Do We Have the Free Will to Make Choices?
One of the advantages of being a human being is having the free will to make our own choices. We can choose to be courageous or frightened. We can choose to love or to live in fear. We can choose freedom over certainty. Oh, the things we can choose to do with our lives!
But, we don't. And, why not? Because we've been told that to choose means consequences. And, if we don't choose wisely...well, what can I say?
What about that saying about learning from our mistakes? About picking ourselves up, over and over again, simply because we believe in trying one more time? Those are all choices we can make.
To be or not to be.
When We Give Our Power Away
So often I hear my clients lamenting about where they are in life.
“I have to go to the gym or else my husband will be angry with me for wasting our gym contract”.
“I have to stay in my job even though I feel so trapped”.
“I have to meet my friend for coffee even though she criticizes everything I do”.
Do you think the person saying these things is empowering herself? Or, is she giving her power away? What choices is she making on a daily basis by saying to herself and to others “I have to….”?
Another way we give away our free will to make choices is by saying:
"I should be looking after my mother".
"I should be going to the gym every day".
"I should be getting up early every morning so I can make my hubby his lunch".
Really? All I hear is guilt and what is guilt driven by? Fear. I should be doing that or I should be doing this. Since when "should" you be doing anything?
Now, if you said, "I would..." or "I could..." then you're speaking from a place of choosing what you want to do because, well, you want to do it. You're using your free will to make a choice.
Why Do We Give Away Our Own Power?
Despite having free will, we choose to make “choices” that reflect our lack of personal responsibility. Why? We choose not to be discerning about choices given to us. We allow our limiting beliefs to hold us back when opportunities present themselves.
This stops us from making choices that give us growth and freedom. We have lost touch with our inner SELF. By turning inwards and asking the valid questions, our own intuition will give us the answers we need to know, and yet, how many times, have we made a choice that we knew, deep down, was not the right choice?
Only later, down the line, as we look back on the day we made a certain choice and we find ourselves in a situation that doesn't serve us, do we remember our stomach was sending out alert signals that we chose to ignore.
How to Get Back Our Power
Every day of our lives we're presented with choices – what food can I eat, what movie shall I watch, who can I meet for coffee today, shall I go to yoga tonight or stay in bed…… the options go on and on.
We can choose to do things we know will serve us in a positive light. Or we can choose to do things that seem good at the time but aren't good for us in the long run (think of the time you chose to drink one too many glasses of wine, knowing full well that you were going to pay for it with one massive hangover the next day!!!).
Listen to your language when you talk about doing something you don’t enjoy doing – “I have to go to work or else I will lose my job”. Immediately you are setting yourself up to have a bad day at work, every day, every time you feel you HAVE to go to work.
You do have choices – leave your job and find something that feeds your soul OR choose the correct language to make your workday a better experience – “I choose to go to work so that I have the freedom to pay for my own monthly expenses”. Even better – “I choose to give my best no matter where I work”.
By acknowledging that you do have a choice and by using positive language, you're empowering yourself to create a better life. Yes, even when circumstances may seem challenging at the time. Choose to make your difficult times a positive, learning experience. Choose to also always find the best of any situation.
Watch Wayne Dyer in "The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way" if you need some tips on how to use your free will to make choices.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Choice
Making choices can be frightening too. Never rush into making a decision. Give yourself space to respond to the choices been given to you. Ask yourself the following questions:
· How will the choice I make now impact me in the future?
· Which choice will give me the most joy and fulfillment?
· Does my choice resonate with my own values system?
· Am I being discerning about the choices presented to me?
· Am I listening to my inner voice?
Use these questions to guide you whenever you make a choice. Remember: you have the free will to do whatever you want to BUT you also have the opportunity to make the right choice for yourself at any given time.
Tapping Into the Power of Your Subconscious
I love John Kehoe’s mantra “My subconscious is my partner in success”. If we can tap into the power that is our subconscious, we can use it to help us make wise and empowering choices.
The more we tap into our subconscious, our inner voice, the easier it becomes to hear it loud and clear. The more we trust ourselves and have faith in our own intuition, the easier it becomes to make choices that serve us.
This is particularly useful when we are faced with choices that need to be made quickly and when we don’t have the luxury of stepping out of a situation to think about it more deeply.
When I need to make choices, I do try to listen to my inner voice. I have learned to understand the messages my inner voice sends me through my physical body; when my stomach turns to jelly and I feel my whole body literally shudder, then I know I am about to make a bad choice.
Often, I “feel” a knowing somewhere at the back of my head that indicates if I am about to make a wrong choice.
PS: Make sure you read John Kehoe's book, "Mind Power into the 21st Century". It's one of the very first books I read when I started exploring the power of my own mind. To this day, I still refer to it whenever I need a reminder of how great our minds are.
I have learned to be more patient when presented with choices – I have learned from past events that making rapid decisions have, most times, got me into trouble! The more I know myself and the more I trust myself, I am also able to make choices that I know will bring me joy and fulfillment.
But, for me, my biggest compass to making the right choices for me is knowing my own personal values system. I use my values system to guide me and if any of my values are going to be violated by a choice I might make, I choose to run!
Exercise your free will to make the right choices for you. What’s more empowering than being able to say, “I choose to …..”?
There's an ongoing debate about whether we actually have free will or not. I've only taken the word "free will" in the context that we can choose where we want to be at any given time. That we can choose what we want to believe in and how we want to feel.
Watch this interesting take on free will vs determinism by Jordan Peterson - it's always good to hear someone else's perspective. After all, that's how we learn and grow, isn't it?