Dreams of life are not as unattainable as many of us believe. An interview with the psychologist Tom Diesbrock about freedom and self-determination
Tom Diesbrock: Yes, the biggest limitation is not recognizing what options I have. Many people want to change their lives and do not see what they can do.
Freedom scares many people because they feel threatened by the diversity of their possibilities. As soon as I recognize the possibility of change, I have to deal with it and then decide how I want to act. That could change my worldview. On the other hand, it is easier to make oneself comfortable in his fate as a poor sow and to rant. After all, I can not help it – how practical! But then I pay a high price for my convenience.
How can I tell if I’m in my own way?
Two symptoms: First, I spend a lot of time justifying why I can not change my situation. Some make it almost a full-time job to explain to others that there is no other way. So if I keep finding myself collecting seemingly reasonable arguments against my idea, I should listen. Then something is wrong. There are always possibilities, we always have a choice!
And the second point?
I feel that I am dissatisfied, but I do not become active. Dissatisfaction is a very important engine if we use it creatively. For that, I have to allow this insight but in the first place: Yes, I’m dissatisfied. This is an important first step.
Only the will makes the difference?
The will and a dose of courage, but that belong together.
How can I outsmart my despondency?
You do not have to outsmart yourself. If you are afraid of change – wonderful! It is less constructive to not even notice the fear and to hide the possibilities from the outset. Of course, if I want to sing, I can not say, “I can not. Then that’s it. But I can also say: I would like to sing, but I am also afraid of it. Then I realize my inner ambivalence and I am one step further. I can ask myself: what exactly am I afraid of? What’s the worst thing that can happen? How realistic is that?
Then I can think about alternatives. To stay singing: When I’m scared of being laughed at, I can start at home where no one can hear me. Or I take singing lessons. Whether I eventually have an audience is irrelevant, because I’m on the right track.
The route is the goal?
Exactly. Even if my vocals do not please the first listeners, at least I sang. It is important to take small steps that you can master. Small success stories give courage for further steps. Who in our example has equal full concert halls in mind, will not even start.
But is not it may be too late for some changes anyway?
If I want to become an astronaut in my mid-forties, that probably will not work. Then I have to ask myself what exactly fascinates me about the profession. Astronomy? The technology? I can also deal with this without having to fly straight into space. That’s the crucial question: is it perhaps a number smaller? Can I possibly fulfill a part of the dream? The freedom is in the small. I can look for a lot of small limits in everyday life, which I would like to expand.