THIS BEING THE CASE, WHAT SHOULD I DO? The self-empowered mindset BY: Troy Murphy |September 2015
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Which things we have power over and which things we don’t is never completely clear, making freewill complex. Even when we do have clear choices, often the choices are not clearly defined as right or wrong; there are a million shades of grey. Choices come with a different makeup of benefits and drawbacks; increasing the risk of failure may increase the potential for profit—but you may fail, and some failures are costly. For example, when we buy a house, there are several considerations, the size of the house, the size of the yard, upgrades needed, the location, and the price. To keep within budget, we need to balance the different factors, sacrificing one area to gain in the other. Finding a balance is an individual process. There’s not a single right answer. Once chosen, we live with the choice.
Individual preferences give weight to the different elements in choice. I prefer a big yard and am not concerned about traveling time to the nearest Wal-Mart; others find this crazy—they much prefer a small yard and conveniently located near shopping, entertainment and the hustle of big city life. Childhood’s and biological givens combine, build on each other, and form desires, the underlying mechanisms pulling us to and pushing us away from elements of choice. It’s fairly easy for me not to do things which I have no inclination to do. Some, for a complex construction of reasons, are inclined to do harmful things, and they do them. Inclinations do not justify action. We can understand the impact of impulses have deeper compassion for those choosing different than we would; while still working for the larger good, the good of the individuals, and the good of the society.
Personal responsibility defies underlying impulses. We can’t deny the existence of influencing emotions that creating different challenges; but we can’t simply excuse harmful behavior because the actor was inclined by emotions to act that way. The most horrendous crimes are emotionally driven. The human ability to identify, scrutinize and act in opposition to an impulse has huge social and individual implications. This process of self-empowerment expands futures. Perhaps we will never completely disentangle the arguments between freewill and predetermination—where one ends and the other begins. Suffice it to say, somewhere between impulses and actions lies the dead zone, the space where we interrupt the process, achieve greater clarity, and choose a more beneficial path. This is self-empowerment.
The self-empowered mindset motivates action outside the dictates of internal programming. When we focused on freedom of choice, we become more interactive with opportunities and ultimately more productive. Conversely, helplessly blaming circumstances and inner impulses for failures, we lose vision for personal interventions to change unfavorable directions.
Personal responsibility is not, however, always taking the blame, suffering with guilt, and labeling ourselves failures. We’re not personally responsible for every sorrow, pain, or illness we suffer. Life is complex; outside forces are constantly present—some events hurt. We may do the right things and still be disappointed. When outside influences inflict unavoidable pain, our self-efficacy is challenged. When we do the best we can and still fail, the failure wears on our resolve. Painful encounters offer wisdom, encourage self-reflection, and greater insights.
Through reflection, often personal behaviors contributing to the failure emerge. These insights become avenues of adjustment. Sometimes no deeper wisdom is found, challenging our resolve to move forward. We must accept these unexplainable events without manufacturing causes--causes that don’t exist. We accept and ask, “Being this is the way it is, moving forward, what actions should I take?”
Moving forward doesn’t magically heal hurt. The problem doesn’t dissolve. We will still naturally flow through a grieving process, challenged to process the difficulties or loss. But by redirecting our personal circumstance back to the realm of self-efficacy, we empower ourselves to constructively respond.