As a clinical psychologist, I come across many trials and tribulations with which humans are faced on a daily basis. I am active as a practitioner, and I, along with everyone else, feel inundated with choices and influences from micro to macro: individuals important to me, community, state and national issues, and the human condition that seems inherent to us all. One of the concepts that I encounter, as a human being and as a clinician, is the fact that one must take responsibility for ourselves. My patients come to me with struggles about their concerns, and these often are around what they do, who they are, and what they believe. They look to me for guidance and enlightenment at one level, but sometimes for maintenance of that which brings them to their very conflict because it’s safer in some ways.
We are inundated with media telling us that our choices, our lifestyles, are actions, are all beyond our will. We are bombarded with reasons, explanations for our behavior, and with rhetoric that our choices come from a power outside of ourselves. One of the most paradoxically freeing and sobering realizations I have made is that I have free will and that I exercise it, even if the consequences cause me trouble. This knowledge negates regret. It negates both my feeling powerless, and negates my desire to remain blameless when I don’t like the results of my actions. This is adult and honest living that is often more difficult to face than giving over to something outside of myself – but it is also ultimately much more rewarding because it brings meaning to my thoughts, decisions and even impulses, beyond where I go when I shrug my shoulders and forget that it is my will that makes me human, who I am, and that I enforce it. I bring this ideology to my work, and I believe that in a micro sense, my patients benefit. In a macro sense, I believe the world benefits as we take our rightful place amongst fellow human beings and live as parts of a greater whole. The human spirit is strong, and that is a good thing even in the midst of our troubling moments and choices. We share free thinking and the ability to exercise our will, and this sets us apart from non-humans as it implies conscience, desire, avoidance – human concepts. I have learned to live more honestly and have worked to help people do the same, toward an elevated society and humanity.
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