of hard work

Even though the outward choreographies are essentially the same, when the motive and emotion are different, then the "act-as-a-whole" becomes different. Evaluating an activity without considering intent and emotion can lead to a profound misunderstanding of the act-as-a-whole.

For example, visualize the outward activity of: forcefully pushing another person. Without taking into account context and intention, most would conclude such an act to be aggressive and uncivil. Giving someone a hard shove would be very politically incorrect, but that same "shove" — when applied within a specific context and colored by a particular intent — can completely change the act-as-a-whole.

How would "forcefully pushing another person" be defined if that forceful push moved someone "out of" the path of an oncoming car? This particular "push" would be deemed an act of heroism. In contrast, pushing someone "into" the path of a car would be defined as an act of attempted murder. The raw outward choreography of shoving someone changes . . . as context and intention change.

Some institutions within our culture reinforce an orientation of emphasizing outward evidence to the exclusion of understanding inward motives. Because of the elephantine influence of the legal system in our culture, it is becoming more common for people to focus upon outward superficial Facts, to define an Act.

* * * * *
When Motives are not factored into the Definition of particular Doings,
such interpretations become . . . Acts of Dishonesty
by those who observe and interpret.
 * * * * * 

Such blatant dishonesty regularly occurs in courts of law, where whatever story can be concocted to explain away obvious guilt . . . is the story that is told. The legal system calls it a "defense strategy," but common folk call it . . . "lying." Disregard for the meaning of the "act-as-a-whole" also happens when politicians endeavor to further political agendas; when an outward act can possibly be interpreted to the advantage of political "spin," then the true intent that undergirds that outward act is routinely ignored.

* * * * *
Political and legal "lying" is business as usual: Taking words and deeds
out of context and judging acts upon their superficial appearance is what the
Politically Correct Police do daily. And as factual fragments are taken out of context,
such dishonesty hides conveniently behind the legitimized label of . . . "strategy."
 * * * * * 

Twisting the facts to one’s favor is so common in our culture that the masses have largely become desensitized to it. As propaganda is peddled to a gullible public, or a fleece-able jury, some accept that intentionally distorting presentations is a clever strategy to be applauded. When words and deeds are taken out of context, intention is obscured and the very heart of an act’s meaning is negated. Understanding the entire context of an act is critical, because awareness of context reveals intent.

For the purposes of Changing Your Stripes, the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is told by Intentions and Emotional Tone within the larger Context of particular situations. Such is the big picture for understanding the meaning of all human doings. When we focus on superficial facts only, the facts can fool us—for things are not always as they seem on the surface. Intention must be discerned! As interpreted within each living context, Intent defines the Act-as-a-Whole.

Discerning between Fact & Truth. Facts and truth are commonly equated, but there is an important and practical difference: Consider the way facts are used in courts of law to bring about injustice; on this basis alone, Truth needs to be more than a synonym for fact. "Truth" needs its own identity apart from "fact." Sometimes the word “fact” is used to mean “reality”—the way things ARE, the way the world IS. But then what word should represent the legal evidence that is used to mislead? In legal arenas, fact is often far from a truthful representation of reality. Since we already have the word Reality to represent “the way things are,” let’s use the word Fact to represent “technically correct words”—both spoken and written.

* * * * *
Facts are technically accurate statements
made by the mouth or penned by the hand.
Truth is a larger statement, a holistic statement.
Truth is not just factually accurate, but also utterly honest.
Truth is the whole statement of one’s total being:
a unified expression of word, deed, motive,
and emotion—all of which are True.
 * * * * * 

Discerning the Act-As-A-Whole, means that you factor Inward Intent along with Outward Behavior. This points to the importance of Feelings that accompany every outward act.

Feelings that are False. When you DO that which is TRUE, your truthful way of being will be accompanied by feelings of Love and Light. In contrast, even when you may be "right" and you may have the "facts" in your favor, if certain emotions brew beneath the veneer of being "right" and having "facts," you can know with certainty that YOU are being wrong—YOU are not being true to the own sense of Truth.

* * * * *
You can lie with your MOUTH or EMOTION:
"When you're in the BRIAR, . . . You're a LIAR."
 * * * * * 

While the lies from our lips are more obvious, lies can also be "told" without words. Resentful and accusing emotions are nonverbal lies that we live; wordless emotional lies that are more subtle and insidious. As we harbor irritated and tense emotions, we are entangled in the thorns of the BRIAR.

                                    The BRIAR represents Lies that we "tell" via Emotion.
                                    The BRIAR represents Lies that we Live!

                                   B = Bothered Blaming & Bitter
                                   R = Resentful & Raging
I  = Irritated Impatient & Irate
                                   A = Angry Agitated Annoyed Anxious & Accusing
                                   R = Rationalizing

These unsettled emotions openly show in our very countenance; they reveal our betrayal of Truth. Because these feelings are false, . . . we are Being False as we harbor them. BRIAR Emotions are yet another set of tell-tale signs that signal the loss of Life's inherent harmony.

* * * * *
When I am False . . . I feel
Tension, Agitation . . . Disharmony.
My Unsettled Emotions signal falseness.
When I am True, I am at Peace;
the Peace that flows freely
signifies Harmony.
 * * * * * 

In Contrast to Pure White. Visualize a canvas of pure white, the kind of canvas that an artist uses to paint a portrait. Think of your life as a collection of colors being painted upon this clean, clear canvas. With every word you think and every deed you do, the portrait of your life is painted, and in contrast to pure white, any tint or shade less than white is obvious and conspicuous. Against an immaculate backdrop, you are able to see . . . with perfect clarity, how some motives and emotions fall short of pure white.

In your mind's eye, imagine that all loving words and deeds possess the unsullied shine of bright white. The purity of love would have no hint of darkness, not even the slightest shade of gray. Every word, deed, thought, or emotion that is "less-than" pure white, is a shade of betrayal:

                                               Pure Love                                                         Less-than-Love
Emotions of Bright White                                  Black & Gray Emotions

                                  calm           approachable                                  impetuous               edgy
                                  lovely           enthusiastic                                  suspicious            angry
                                  amiable           nurturing                                  defensive            cranky
                                  engaging             friendly                                  arrogant             forlorn
                                  fascinating              happy                                  jealous              resentful
                                  welcoming                sweet                                  galled                annoying
                                  cherishing                giving                                  mean               impatient
                                  animated            genuine                                  bitter              malicious
                                  gracious           generous                                  bored               apathetic
                                  cheery             passionate                                  listless                worried
                                  lively           comfortable                                  irritated              fearful
                                  real           warmhearted                                  conceited                tense

Shades of Betrayal: Less-than-Love. When we are being less-than-loving, the portrait we paint upon the white canvas is clouded by confusion; instead of vivid hues of red, blue, and green, a quarreling collision of colors makes the muddied shades of black and gray. Thus the portrait of our Life loses clarity . . . and beauty. Against the backdrop of bright white, even the subtlest shades of gray are easily exposed.

* * * * *
The Light of Innocence shines in the Heart of all Humanity;
It carries the Clarity and Purity of Bright White.
When I betray the Light of Innocence,
tense and agitated shades of black and gray
stand in stark contrast: Emotions Less-than-Love,
these Emotions signal my departure from Pure Light.
 * * * * * 

Look back on your life: Remember a time when you were crystal clear that something was wrong to do, . . . but you did it anyway. With your very first act that betrayed the Light of Innocence within, you were completely clear that a lesser way was being chosen. With each subsequent betrayal, this crystal sense of honesty became increasingly clouded; you became accustomed to the muddied shades of a dreary portrait. You became desensitized to the darkness, . . . deadened by the darkness.

* * * * *
Pure White . . . portrays Pure Love.
Anything less than Pure White is Less-than-Love.
All acts that are Less-than-Loving are acts of Betrayal.
 * * * * * 

The Light of Innocence will naturally lead you back to the complete purity you possessed as a child. Followed consistently over time, the Light of Innocence will lead you to recover and renew . . . the You that is True. Returning to pure white is how you began and is who you are from your core. When you recover and renew, euphoric feelings of Love fill you, and flow from you. As you choose Love, you also choose the peace that comes with Love. To follow these impressions of Inner Innocence . . . is to experience rebirth.

* * * * *
The Light always leads to Love.
Pure Love is an absence of Anxious Emotions.
Acts of Love I feel to do . . . bring Healing and Contentment.
As I choose Acts that are Less-than-Love,
I choose chaos and contention.
They come together
just as certain seeds
bring forth specific fruits:
confusion, clamor, and complexity
comes with every act that is Less-than Love.
The Motives and Emotions of My Heart, define the Acts I do.
 * * * * * 

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the Fallibility of Following Feelings,
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Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor

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