We all want to make decisions with a clear mind and take responsibility for them. Being able to do so is a hallmark of self-determination and also evidence of integrity. For many people, however, their free will is impinged upon because of nearly automatic patterns of emotion, thought and behavior that may have been set in motion much earlier in life.
Achieving true free will requires identifying these patterns that effectively put your mind on autopilot and actually water down your free will.
Here’s a simple example: A woman with a father who is very controlling may unconsciously “decide” to never place herself in the position of being overly controlled, again. All good, so far, right? But since she was exposed to so much control when very young, her solution is too simplistic: She unconsciously chooses only men with very low self-esteem who look to her for guidance and support and cannot be full partners in the relationship. Those men disappoint her, eventually, because they can’t offer support. And they also resent her because they intuit that she chose them for their weaknesses, not their potential strengths. The dynamic has resulted in two divorces and several painful one- to two-year relationships.
Was the woman acting with “free will” when she chose her partners. I would say, no. Certainly, she was not acting with optimal free will. She “chose” them, yes. But she did so based on her extreme need, mostly unconscious, to avoid being overly controlled, as she had been as a child. Her unconscious solution of finding weak men to partner with overshot the mark—automatically—by a lot.
Here’s another example. A man who, when he was 13, watched his father descend into a deep depression after losing a business might unconsciously decide to never take the risk of starting his own venture—even if he has a wonderful, creative, promising idea that would likely meet with success. Is that free will? I don’t think so. The man isn’t “free,” because he is enslaved by past events that are triggering automatic self-defeating patterns of emotion, thought and behavior.
In order to achieve true and optimal free will we must rid ourselves of the automatic patterns that too often unconsciously govern our decisions. We must reclaim our God-given free will by doing the work of identifying the events in our lives that established these patterns and set them in motion. In so doing we are revisiting the pain in our lives (disappointing or even disastrous relationships) and reclaiming the power of free will in our lives. Tremendous reservoirs of energy and momentum and self-esteem and success are unleashed in the process.
This is part of the work and the promise of Pain-2-Power, by the way, and one of the reasons it changes lives in such substantial ways. Pain-2-Power removes resistors in the circuitry of your soul and restores true free will.
Dr. Keith Ablow