What is self determination? Merriam-Webster defines self-determination as a “free choice of one’s own acts or states without external compulsion.” We decide to choose our path in life, free from letting others influence and decide what we will do, we have reached a state of self-determination. Once we have made a decision to choose the path of self-determination, how do we walk this path and learn to choose what is best in life for ourselves?
Being aware of your right to self-determination is always the first step toward living your life on your terms. There are so many people and things trying to influence you to act a certain way, buy a certain product, or behave the way they think you should. It can be hard to go against those outside influences and choose your own path. But happiness and fulfillment are the rewards when you decide for yourself what is best for you. Remember, no one has walked in your shoes. No one can decide how your life should play out. Your life is your canvas to create the beautiful work of art that is your life. If you can become aware of all these outside influences and create the mindset within yourself that you control your own destiny, then you have begun to develop the awareness you need to attain your goal of self-determination.
All of this in no way means that you should isolate yourself and not ever ask for advice or seek information. But when you become aware of your own needs in your life you can filter out good advice from self-serving advice from others. You’ll be able to filter out the advice that may have your best interests at heart from the advice that seeks to manipulate and control you. Seeking advice and information is what you should do before making decisions about your life. But when it comes time to make a decision, when you can make the decision after careful analysis and attention to what you need, you’ll be able to decide the best course for you. You’ll be able to move forward knowing it’s the best decision for you because you have taken the time to develop awareness of what you need.
When you become aware of your inner emotions you can recognize those emotions for what they are. This is the egoic mind trying to take you down a path that may not be in your best interest. Your ego wants things to be safe. It wants approval. It wants to build you up by tearing down others. Once you are aware of those things coming from the ego, you can acknowledge they are there. Once you can acknowledge the ego, you can learn to control those emotions and thoughts that originate in the egoic mind because you have developed awareness of those thoughts and emotions.
Awareness of your inner self-allows you to take the path of self-determination because you now know yourself. You can step back and determine which thoughts are originating in the egoic mind and which thoughts are useful and valuable. Once you know your inner self and your true passions, the path to self-determination becomes clear.
Some behaviors developed over the years can prevent us from reaching our goal of self-determination. Many of us have behaviors and beliefs that were instilled in us long ago by parents or peers. The attitudes of others can have an effect on our behaviors.
The mind of the person who is self-aware can look at those things and learn to modify those behaviors. For instance, as a child, we all wanted to please our parents. Having the praise of a parent raised our self-esteem and made us feel good about ourselves. However, when you became an adult, you also earned the right to self-determination. If you are trying to please your parents as an adult, then you are not able to do what is best for yourself. You are busy doing the things you think will earn the approval of your parents.
This is an extreme example. There are many other situations where you may be more concerned with how others see you than with creating a happy and fulfilled life for yourself. Whether it is pleasing a spouse, a parent, a boss, or any other person, you are losing the ability for self-determination if your decisions are based on what others want for you and not on your best interests and happiness.
The ways you conduct yourself in life has a big effect on your ability to practice self-determination. When you have positive thoughts and actions you attract positive people and situations into your life. The only person you can change is you. If you become a negative person or allow negative people into your life, then you are attracting more of that negativity with each passing day. You don’t have any reason to stay in a toxic relationship. You don’t have to accept the behavior of a friend or relative that always tells you how bad you are. You can’t change a relationship partner who is determined to inflict bad behavior upon you. You must extract yourself from those situations if you ever hope to have self-determination in your life.
Change is never easy. Change begins with a decision. Then you take one step toward the change you seek. Keep your eye on the goal and don’t give up if it doesn’t happen in the timetable you have decided upon. The Universe works on its own time. If you are patient and continue to work and seek change, the change will happen for you. Just don’t give up. Success comes to those who persevere in spite of setbacks.