Almost everyone is familiar with the concept of free will. It’s a controversial subject, to be sure. In fact, some folks question whether such a thing really exists. That’s understandable. So much of what we do appears influenced by our environment. Moreover, some situations seem to significantly restrict our options. So, many question whether we’re truly free to chose. Perhaps circumstances dictate our choices. I think not. Our unique attributes as humans are high intelligence and free will. Integrity of character is largely about how we routinely exercise our will.
Most know I’ve worked with impaired characters for a long time. And I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things along the way. One of the things I’ve come to know deeply is how willful disturbed characters can be. Unfortunately, a strong will is not necessarily a healthy one. Nor is a strong will necessarily a properly informed or structured one. Accordingly, willfulness can be a big problem in itself. Disturbed characters create problems not so much because they have strong wills but because of how they exercise them.
Now, some folks simply aren’t willful enough. Others or circumstances too easily influenced or sway them. And they’re too willing to subordinate their own will to the stronger will of others. This is just as big a problem as is a willful person making bad choices. It’s uniquely human to have free will. But only folks evolved spiritually and in character are mindful to exercise it prudently.
The Seventh “Commandment” of Character
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing another “commandment” of solid character development. And we’ll be looking at it from both a psychological and spiritual perspective. To refresh, here is the 7th axiom experience has taught me we must heed to be spiritually and psychologically healthy:
Strive to develop strength, solidity, and rightness of purpose with regard to your will.
Three aspects of this command stand out. First, we do well to develop strength of will. Some folks call this willpower. Interestingly, there are actually things we can do to strengthen our wills. So we’ll be talking about how to accomplish that. Second, it helps if our wills are solidly constructed. They need to weather the storms of life. What’s the difference between strength and solidity? Think of a wooden beam. Now think of one with a knot in the middle of it. Both the knot and the rest of the wood have plenty of strength. But because the beam is not solid and uniform in composition, it has an inherent weakness. Just the right pressure in the right place, and it could collapse. Third, a healthy will is a properly directed one. It’s a will exercised with purpose and guided by sound conscience. (See also: Conscience and Conscientiousness.)
Forging a Healthy Will
We’ll be discussing how one develops a healthy will in the coming weeks. We will explore the primary function of our free will. We’ll also be discussing how to make it strong. And finally, we’ll be taking a look at how to properly guide it.
Check out some of the updates on the Seminars page. Another venue (Salt Lake City) is slated for November. Details on that workshop will be coming soon.