On the way
I suddenly had to move over
but I didn’t know where in time.
Chalk white, gasping for breath,
conductor, I said,
I lost my ticket.
Bathed in sweat, I thought,
off my axis,
it wasn’t a return.
That’s the only thing
I know for sure.
– Saul van Messel – (Translation Peter Roemeling)
Many people don’t really know what they want. They lack direction and cannot find the right track. For this reason, they are not comfortable in their own skin. And they have the feeling that they are on the wrong train. Bathing in sweat, they come to me for an investigation to discover what they want. This is a journey of discovery that takes several months. Discovering one’s will is a journey with several set stops in between. Self-knowledge and knowledge of the world, imagination, weighing and making a choice. And if the traveler has enough baggage, it comes down to the courage to start a new adventure.
The free will
The starting point for departure is to believe in free will. There are those who believe that free will does not exist; we are unfree. We are predestined, everything is fixed. I don’t believe in that. Every human being has a choice to do or not to do something. However, you cannot will everything. It depends on circumstances. It is customization to discover your own will.
Freedom depends on a will. Therefore, if you do something that someone else wants, then you are not free. Then you are guided by someone else’s will. Your actions are then not well considered. For example, you may find out that you chose a certain study because your parents wanted it, while you yourself would have preferred to start a business. Unfreedom is uncertainty about what you want. To arrive at a will that is actually your will, knowledge about yourself and the world around you is essential.
Get to know yourself and the world around you
Self-knowledge is the basis for personal development and self-development. It is about knowing who you are and how you were formed into who you are today. Get to know the genesis of your personality, such as experiences from long ago and your parents’ influence on your development. Identifying blind spots and limiting beliefs is important.
The world around you is your mirror. How do other people see you? How do other people look at a situation? What do they think, what do they do and what do they feel? By putting yourself in other people’s shoes, you see that you can also have a different perspective on life. In short, use the diversity in the world to discover what matters to you. Discover how you too can be and who you too can become. Use art, culture, literature and good conversations to reflect and dream.
Imagination and visualization
If you have a good picture of yourself and the world around you, then you know what your starting point is. And you can get an overview of desires you want to fulfill. Then you can visualize what it is like when a wish is fulfilled. The tool at your disposal for this is the imagination or fantasy. You can imagine who you become when you decide to do that which you desire. You imagine how something feels, what your thoughts are, how you judge a certain situation. What is it like to quit an activity that is stressing you right now. Or what is life like when you take up a sport alongside your work for relaxation and more social contact. Or what is it like to change jobs and have a boss with a different style of management. This representation of who you can become takes you through the process of weighing what you actually want.
Forming your own will
Through the weighing and weighing you examine all the desires you have. You put things in order and gradually become convinced which wish is the strongest. And so you create the opportunity to come to a decision about which wish is most meaningful to you. You are free to choose what to do as long as there are other possibilities. The cognitive process of weighing is the formation of the will. Through your actions, a will is expressed. Your will is the wish that is stronger than other wishes you also have. The will is the winning wish. If that will is not well considered, then your conviction is weaker and your willingness more prone to doubt. Your willpower diminishes with the possible result that the will never becomes a reality.
You can develop yourself by striving to be a certain way in the world; you can “want to become someone. Because everyone is unique, this requires manual labor. There is no training for it, only guidance. To develop sufficient self-knowledge, you can use the world around you as a mirror. By using your imagination and by weighing and weighing you can process all the knowledge about yourself and about the world around you logically and come to a convincing choice of what you actually want. Then, when the opportunity is there, and you can choose from multiple possibilities, when there is room to come to actions that express your will, and when you also have the right skills, one thing remains: courage.
You step out of a comfort zone, you get out of balance, you come “off your axis. You are going to undertake something new and that takes courage to take a step. Personal development is not a round trip, it is a one-way trip to an unknown destination. A destination you can only reach with the courage to make a new beginning.
And if you finally reach a destination, then the whole process begins from scratch. Then it’s time to move on again.
Personal development is a one-way journey.
That’s the only thing you can be sure of!
Sources and more information
The above comes in part from Excelling in Freedom, A Recipe for Personal Development and is based on The Craft of Freedom by Peter Bieri.