Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 60 of 154 
Next page End Contents 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65  

confusing," that too is a lawful decision based on your past experience,
your self-concept, your calculation of the consequences, your tired or
frustrated feelings, your inclinations to deny the problem, etc., etc.
Thus, there are understandable reasons and laws for both careful, wise
choices and for impulsive, foolish decisions. So, the determinist would
say that whatever choice we make would have to be lawful at that
moment (we might change our mind in a few seconds, though). The
concept of free choice is probably more of an illusion than an act
without a cause. We are not free to be unlawful. 
To many people, determinism and thinking of everything in terms
of cause and effect relationships seems like it would restrict their
freedom, maybe even imply predestination. We value freedom; we
want to be free of control by others or circumstances or even fate.
First of all, it should be helpful to distinguish between two aspects of
freedom: (a) how wide a range of opportunities are provided by your
family, your education or employer, your religion, your government,
your friends, your abilities, your conscience, your economic situation,
your social customs, your awareness of the possibilities, and so on?
This is what most politicians are referring to when they speak of
"freedom." There is another meaning: (b) how possible is it to think or
act in ways that are contrary to the laws of human behavior? The
determinist would say, "No possibility! Can water flow up hill?" As
illustrated by the career decision process in the last paragraph, when
any behavior occurs, the determinist assumes that it is caused, that it
is lawful (the to-be-expected, inevitable outcome of the causes
existing at that moment). Remember, determinism doesn't rule out
making bad choices, acting impulsively, freezing up, becoming
psychotic or anything else that is lawful. Determinism doesn't restrict
your options (except you can't do things that are impossible or
unlawful), but at any one moment only one choice or action is lawful.
A moment later another choice might be lawful if you thought of
another factor or started feeling differently about one of the options. 
It seems like you have more freedom if you have many options
and lots of self-control. Some people can see only one solution to a
problem; some people think they can do very little or nothing to
improve their situation. Yet, humans are so capable and there are so
many possible solutions to most problems that there are usually many
solutions. The question is: how many solutions do you consider? This
influences your final choice of what to do, although your choice, either
simple or complex, is determined by the causes and effects operating
in your head at that instant. We are "free" in the sense that we can
know and use the laws of behavior to change ourselves, to learn
more about the situation or self-help, to see more options, to view the
situation differently, to change our "minds," expectations, emotions,
and attitudes, to try a new approach, etc. Our mental activity becomes
another cause of our behavior or feelings, sometimes the dominant
cause. Our mind creates our freedom (within the limits of what is
lawful). This is not always a conscious decision-making process, our
minds will often change without any effort on our part because the
interplay among the myriad of laws is constantly changing--we see the
situation differently, our feelings change, we become interested in
Previous page Top Next page

« Back