I’m writing this after a long day, but I want to get my thoughts out before they disappear. Kris Kristofferson wrote (and sang, but not as memorably) “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose” and Janis Joplin made it famous. I have always loved that line. I find it to be so true. To be truly free, you can have no attachment. That is what this song lyric is saying.
In Existential therapy freedom brings with it responsibility. When you make choices which you are free to make, you take responsibility for those choices. You own them. They are your choices. And, in Existential theory, your choices are abundant.
So why am I writing all of this about freedom, and responsibility, and choices. Well, part of it is personal. I value freedom, probably too much. I want the ability to make the choices I want, and I pay costs for that. I make choices that maintain my freedom to choose, but that at times ultimately don’t seem healthy for me.
And that brings me to the other reason I am writing this. Some theorists believe you are at the mercy of your past, that your “choices” aren’t really choices at all, but preconditioned responses to stimuli. I would be obliged to agree at least partly with this. Our past influences our present. And at times we make poor decisions as a direct result of our histories, unconscious forces pushing us in a direction that might be difficult or even unhealthy, or as a reaction to something buried from the past. The unconscious is a powerful force. I’ve written about the unconscious role in attraction. In fact, an excellent book on it is called “A General Theory of Love.” The unconscious doesn’t stop there; it permeates much of our existence.
I guess what I am suggesting is for everyone to try to become more aware of what was previously unconscious. In other words, work at making your unconscious conscious. Think about your thinking. Ask yourself what drives you in the direction you are going. Try to determine what is going into the decisions you are making. Be responsible for your decisions. Recognize your freedom. And understand that you sometimes forgo freedom to have other comforts. But these are your choices, own them.