The free will conundrum

It could be that although we have more potentials than a blade of grass, we have no more choice than a blade of grass in our own becoming.  For the most part, our lives unfold mechanistically.  Our hearts beat, oxygen circulates, our cells divide, our neurons fire and all sorts of processes happen without any conscious engagement.  It is also the case that what we think, feel and do is largely automated.  Our circumstances, personality and conditioning set the stage and we may be but performers in our specified roles.  So said Shakespeare:  “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” (As you Like It, 1590)

There are very many intelligent arguments that refute the notion of free will. Our understanding of the workings of the brain readily allows us to identify parts of the brain, the frontal lobes of the neocortex, which performs functions related to choice, impulse control, decision-making, and problem-solving without needing to claim some sort of superior ability that transcends the machine.    Furthermore, the arguments by those who try to establish the possibility of free will are not convincing.   If you strip away all the parts of wanting to believe in free will, then the evidence stacks up against the notion that we actually can make independent choices. The arguments against the notion of free will are unfortunately solid.

Creating you

Every single physical and psychological interaction you have had in your life has resulted in your becoming who you have become.  Consider Newton’s premise that for every action these is an equal and opposite reaction.  There is always a relationship between parts and in that relationship, the parts merge and emerge as different. Potentiation occurs when two objects merge.  Emergence is the synthesis or gestalt of the emerged property.

This understanding draws our attention to our conscious fields and where we place our attention.  What this means, for example, is that I am running resentments, then the focus of my attention is on the resentment and in that process I become more of a resentful person.  The amount of time I spend running the resentments and the intensity with which I run the resentful scripts will impact on the nature of me emerging as more resentful.

Consider the objects that usually absorb your attention,  This can be whatever you tend to attend to. Consciousness allows us the ability to be conscious of something and that ‘something,’ whatever it is, has a dynamic effect on our becoming.  It is worth taking time out to write about where you usually place your attention and consider whether or not that focus is helping you become who you want to become.  Conversely, consider how you might like to expand your conscious field be becoming aware of things that are outside your current remit.

Who you are now is not who you have to be.

When you were conceived, you came into being with the potential that that sperm and egg bestowed on you.  An extraordinary vault of possibilities that would, and will, define your emergence.   As long as you have life you will emerge according to which of your potentials you potentiate.  It is easy to consider that if you had gone to that school instead of this one, or had studied that instead of this, or had lived there instead of here, or had hooked up with that partner instead of this one, then your life would have been different.  It is more difficult to conceptualize that who you have become would also be different.  We experience ourselves is as if we exist as an invariable entity travelling through life.  It feels as if we have been travelling in the body rather than emerging with the body.  This is a trick of consciousness, who you are now is not who you would be had you developed different aspects of yourself.

Consider who you have become.  It’s not hard to remember why you have become who you have become.  All sorts of circumstances have defined who you have become.  You know what happened to you.   You can see what caused the good bits about you and what caused the bad bits about you.  The things is that so much of who you have become has been caused by what happened to you rather than determined by you in relation to who you want to become.  Share your thoughts about who you have become and then write about who you would like to become and consider how you can make that happen.

Anxiety is the gatekeeper of our lives

“…whoever is educated [by possibility] remains with anxiety”  Kierkegaard 1849.

Aim Anxiety Eros
Love someone Fear of rejection Joy of being connected
Accept a challenge Fear of failure Extend yourself
Admit failure Fear of ridicule Move on
Be present Rise in anxiety Alive
Forgive Fear of being hurt again Move on
Accept difference Fear of losing identity Become inclusive
Be vulnerable Fear of losing control Connect with being alive
Trust Fear of being hurt Increase networks

Anxiety is the gate keeper of our lives.  We have to go through it to live a life that is not ruled by it.  In order to be willing to go through that gate, however, we need to be confident that we can manage our anxiety.

Consider how the fear of rejection impacts your life giving examples of times when the fear of rejection make you anxious, giving examples of how you manage that anxiety,

The freedom to create me

Man is nothing else but what he purposes, he exists only in so far as he realizes himself, he is therefore nothing else but the sum of his actions, nothing else but what his life Jean-Paul Sartre, 1965.

It is clear that there is no such thing as an independent, invariable self.  We are human becomings.  Our experience of ourself is that of a human being but a fairly basic analysis readily demonstrates that we are not the same as we were yesterday, nor will be the same tomorrow.  If we have free will, then we can shape this becoming by selecting our responses to the triggers in our environment and in doing so we can become the architects of our own evolution.

I eat a chip in response to a craving.  I become the hot chip.  I feel angry in response to an insult.  I become an angry person.  I laugh and I become the laughter.  I am the product of every hot chip, every angry response, every laugh.  Ever single thought, feeling and action has merged together to have me emerge as I am right now.  I will merge and emerge every moment of my life and even after death my body will continue to be part of the cycle of life.

If we have free will then I can select how I respond to the triggers of my life and in doing so I can take charge of my own emergence.

Manage your Mind

Want to know more?   Read the book.

Without mind management our minds have a mind of their own, they do what they do in automatum and where they go we follow. So much of what we think, feel and do is determined by our minds of their own accord which means that we can readily become less than who we are and not who we want to be. To make matters worse, left to their own devices, our minds are responsible for a huge part of our suffering. So much of what goes on in our minds is related to unrealistic expectations, stress, negative judgements, pressure to perform and irrational hopes and dreams. We have the ability to see ourselves in perspective and we can override our automated responses, but this will not happen with deliberation. Read this pioneering work written by clinical psychologist, Anne Sacco to understand how your brain works and how you can train your brain to do what you want it to do.

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