The great Pacific Northwest of the U.S. had its first taste of hot weather last week-end, so an ice cream dessert sounded like a perfect treat.  We went to the grocery store and stood in front of the freezer pondering the many frozen dessert possibilities.

As we counted-up the calories and the not-so-good-for-us options, we went home with a pint of strawberries instead.  We cherish the power to have choices and exercise our free will—-or in this case our “free won’t.”

Free won’t is your ability to veto your thoughts or impulses.  You don’t have to indulge in every choice or desire simply because it is available to you.  There are so many options today, you may feel an obligation to act on all of them: every email, phone call, text or the thousands of other distractions vying for your time and attention.

If your choices become unconscious, and you just react to whatever the stimuli might be, you are not really exercising free will.  Instead, you are at risk of slipping into the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™ and responding in a less than empowering way. You may end up feeling like a Victim to decisions and choices coming at you, or as we often are, a Rescuer and assume everything must be attended to.

But when you add the other side of the choice-making process by adding “free won’t”, you then have a complete picture of your power to choose.

This is a pretty big deal.  Embracing your freedom to choose also includes not choosing.  Because your mind has thousands of thoughts and opportunities during the day, exercising restraint or withholding actions is crucial to the conscious exercise of free will.

Think of your mind as a suggestion box receiving comments and requests from a variety of sources.  It is trying to get your attention but some of your ego-centric suggestions are ill-advised or just plain wrong.  Your ability to not choose is just as important as the thoughts or actions you do choose to act on.

Neuroscientists that study the brain have discovered there is a brief nanosecond between when the brain tells the body to get ready to act and the action itself.  This means that just before Donna’s arm reached into the freezer door at the grocery, there was a slim moment when her conscious mind had veto power.  This is where your choice point resides (and the idea of strawberries for dessert instead of ice cream became a conscious and healthier thought).

Free won’t is the power to not exercise an action.  Rather than being frozen by old habits, you have the power to observe yourself and wait…….for a second or even third thought, which gives more options from which to choose.  When you can pause and reflect more deeply on what you truly want, you can act more wisely and deliberately.

The shift from Victim to Creator is about taking personal responsibility for your actions.  There is great power in recognizing your freedom to choose not to act on harmful habits or thoughts, and simply let them pass, not needing to act on every impulse or feeling.

In the coming week, practice pausing, noticing and deciding—to act or not to act.  Free won’t gives new meaning to your free will.