What are your dominant thoughts and feelings? What thoughts and feelings do you encourage and which ones do you discourage?
A wide range of thoughts and feelings are available to all of us. We express our free will by choosing which thoughts and feelings we give our time and attention. We tend to give our attention to the thoughts which most attract us. The attraction may be positive or negative. We may be attracted to a thought, because it brings a good feeling; or we may be attracted to a thought, because it frightens us into paying attention to it (if it is a thought about a “terrible” thing which might happen).
We may even be attracted to a thought because it fits in with a negative feeling which we are habituated to, such as nervousness, anger or resentment. If we are in the habit of feeling resentful and a thought comes along which makes us feel resentful it is tempting to cling to that thought and feed the resentment. Such habits are really a loss of free will as the more we indulge in them the less free will we have. Like a creature caught in a swamp. We in essence have freedom of movement, but we are stuck in a situation where we cannot use it. We need to get out of the swamp first. To use our free will we need to get out of the habit of swampy or murky thinking.
We tend to have habits of thinking and feeling. These may help or hinder our progress through life depending on their quality. Paying attention to our thoughts and how they affect our feelings is the beginning of free will. Our will is not truly free till we win that freedom. We win our freedom by rising above habitual patterns of thinking and establishing new ones more in accordance of with the highest and best within us.
Repressing our thoughts and feelings is not the answer either. Feelings of anger and fear have their place in life. Fear is what stops us walking in front of a bus, and anger lets us know when something is out of balance in our life. It is when these feelings, and the thoughts which support them, become habitual that the problem arises. Being angry or fearful to the point that it interferes with our ongoing capacity to enjoy life means that our thinking has taken a wrong turn.
If we feel stuck, it usually means we are stuck in our thinking. If we realise that we have got stuck. there is no point in adding to the problem by indulging in self-judgement and self-condemnation. Better to commend ourselves for becoming aware of what we have been doing and encourage ourselves to move on in whatever ways are possible in that moment. Any step forward, even a tiny one, deserves praise and encouragement. Indeed, encouraging ourselves is often the very thing which creates enormous breakthroughs.
Taking charge of our thoughts and feelings, and taking responsibility for them, enables us to truly have free will. Taking charge of our thoughts enables us to take charge of our life and from there to re-create it in beautiful, inspiring and enjoyable ways.