WILL – a noun, something we have. Dictionary definitions stress the consciousness, and this is a puzzle for those who understand that we are human with our unconscious not the opposite of consciousness but the deeper unknown dynamic states of emotion, impulse and body, from which our separate consciousness arises. So – is ‘WILL’ any of these?
My definition: Will is indeed an outcome of conscious deliberate action, but not any old action, a very particular one, that has effect on all the other subsequent choices we make, consciously and unconsciously determined. We can make a conscious decision to attend to the self and observe what we can of its impulsive reactions.We are being willing to look at and distinguish two processes in our states of mind, that affect both inner and outer world view: the processes which Bion called “truth” and “lie” (the first primarily interested in what is actually there, the second primarily interested in gratification of what is wanted, as if it would be there). This willingness to look increases the probability that unconscious urge and conscious intent are in tune with each other, or indicates when and how they may not be. Then, to me, the notion of deliberate action in other spheres of decision making and choice makes sense. We have WILL because we have been willing in a particular way that is more interested in ‘truth’ than in ‘want’.
I find that this definition addresses problems of unconscious determinism, as though we could not be consciously responsible for our actions, and also addresses the problems of relativism: if everything is in part subjective how can anything be consciously willed?
It is of course an act of being: what is now called “mindful”. I have written about it previously as “use of self” an everyday use of the psychoanalysts’ “transference and counter-transference”.
If one is not mindful, then unconscious force, reactivity to circumstance, takes the place of willed aware intent. “Willy nilly” – what a really good word for this unhappy process. Willy nilly we are in it whatever it is, up to our necks, fooling ourselves that we know what we are doing. This is the state where “the road to hell is paved with good intention” because the mindful intention is not present.
In mindfulness, Will is taking a risk on the future, deliberately trusting interaction with the world. Truth will out, whatever I want. It is a promise. I will.