The question of having a choice is an interesting one about personal power, it is one we choose to believe. If you truly had a choice in your life and actions, would you do the many things you do that are detrimental to your self or others? How many times a month, a week, a day, do you say to yourself, ‘Why did I do that? I know better, I knew I shouldn’t have done that.’ You did it because you do not have the ability to choose. Personal growth is gaining the ability to choose freely.
Freedom of choice is an ability to choose what we say and do at each moment, using our own will and mind to decide what we will do. If you do anything automatically or subconsciously or against your better judgment, then at that moment you did not have the ability to choose what to do.
We do not have the freedom of choice because we do not normally possess the qualities that are necessary and required for possessing and exercising the ability to choose at each moment. Choice is in our capacity and potential, but first we must develop the strength to use it. Until then it lies latent and unused. In the event of an attack, perhaps you may have a big enough gun to defend yourself, but if you do not have the physical strength to lift and aim the gun, then fire it, it is of no use to you and although it is there, is as if it did not exist and you did not possess it. The gun is freedom of choice, the strength to lift and use it is will power, or a strong enough mind, and the enemy is the ego which twists your mind to self indulgence and a false, subjective view of the world.
Choice is something we have that sits quietly in our mind, yet we did not learn the skills and strengths to use it properly, if at all. We are creatures at the mercy of the winds of change, circumstances, and the events of the moment. Our ignorance to the truth is what makes us believe the lie that we are in control of our lives and that we do have the freedom to choose what we do and how we react to the world. That ignorance and false belief that we possess a skill that we do not is what prevents us from developing the ability to use it.
All one has to do is observe oneself during the course of one day, totally and fully observe all ones actions to determine how much choice one applies to ones life and how much of the day is spent reacting and doing things that one would rather not do. Looking objectively, if you left the office in a good mood, drove through a rain storm in heavy traffic, then got home in a bad mood, did you choose your mood. Could you choose not to be angry or effected in any way? Perhaps you could lessen the negative state, but could you instantly choose a happy mood and be that way? Theoretically yes, but next time you catch yourself in a negative state, check how long it takes to put yourself in a good mood and if you do, how long does that last, how quickly do you return to a negative state? And that is not to mention how long it took you to notice you where in a bad mood to begin with. By the time you noticed, how long where you negative?
This ignorance and false belief prevents us from attaining the qualities of free choice because it makes us think we already have it. Why work to attain something that is already possessed, especially when that work is very difficult and time consuming. Herein lies the cause of all human suffering, to whatever degree. Whether it is a desire for something unfulfilled, or the difficulties of dealing with life, or problems in relationships, work or personal, etc. The ignorance of the truth that we do not possess that most esteemed quality which makes humans superior to all other creatures, freedom of choice. We simply react instead of consciously act.
This is not a discussion on being trapped in a world where you must work all day to earn a living and have no choice of that, but the point is to develop the ability to choose your mood, words, thoughts, and actions. Freedom is the goal. Freedom from what? Freedom from the tyranny of your own mind that twists you into states and actions that you regret. Guilt is not a real thing that comes from outside, it is born from your own actions of doing what you believe you should not do. Self-will brings an end to guilt by ending unconscious and uncontrollable actions that are against our better judgment.
If we would accept our lack of the ability to choose, and that we are subject to the events of the moment, then we could begin to develop the skills and power to use free choice. Only by acknowledging and accepting ones present reality that one is not in control of ones own life and actions, can one begin to make a change to that situation and state of being. That acceptance cannot be simply intellectual, it must be proven. Nothing that is of value will be of true value to anyone unless that person has proven it to themselves without any doubt or question. Do the exercise of observing and noting down, in writing, every event that is done against ones will and preferred choice. Do this until it becomes so blatantly obvious that there is very little free choice in ones life, and that we actually do not choose anything at all, but merely react.
Once that is deeply proven and accepted far beyond merely the surface intellectual consciousness, then the work of attaining free choice becomes possible. The quality needed to exercise free choice is will power. Will power is developed by deliberately and consciously doing what strengthens the mind and body, especially if one does not want to do it. There is a saying, Will power is doing what you do not want to do and not doing what you want to do.
This is the practice that must be applied as often as possible. Of course that is not to say that one must perpetually deny ones pleasures, but that one must apply this principle and practice whenever possible or practical.
As an example, if one is in a conversation and the topic goes to gossiping about someone, then it would be a good practice to hold ones tongue and not participate or add any comments to the conversation despite how tempting that may be. Or in the case of physical exercise, to go that extra two minutes beyond the feeling that one cannot go any further. It is relatively easy to find ways to practice will power.
As the will is strengthened, then observing all events, which is basically every moment in ones waking life, that one must make a choice, choose what is best for all concerned, which may mean that one must make a choice and action which leaves one last or second because in the long run that is what is objectively the correct thing to do.
To find the objective truth of the world and attain control over our own lives, we must first know that we do not have control and then develop the qualities and strengths to exercise that will. Believing that one has something one does not have is simply a waste of life dreaming and not achieving.
The Old Testament tells us, “God created all beings equal, except Man. To Man, He gave freedom of choice.” It may be the most difficult thing that one can do, to accept that what one has believed and been told since birth is not true, the false idea that one is in control of ones own choices and actions, when we are not at all. If you want control over your life, freedom, happiness and contentment, true love to be found in your heart free of negative thoughts and emotions, however difficult it may be to accept and change, you have to find what you are and what you are not.