Free will isn’t free

Folks have strange notions on the philosophy of free will.

Whether you believe in the soul, that time is an illusion or that the universe is mechanically predictable, most of you believe in the power of choice.

Yes, even if you think free will can’t exist because the future is already determined…

Well, it’s hard to ignore what it feels like to make a decision.

It certainly seems like you sit down, reason through the evidence and arrive at the optimal outcome. From the inside, it feels like you – the real you – is making a choice.

Maybe it feels that way because, sometimes, that’s not what happens.

We’ve all made dumb choices while tired, stressed, drunk, in a hurry or distracted. The phrase “how could I have been so stupid?” often comes to tongue.

So it’s as if there are times when your free will is diminished – when something else can make your decisions for you.

This is what high-pressure sales tactics are all about. Again, I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. Someone gets in our face… overwhelms up with claims about what they’re selling… putting time pressure, social pressure, everything short of literal pressure on us… until we realise we’ve bought something we don’t want.

If free will can vanish like this, it suggests that it can come back.

And these episodes aren’t normal – we’re not normally drunk and talking with used car salesfolk – which suggests we normally control our actions and decisions.

Hypnotists – not to mention psychologists and neuroscientists – see it differently.

Our default mode of thinking isn’t rational, considered and wilful.

It, too, is driven by instincts and emotions.

That’s not to say, like some folks claim, that humans are irrational. We’re not. We use logic all the time.

Ideally, we use it to check what our instincts tell us. If you’ve ever had the urge to leap from a tall building but didn’t, you know what I mean.

But here’s the thing:

Thinking rationally is slow, which means we don’t use it in the moment. We can use it to reflect on something afterwards and figure out how to do better next time. Or we can use it to prepare for something coming up.

But, honestly?

We tend to not bother even with that.

How many decisions do you make every day – including the little stuff like what to wear and which hand to brush your teeth with? Easily thousands. How many actually matter? Maybe ten – but you never know which ten.

So you can’t reason your way through all your choices… and not even your important ones.

Instead, you run on autopilot, while your brain makes it feel like you’re aware and in control.

If you don’t believe this – if you believe you’re a rationally enlightened individual – then you will fail to make any real changes in your life.

Want to lose weight? Simple ‘choose’ to eat better… then watch in confusion as you reach for a 3pm chocolate hit.

Meanwhile, the person who understands this – who places the almonds within reach and the chocolate far away – will get the results they want.

You don’t fight your autopilot.

You work around it, until the new habits replace the old ones.

And the strange thing? You can even use your autopilot to break itself. If you’re in the habit of asking yourself to step back, slow down and do the calculations, you’ll seem like a genius to anyone running on pure instinct.

It’s not easy to do this – it takes time, patience and mental resources. But, hey, that’s the price you pay because free will isn’t free.

And like I said earlier, hypnotists tend to see the world this way. We see the autopilot running, even when the person running it can’t.

And we can see the problems this autopilot can create.

Thanks to hypnosis, we can also see how we might change the program to solve the problem. That gets results that are impossible with ‘willpower’ and ‘making better choices’ alone.

As always, you can sign up for some of that sweet, sweet hypnosis here:

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