If you are a functioning human being you cannot help but have come across the idea that we all have free will and as a result we are all personally responsible for the outcome of our free will.
Yet just how free is our will?
Generally speaking we are free to choose or so we are told. If this is the case then our free will is limited to what we know. We cannot choose an option we are ignorant of.
That there were other options open to me other than those options I had been taught was a shock to me. At first I could not believe that there was a different way to think than the way I had been taught. I found that seeing what I had been taught as merely other people’s ideas was so revolutionary for me it took me quite a while to accept it as true. Once I did accept it, I began to change and free myself from my past.
I grew and changed just by coming to understand that there were more options available for me to choose from than I had been led to believe.On those days when the memory of my own behaviour in the past causes me shame in the present, I remind myself that I did not know different. The shame mainly revolves around having people in my life that were damaging to me and my not understanding the concept of boundaries. This is one of the most damaging aspects of physical and sexual abuse: having no boundaries. By this I mean that as other people violated my boundaries from such a young age and so frequently, I was not aware of boundaries either for myself or others.
We will never know all of the choices available to us. If we make what is ultimately a wrong choice how can we be accountable for that as it could well be that all of the choices we were aware of to choose from were wrong?
It is common to refer to addiction as a disease.I do not know if it is a disease or not.I do know that addiction is not a choice. Imagine wanting with all your might to not do something and still know that you will. I have often heard people who smoke condemn junkies as they take yet another drag on a fag. Likewise, fat people bemoaning the people who cannot control their drinking, as they stuff yet another piece of food into their mouth.
If you are addicted to something, stopping on your own without radical change in yourself, is like vowing to never again urinate! Often people who are addicted, appeared to recover to the unknowledgeable, whereas all they have done is switched to a more acceptable addiction. Usually one that is not especially visible! I have seen alcoholics stop drinking, sitting at meetings saying how wonderful sobriety is, as they grow to 300lbs.
From my own personal experience with OCD behaviour and anorexia/bulimia I know just how powerless one is to prevent the behaviours that cause so much damage. I also know how much support and love and understanding is needed in order for one to express what is inside. I also know that generally speaking this is not available. Again speaking from personal experience, the psychiatric profession seems to think that the expression of pain is an illness worthy of heavy medication. Dare to express fear anger and rage sadness or grief and you are likely to be locked up and drugged. Effectively everybody around you wants you to stop doing that which is making them feel so uncomfortable, i.e. addictive behaviour, yet they block the means of recovery.
Fortunately for me, I was able to experience for several months of 95, 99 and finally for six months toward the end of 2007, the letting go of what was inside me without anybody trying to stop me. Without exaggeration, I cried daily for hours for months. The final cleansing, in 2007, took five months and was by far the worst. My GP and John allowed this to happen because they knew that it must. Previously I had been locked up and drugged up whenever these feelings showed themselves.
As a result, my own addictive behaviour rarely impinges on my life. I no longer take hours to be able to leave my home because I have to keep checking that everything is locked and turned off. This used to be so draining that I just preferred not to leave home. I cannot say that I no longer starve myself or eat too much. Both are coping tools that I learned and are ingrained in me. Having said that it is rare that either become a problem now. In stressful times both good and bad I have to be careful and be aware. I also rarely now have nightmares or night terrors. I was just speaking to John about this at the weekend because in the film we were watching somebody kept being woken by somebody else’s night terrors. This was my poor John. It got so bad he spent nine months sleeping on the couch. Not so much so that he could sleep but to save himself from being attacked.
Anyway back to my original thoughts! I do not believe that any of us are as free in our will as we like to think that we are. As the quality of our lives pretty much depends upon the choices that we make it behoves us all to learn as much as we can. Before all other knowledge it is of the utmost importance that we learn about ourselves. Even the best educated of us can make the wrong choices because we are ignorant of the most important thing: our self. Much of what we believe and therefore much of how we behave, is not based upon our knowledge, but upon how we feel. As a minor example but I think the clear one consider the following: there was a man at the dog shows whom I did not like. He was given an appointment to judge our breed and I refused to enter under him up until the last minute. As I have learned to do, I did eventually ask myself what it was about this person that I so intensely disliked as I could not blame it upon the way he treated me as I have had very little interaction with him. Even then I could not come up with an answer and my feeling remained. One day he happened to be walking toward me at a dog show. Instead of actually seeing him I saw somebody from my past who had caused me a great deal of pain, who had almost killed me. My antipathy toward this man immediately melted away because I understood that it was not him at all that was the problem but myself and my unconscious memories. We all experience such things but generally we do not question ourselves.
If we look at the world that we live in we can see staring us in the face and where our ignorance leads.