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 You Give Your 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 you give away your 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 You Give Away Your Own Power?
Despite having free will, you choose to make “choices” that reflect your lack of personal responsibility. Why? You choose not to be discerning about choices given to you. You allow your limiting beliefs to hold you back when opportunities present themselves.
This stops you from making choices that give you growth and freedom. You have lost touch with your inner SELF. By turning inwards and asking valid questions, your own intuition will give you the answers you need to know. And yet, how many times, have you made a choice that you knew, deep down, was not the right choice?
Only later, down the line, as you look back on the day you made a certain choice and you find yourself in a situation that doesn't serve you, do you remember your stomach was sending out alert signals that you chose to ignore.
How to Get Back Your Power
Every day of your life you'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.
You can choose to do things you know will serve you in a positive light. Or you can choose to do things that seem good at the time but aren't good for you 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 verbal 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.
Read Wayne Dyer's "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 need to make a choice. They'll also help you tap into the power of your mind. 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 you can tap into the power that is your subconscious, you can use it to help you make wise and empowering choices.
The more you tap into your subconscious, your inner voice, the easier it becomes to hear it loud and clear. The more you trust yourself and have faith in your own intuition, the easier it becomes to make choices that serve you.
This is particularly useful when you're faced with choices that need to be made quickly and when you 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?
This post was originally published on February 8th, 2021, and updated on March 23rd, 2022.
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