Personal agency

This is a concept that came to me a while ago,
while facing my current life situation.

It refers to the capacity, of not identifying oneself with past experience, but just looking at the technical potential and acting as an agent thereof, concerned with actualizing one’s personal potential and aim for a desired future outcome.

The problem it tries to overcome is being limited by negative past experience or limiting beliefs.

One method is iterative improvement, for instance in a way that recasts limiting beliefs, especially fears, through taking them on and realizing that things aren’t that bad or one already is or can develop to be more within. “For not to face an issue is to belief that the worst is true”, a saying by Ayn Rand that has been deeply inspiring to me.

Overcoming fears and letting go of limiting beliefs, especially the first time can be really challenging, and it is often more comfortable to stay within what is familiar, even though dysfunctional, especially before one starts to trust the process. This is probably where Jesus saying “the truth will set you free.” and I personally would add “ultimately”.

Example: mountain running

There is a mountain, I once organized a group of people to, later on I would go there alone, quite often. In the beginning there were places I was scared to come too close to the edge, even when I was a couple of feet away. However, going there repeatedly has helped me to calibrate, between what I feel afraid of and my actual physical capacity in that particular environment.

Imagine a circle of physical capacity, and a smaller one within the first, what I think my capacity is limited to and hence would start to feel fear. Repeated experience and practice naturally helped me to increase the outer circle, but also allowed for gradually increasing the inner circle of perceived capacity. At times I payed less attention, made a misstep or slightly lost balance, even though almost nothing really bad happened – except for a bloody knee and some temporary pains -, I still took the lesson to adapt my awareness, and pay a little more attention.

Fear vs reality

Now a lot of situations are more complex than this, but differentiating between feeling and reality, recognizing fear as my personal limiting factor is indeed a powerful lesson.

I generally like to look at negative factors, because there is usually more to get there. Especially negative emotions and experiences can be a gold mine for personal growth. That is, if you have the stomach for it, or better said, the compassion and can hold emotional space and be open to what is going on inside.

Last year, I found myself in a lot of personal negativity, feeling that what I am, my potential, what I can bring to the table, is not what is valued by society, in the sense that I could use it as means of exchange to give and get in-turn what I need and want.

My past

There have been much worse things in my life, especially the first 20+ years, where despite my own effort, I haven’t achieved an external state I would call satisfying. To be honest, objectively speaking I still did a lot of things, especially during my 20s, learned a lot, and also got a few advantages on my way (my biological parents are not one of those, though even that could’ve been worse), but in total, there has been a lot of struggle, without getting externally what I want.

Many times, I thought if this is what I can get from life, than I don’t want it and I wouldn’t choose to live again. However, there’s been too many situations where my own perception has limited me, or where I learned later, what would have solved the problems I’ve met earlier with. So all these were lessons, payed for by painful experience, until I humble myself to be open, learn the lesson and move on to the next.

Getting stuck in my own perspective, shaped by past experience and failure, it might be easy to feel pity for myself or anyone out there, or just wanting to leave this life behind, however, another powerful alternative is to focus on the realization of my personal potential. This is my mission, this is what I am here for.

Honest with myself?

When I am being honest with myself, even in the midst of negativity, I know there is a possible potential for hope, where there is something I could do something about, that I am not already doing, where I would be lying, by ignoring the potential I see.

There is a Chinese book’s subtitle “幸運的人用童年治癒一生,不幸的人用一生治癒童年 ”, loosely translates to: “fortunate people can use their childhood to heal their life, unfortunate people need to spend their life’s healing their childhood”. Nobody chooses their family, and often a family of origin can be a significant part of the source of a problem, even when they are to blame, that doesn’t mean they will take responsibility.

However, I as an individual entity, can I allow myself to spend my time on earth, dwelling on external injustice or the maltreatment I received and might have caused, or can I take control of what is within my personal control?
Letting oneself rage like a kid, might have been my natural reaction, but is it the best one?
If I didn’t get what I need or want, why not create with what I got?

There is optimism here and a choice, not the “happy go lucky”, that makes you die young, but an honest assessment of one’s true potential or at least the recognition of bad beliefs holding myself back. And a choice to act from the best within me, towards the best I can conceive of in the external situation.



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