The Power of Decision is My Own: Confronting the Existential Realities of Loss and Freedom

When faced with a decision or choice, what do you find is your biggest fear? What is the source of resistance that either results in holding off on making the decision or leaves you with a sense of guilt or regret after making it?

We make decisions nearly as often as we inhale and exhale and even when we’re not making a decision, we’re quite often actually making a decision to not make a decision. When exploring the nature of human dilemma, the dilemma of decision cannot be ignored. Why do we struggle with decision? what is it about even the the most seemingly simple decisions that leaves a sense of anxiety that becomes the status quo?  Asking these questions may seem mundane, however, an individual and authentic exploration of this topic can bring much self awareness, liberation and healing.

Freedom of choice would seem to be a very positive area of human experience. Why not…we all want to make our own decisions right? Having this freedom also brings a burden of responsibility and is actually overshadowed by one of the primary existential dilemmas: Freedom Anxiety! As much as we believe we want the freedom to make our own decisions, we often resist this very freedom and fear the truth that we are in fact responsible for our own lives. We are constantly faced with the corresponding anxiety that keeps us further from true freedom and liberation.

When I was 5 years old, I remember riding my tricycle in front of our house and a thought came to me. To this day, it is one of my most fearful experiences. At this very young age, I began thinking about the fact that I would be an adult someday and I would be responsible for my own life.  This thought of future burden and freedom was terrifying. From that age on, throughout my childhood, I would constantly be faced with this fear of being on my own, responsible for my own life without mom and dad.  I was experiencing freedom anxiety before I even reached the time when I would be faced with this freedom and power of decision that I feared. In actuality I was already making decisions at this time. And that decision for me was to fear freedom and responsibility. I became fearful of life and it set the course for my future relationship with freedom.

As I ask myself the questions at the beginning of this post, “When faced with a decision or choice, what do you find is your biggest fear? What is the source of resistance that either results in holding off on making the decision or leaves you with a sense of guilt or regret after making it?”, what comes to mind is I don’t wan’t to make a mistake or make the wrong decision. And upon even deeper contemplation I find that what i’m actually fearful of is dismissing the other options that are available. It is actually the sense of loss that is inevitable when a decision is made. This became very clear to me after reading a passage in “the Gift of Therapy” by Irvin Yalom. Death comes to the remaining options that we had at our disposal when a decision is made. When we look at the dilemma of decision, it is actually rooted in the anxiety surrounding loss. The fear of loss and the freedom to choose is a conundrum. Upon our decision in any given situation, there is sure to be loss which we hold the power over. And when we choose not to make a decision (to avoid loss), we inevitably suffer loss by foregoing any and all options.

With freedom comes responsibility and with responsibility comes the power of decision. To the degree we accept and embrace this responsibility, our quality of life will follow accordingly. At the end of the day, the truth remains, that in every conceivable way, we are responsible for our own lives through our decisions.  Remember that loss is inevitable and no matter how we try to convince ourselves otherwise, it cannot be avoided. Look at your relationship with loss and check in with yourself as to how difficult or easy you handle loss of any kind (relationships, possessions, life, etc). There is a study that shows the most effective people make decisions quickly and change their minds slowly and the most ineffective people make decisions slowly and change their minds quickly. Decisions must be made and YOU must make them. Accept your FREEDOM and step into your POWER!

“The power of decision is my own” ACIM

 

With Love and Realness,

Mike

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