Notes on Personal Agency

“Suffering is the experience of the impossibility to escape oneself–an inescapable passivity.”

Are you truly free? Are you aware of your actions, why you do them, and are you actively choosing them?

You must have self-awareness in order to be free. This freedom is a kind of maturation of selfhood, which in turn increases your responsibility.  I refer to selfhood because I define the self as being a reflecting, self-aware individual, who is not entirely defined by its past experiences and environment. The self is necessarily an effectless cause, such that the part of it that is a true self is not an effect and has the ability to cause with the force of will. He who is not self-aware at all has little responsibility. With true freedom comes great responsibility, but can we say that if you have the ability to choose otherwise, you are automatically free?

This self-awareness or knowledge of oneself is not a step toward freedom; it is a condition for freedom. It doesn’t “push” you towards freedom. Self-awareness is not an action in itself; it is a precursor. It participates, but it does not drive a person to act. So if it doesn’t, then what does?

But you can never exist independently of your own habits. They influence our judgment of them and any change we can will to take place must always define itself in relation to the habits from which it emerges.

So then, our freedom, if we are to achieve it, seems to be always bounded.

Let us examine the case the we have sufficient motivation to do otherwise. An agoraphobic person who cannot bring himself to leave his house finds his house has caught on fire. Driven by the instinctual motivation to survive, he finds sufficient motivation to leave his house. Some psychologists say that because this motivation that exists to do otherwise, this person is not entirely pathological. They think their is an openness to their psychology from which a will can be built open to act otherwise. I do not think this necessarily follows, as the ability to act otherwise is a result of a motivation that is just as unchosen as the compulsion in question.

So then, are we still always compelled but by other, conflicting motivations?

Freedom must be the ability to do otherwise and consciously deciding in a directed manner. If desire underlies all motivation, to what extent can we force ourselves desire otherwise?

I am inclined to think that a person is free insofar as they can act without motivation. So where exactly is the “opening” where free will exists if motivation is a requirement to change? That motivation comes from somewhere, unless it is a spontaneous impulse, but that isn’t a choice either. I can only conclude that it is necessary for us to create our own motivation, being born entirely of our own reasoning, and choosing values that guide us by careful, independent reflection.

The ability to interject requires a sense of empowerment in the individual, and this largely comes from the ability to reinterpret your own story and embrace and account for your own narrative. True freedom is only attainable if you are not compelled by anything that has not been chosen consciously. We all have the capability to be free, as human beings with minds capable of distancing ourselves from desire. I suppose then, in order to be free, we must create sufficient motivation to be free. I do think that such motivation can be born entirely out of the self. It is the self’s own drive to further manifest itself.

 

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For Those Who are Lost in Life

The problem I have often found people to have is that they don’t know what their purpose in life should be or what their passion is. They are looking outside of themselves for something to be born in them that they believe is otherwise absent.

I think these people are asking the wrong questions. Each of us is already an individual. If you don’t already know who it is you are, then you haven’t exposed yourself enough to the world. But I think this is rarely the case. What are the things you are already drawn to, naturally? What are your preferences and desires? What qualities attract people to you? In what areas in life do you find yourself already excelling? And then once you can answer these questions, ask yourself, how can I be more of that?

If deep down you feel anxious or dissatisfied with your life, or even a vague melancholy that seems to follow you like a shadow, that you often distract yourself from until quiet moments where you find it there waiting for you, then this means something. It means there is something missing and that in order to be who you are, to express yourself more fully, then you must fill that space.

I suspect that many people, though they aren’t likely to admit it, know exactly who they are. Deep down, they know what it is they are drawn to and what areas in life they excel at naturally. I suspect that fundamentally, it’s not passion that these people lack, because a mind that feels anxious for deeper meaning is one that is already passionate. I suspect that these people are afraid. They lack the confidence to build their lives around who they really are. That requires a degree of boldness and comfort in yourself, to trust that your own self is a sufficient source of skill and meaning.

Don’t think that you should find a mold that suits you. We have only one life to live, so why not customize your life and your path to fit exactly who you are and who you feel compelled to become?

Don’t let an unwillingness to embrace yourself define you and your life. Trust that the answers are already within you and that you have a unique power that your mind is pressuring you to manifest, with all the signs it’s giving you.

 

 

 

The Successful Entrepreneur


The life of the entrepreneur is chaotic. The mind of the entrepreneur is steady. They know exactly what they want and their desire is relentless.

The successful entrepreneur detaches the pursuit from the particular yields of the world at such and such times and places. The pursuit is everything, it’s a universality that remains unaffected, and there is nothing and no one that can stop it. The successful entrepreneurial has a similar innate drive to thrive as one has to survive. It is a constant that they never tire from fighting for.

It’s like walking home in a storm… It’s raining, they have to navigate around many obstacles, and they can hardly see two meters in front of them, but they are certain of one thing and that is that they must get home.

Everything in their way is irrelevant. Part of the mind shuts off its experience of discomfort because the destination is not in question.

The successful entrepreneur treats problems like puzzles that they must solve. If they are backpacking and there is a river between them and the path back to civilization, and there is no other certain path, then they build a bridge, because they do not question whether they really want to survive. Survival is a decision that has been made from deep within, a decision so firm that it is no longer considered a choice–it’s considered a given, an instinct, something inherent. To realize one’s dreams, one must not consider, one must act and continue to act. It must be a decision so unreservedly accepted that the awareness of choice is lost.

To be driven to such an extent requires passion. Passion trumps fear; passion makes one lose sight of fear altogether. Fear is a distance, a hesitance, a consideration… the true entrepreneur is like the impassioned painter, who does not fear himself, criticize, or give into self-doubt during the act…they just paint. They do not separate themselves from the activity. For them, a lacking of some skill is only an impediment to the actualization of self-expression. They must improve so that they can paint exactly what they see and feel, because they are deeply driven to do so. Similarly, the goals of the entrepreneur serve as vehicles of their self-actualization. To be who they really are, they must overcome everything that stands in their way.

Passion is the ultimate strength. It is illogical, stubborn, and focused. If one has it, one must lose oneself to gain oneself.