In the words of Roberto Assagioli, it is necessary for our will to be good, as well as strong and skillful. Only this is the true and whole will; only such a will can give us both practical success and the highest inner satisfaction.
I learned about good, strong and skillful will during a year long personal development course I completed based on Psychosynthesis and the teachings of Roberto Assagioli. I was drawn to the teaching because of its spiritual and psychological framework and because the course is experiential by nature. The fact it was founded in Italy was also a bonus, having spent many years living there. Psychosynthesis is a beautiful model based on the idea that we are influenced by our immediate consciousness, our unconscious and also the collective unconscious. And that while we have an "I" at the level of personality and identity, we also have a Higher Self which can be equated with our essential nature.
Even though what I write about Psychosynthesis might not be 100% faithful to the model or the intentions of Assagioli, it is most definitely what I learned and have integrated into my life and practice.
I won't go too heavily into the Psychosynthesis model because it has many layers and dimensions to it.
How we relate to, and direct our will is a core aspect of Psychosynthesis. And what I took from it was simple but very powerful:
We have free will, and there is also universal will - call this Destiny, Fate, God, the Divine, Karma, Life. Call it what you like, the fact is that we don't have total freedom to choose entirely what happens to us. We do have the freedom, however, to choose how we respond to our lives. We have free will. Our free will can be divided into strong, good and skilful will. I will simplify.
Strong Will is all about Me, and what I want. Strong will is determined and focused.
Good will is all about you, what you want, what the Universe might want. Good will is relaxed, open and kind.
Skilful will considers strong will, and good will and acts consciously and according to the values inherent in both the other two aspects of will.
Ok, so I understand this might sound confusing but please bear with me and I'll give you an example.
A good friend texts you to ask whether you can look after their child for the morning on Saturday. They say that they don't have any other options. You don't know exactly why they need you to do this, but you have already decided that you need a day to yourself on Saturday as you've been tired and stressed at work. Your strong will is asking you to say No, and look after yourself on Saturday, but your good will is wondering what your friend needs to do on Saturday, why you are her only option and how important it is that you are there for her needs. You are also wondering about the bigger picture and whether both your needs can be accommodated somehow. So, tapping into your skilfull will, you decide to ring her to have an honest and open conversation. While talking to her you realise that your friend and her husband are having issues and they need some time without their son on Saturday to talk about what they both want. Having asked all family members in town, your friend realised that you were her only option. She admitted that she chose to text, rather than call, as she felt uncomfortable asking. Tuning into the different aspects of will you realise that you need time to yourself (strong will) but you also want to be there for your friend (good will) so skilfully (skilful will) you offer to look after her son for 2 hours on the Saturday morning, leaving enough time during the remainder of the day to focus on self-care. You feel good about this decision as you have been there for a friend without neglecting your own needs.
I think tuning into these aspects of will in mind and in body is very important. I believe, how we choose to direct our will, taking into consideration kindness, and self-care, is a fundamental aspect of well-being and personal growth.