After 25 years practicing psychiatry, almost as many testifying in criminal trials and about a year now working as a spiritual counselor and life coach, I feel I have a lot of data about how free will really works. Here’s the headline: True free willisn’t nearly as common as most people think. If you want to be one of those who really has it, you’ll probably need to do some work.
Defining True Free Will
Free will is not just freedom to decide. Free will really only operates when a person is making decisions based on his or her true character, real underlying desires and a focused view of the choices and challenges at hand. In order for that to be the case, lots of patterns of emotion and behavior that operate as reflexes rooted in the past have to be neutralized.
Here are two examples:
- Let’s say you always felt slighted, compared to your two siblings. You felt that your parents asked more of you or celebrated you less. It’s then entirely possible that you will have an exaggerated response to an employer or partner or friend who seems to be leaning on you or to be favoring someone other than you. You’ll be the one “choosing” to walk out on the job or go to war with your partner or sever your friendship, but it won’t be a choice made with true free will, because it will have been fueled by old interpersonal dynamics that never got cleared out of your mind, heart and soul.
- Or, let’s say you were always told as a child that pursuing your artistic dream was a fantasy which, if taken seriously, would lead you into poverty. You have “chosen” to keep working in the software industry, based on leftover fears, instilled in you way back in childhood. That isn’t true free will, either.
Again, true free will is the freedom to decide based on who you trulyare, what you trulywant and how you would trulyreact, without the undue intrusion of past chapters of your life story.
Developing True Free Will
The only way to develop true free will is to identify those old emotional reflexes for what they are—leftovers from past dramas that don’t serve the present moment, at all. Once they are identified they can be cleared out and then no longer contaminate today’s decision-making.
How can you do this? How can you rid yourself of the old patterns still in control of the choices you make, old patterns that obliterate true free will? There’s one gold standard way: Counseling, psychotherapy or life coaching that challenges you to shed past habits of thought and behavior, in favor of purer ones that tap into true intention. Today’strue intention.
Why Does True Free Will Lead to Real Success?
Exercisingtrue free willis, in fact, the only way to achieve genuine success. Why? Because true free will is a reflection of one’s true self, which is a gift from God or the Universe, however one may see it. True free willautomatically taps into your true passionand true personal power. You automatically choose to pursue your real dreams and stand for your true ideals and take the right risks, because they come from your core, not from your rote reactions to old intrusions upon you as a child or adolescent or young adult.
Some of these themes are central ones in my book, Living the Truth.
The Ablow Center and True Free Will
In a way, the chief mission of The Ablow Center is to restore true free willto clients, to leave them unencumbered by the agendas of others, exercising their real intentions, pursuing their real dreams, saying what they really mean and entering into relationships they really want. Maybe that’s why clients of The Ablow Center have, in just the last 30 days, released a new album, published a new book, launched a new Internet startup, opened a new restaurant and recruited an investor to take their business to a whole new level. It’s a lot less likely that clients will be depressed or anxious or sleepless or distracted or overweight or using substances, by the way, when wielding their true free will.
Keith Ablow, MD
Founder, The Ablow Center