When thinking of the idea of freewill, you may typically believe that all of your actions are indeed the will of your conscious mind. You think about raising your arm, so you do it.
Amazing, powerful freewill you’re exhibiting.
How about if I told you to not think of a white cloud? You just did. Was that the will of your conscious mind, to think of a white cloud? Surely not, because I told you not to think of a white cloud, yet you still did.
Many of your rationalizations about anything in the world are learned as you are growing, from the womb to adulthood. The things you see and hear influence the way that your subconscious mind develops. In turn, your subconscious mind itself plays a pivotal role in how your conscious mind operates.
It is part of your flawed survival mechanisms.
You, as a child, step onto hot asphalt with your bare feet on a hot summer afternoon. It is so hot that you have to run off the asphalt (fight or flight). Your feet have severe burns. Your brain registers this as an event, taking into account the emotions and physical pain that you felt, so that you never do it again.
The actions made during this event were mostly happening through your subconscious.
Sure, you may have decided to step onto the asphalt yourself, unaware of how hot it would be as a child. But the actions that happened in the moment you felt pain: were those conscious efforts? Did you need to think about taking the first step away from the asphalt, then the next step, and how your arms should behave to balance yourself without falling over?
Your Subconscious Runs Your Reality
The subconscious mind is essentially your personal super computer. It accounts for actions and feelings that you’ve done, or are about to do, and cross references it with all of the knowledge stored in your brain, while also utilizing its programming to take predetermined actions.
You did not have to think about running off that hot asphalt, you simply did.
Don’t take this the wrong way: that part of your survival mechanism isn’t flawed; it was the smart thing to do, and it would have been the correct decision to make regardless of which part of your mind controlled the action. Nonetheless, it was an action taken that you did not consciously make.
If you take this concept and use it over the course of one’s entire life, suffice it to say that there are many actions in your life that were taken on a subconscious level. From that “decision” not to go to your prom because your subconscious floods you with negative feelings of being around groups of people, to not applying for a job because you don’t feel you’re qualified enough for it.
You want something, yet you don’t go after it because you feel a certain way. That feeling, which is your subconscious firing millions of times per second, is dictating what you should do.
Freewill and Its Existence
Most of your thoughts happen without… thought. You do not always consciously decide to remember bad experiences in your past, making you feel low in the moment.
It is also very hard for you to stop thinking certain thoughts, is it not? Are you consciously thinking thoughts that you don’t want to think?
Think about it.
While I am not one to say that freewill does not exist (it very well can), one major factor you need to discover is whether you have freewill or not. You, as an individual — not you as one human being of many.
The first step to discovering this is by becoming aware of the many thoughts that happen, as they happen. Then, to examine these thoughts, the feelings that follow them, and the path that they take through your mind.
Many would call this act of awareness “mindfulness meditation.”
Therein lies your answers. You are the only one that can find them. Look within, not with-out. Only then can you begin to reframe your mind and take back the power that belongs to you.