Capable Capable
Capable Capable

Are you in charge of your life?

Some of us are attracted to the idea of autonomy. For example, we may experience a bond with imperatives related to intellectual integrity, responsibility and trustworthiness. Maybe the bond is not recognized or animated; yet we’re disappointed in ourselves when we’re not thoughtful and dependable. Maybe we never named the attraction “autonomy” but there is something about the examined life that appeals.

As it turns out, though, life is not so easily examined and autonomy not so easily won. Each of us is already shaped and governed by our genes, by developmental instincts and by social forces. Yet we reflexively and self-righteously defend the determination as if we’ve thoughtfully authored it.

In other words, though we’re smart, our communicative and cognitive behavioral center, i.e., the determined ego-function, gets in the way of our ability to think independently, to be objective, rational and fair. Happily, our study of autonomy and life is designed to provide an encompassing descriptive and practical force with respect to examining and managing the mechanisms internal to the determination.

For example, we can’t help but think that we are in charge of our lives. We live in a free country and even if we didn’t plan our lives, we know we could have. And though we may think we could have studied more, invested smarter, exercised longer and eaten more fruits and vegetables, we were in command of our choices, decisions, etc. Weren’t we?

Let’s apply the perspective and vocabulary of our discipline to what may have been our reflexive conclusions. We do have opinions, beliefs and convictions about what’s true and what’s false, and most may be firm, even vehement and uncontestable. But how did we get them? Did we spend time in debate clubs, read the best and brightest minds on the subject at hand, or do we feel these convictions in our hearts? Our bones? Our guts? Sometimes we hear a parent say to a child, “Who put that idea into your head?” How did our opinions and beliefs get into our head?

Moreover, although we may have spent little time thinking through our strong ideas or certainties about what constitutes right and wrong or good and bad, we probably have standards by which we judge others. What makes us so sure?

So, yes, you think, feel, listen, speak, read, write and act in a particular way. But did you create this particular way of being and are you in charge of it? If you didn’t author it, who or what was the authority?

The key to being in charge of your life is the means you choose and the daily safekeeping and moment-to-moment practice of your study of autonomy and life. What I refer to as decisive moments don’t begin as remarkable; they happen all day long. What makes them meaningful is the decision you make to extend yourself beyond your initial determination. What contribution might you make? What gratitude might you express? What antagonism might you reject?

Are you open to developing your autonomy? Here's a plan of action! Examine our website. If you find it interesting, do the Retreat Workshop. Thank you for your interest. I appreciate it.  

Arnold Siegel is the founder of Autonomy and Life and leader of its Retreat Workshops and Advanced Classes.