The Choices We Make
How often have you had trouble deciding what to do in your life? Perhaps you’ve pondered over whether to change jobs or move into a new apartment. Perhaps you have debated with yourself if you should ask someone for a date or accept one. Many times we become stuck and can’t seem to decide, even when one choice is clearly for our benefit. Other times we feel as if we have no choice at all and are a victim of circumstance.
Every choice or decision we make is what Roberto Assagioli calls “an act of will.” Even making no decision is a decision. Our will power is energy, the energy that drives our life forward. We can think of the will like the engine of a car (our life) and we are the ones driving the car. In order to move closer to joy, it’s vital that we understand this will power and learn how to effectively use it in our lives.
What is Your Will Like?
Consider your own will. Do you feel pushed around by others? Do you concede to what someone else wants to do, burying your own needs and desires? Are you paralyzed by inertia? Do you distract easily from the task at hand? Do your feelings overwhelm you and suddenly you find yourself acting in a way that you don’t want? Or do you genuinely do what you wish, from the depths of your being?
The best way to discover your will is to use it. Will is energy and it is meant to be activated and spent. For example, try doing something right now that you don’t want to do. (Like finish reading this blog! HaHa!) Or postpone something that you would prefer to begin right now. Or try doing something extremely slowly—like washing the dishes or getting dressed. All these small activities exercise your will and bring awareness to your relationship to the engine of your life.
Four Aspects of Will – Strong, Skillful, Good and Transpersonal
Assagioli wrote an entire book on the will and I will be sharing some of his ideas. He says that there are four aspects of the will—strong, skillful, good, and transpersonal (i.e. cosmic or God’s will), which we all have. Usually one aspect is more developed than the other and the idea is to make them equally balanced.
Six Stages to Decision Making
He also states that any act of will includes a number of stages or steps. For some choices we make (like which flavor ice cream to eat!) these steps can come naturally and quickly. For others, we can become stuck along the way.
The first step is stating our goal or purpose. I would like to eat something cold and sweet. The second is deliberation. I like chocolate but maybe the passion fruit and mango might be nice for a change. Then we decide. Chocolate! And affirm. Yes, I really want the chocolate ice cream today. Then we make a plan of action. I will catch the attendant’s eye and tell her that I would like a chocolate ice cream, then I will pay for it, eat it, and enjoy every minute! Finally, we actually execute the decision. Ymmm. Delicious!
The more we understand these stages and work with the aspects of our will (that is, the better we are at driving this car called Life), the easier and freer we are to move in the direction we long for. And when we choose to improve our lives, move on, surrender something negative, and think of new possibilities, we are moving towards joy.