Will you or won’t you? Feeling powerless and having no choice

will and choice psychosynthesis counselling totnes, paignton and newton abbot


I sometimes get the feeling of stuckness in my life, that nothing can change. I can feel powerless and short of options.

Of course there are no easy options when life feels like that. However, one of the great ideas in Psychosynthesis that resonates with me is about our will: the power to act or not. At the core, having will means we have choice. With choice, we have responsibility and therefore can take responsibility for our life. In theory, it’s as simple as that!

So what does having will mean? In Psychosynthesis we distinguish between different types of will. The most common types are strong will and skilful will. Here are a couple of examples.

Strong will is when we use determination and our core strength and resolve to get something done or a view across. Can you imagine times in your life when you have battled through against the odds, when people were saying it wasn’t possible or things seem stacked against you? Getting through that takes strong will.

Skilful will is about using your mind and capabilities to navigate through a challenge. Say, for example, you are in conflict with a neighbour about a fence or noise. Using skilful will you might find away of negotiating a win-win or a compromise which works for both of you or perhaps even of getting your way.

At the heart of both these examples is an active choosing to do something or not, taking responsibility for a situation and finding a way to move through it. It’s sometimes easier said than done, particularly if we feel victimised, the wronged party, or that life has simply dealt us some very tough cards. But it does open up the possibility for change.

The good news is that will can be practised and developed. Every day we make 100s of choices – what to eat, to wear, where to go and when. If you start noticing these choices and how you have the power to influence them in your life, you become conscious of your will. And with that, you can start to develop it further, pausing before saying ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘It’s not fair.’ Acting through our will can be liberating but it also brings a deeper responsibility as we can no longer say we are completely powerless.

A brief disclaimer here. I understand there are some situations where will or not, we have no power, for example where acts of violence or aggression are committed against us and I’m not suggesting that we are responsible for these situations. My focus is more on the everyday things we can influence. These can operate at some many different levels, whether choosing to go via a different route to work to deciding to change jobs, end a relationship, move home. And also to realise that sometimes we choose to do nothing. And in that choosing, we also perform an act of will.

By Matt Fox – Counselling in Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott  www.mattfoxcounselling.co.uk

Photo by Armando Maynez licensed under Creative Commons