Freedom of Choice

The second inbornintention is freedom of choice.

It is imperative to make choices

We must make choices in order to function, to maintain control and to grow. It is generally advantageous to have more options than fewer, and it is highly desirable to be able to choose freely among them. By doing so, we move towards freedom of choice.

External restrictions

We may relinquish our options either voluntarily or under duress, but the intent continues to make unrestricted choices whenever possible.We do so for our own benefit, for others or for society in general. For instance, limiting a child’s choices is part of a parent’s responsibility, even though youngsters frequently fail to appreciate that the restrictions are for their own good.

Rather than being beneficial, individuals or groups can be restricted in ways that are contrary to human dignity. Examples abound. The civil rights movement is about removing onerous restrictions on an entire race. Also, in previous generations, it was the societal norm to restrict women to working only in the home and to disenfranchise them as well.

Internal restrictions

A greater restriction on our choices comes from a factor far more powerful than any imposed by society. When making a choice, ether consciously or automatically, we access lessons learned from experience as our guide for decision-making. Unless we are exercising our imagination or making conscious and deliberate choices, what we have learned from our experiences automatically dictate the choices that we make. These lessons limit our freedom of choice.

Besides restrictions imposed by experience, choices are internally constrained in another way. Since we must protect ourselves, conscious and subconscious choices and rational decision-making are derailed when we are threatened. Behaviors following a perceived threat automatically become efforts to protect the self, and any choice unrelated to the present danger becomes irrelevant. The presence of a threat compromises rational decision making and restricts choices.

When you have to make a choice

Making one choice precludes making another that might be more beneficial. Fear of doing this may paralyze you from making any choice at all which is, of course, a choice in itself. At decision time, it is usually a good idea to make the choice that retains as many options as possible.

The source of freedom of choice

The early choices our predecessors had to make involved only food, shelter, clothing and reproduction. A minimum of awareness was required to distinguish between the beneficial and the useless when choices were limited, but as more opportunities presented themselves, decision-making proliferated. This process, over millions of years, eventually evolved into the freedom of choice enjoyed today.

A question for your consideration and comment

What are the major restrictions on your choices?

Next step: Go to Sense of Accomplishment