Agency is the ability to create our own experience in the world. Everything changes when we assert dominion over our own lives. Without this belief, the easy path is the slippery slope into victimhood. Without the experience of agency, life becomes a series of habitual reactions and dealing with the consequences of impulsive behaviors.
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The power of agency can reach into our remembered past by helping us reframe our memories to give us a more robust experience in the present. In real-time, we can be the author of the meaning we apply to our life encounters. With agency, we can imagine a better future—and step into it with confidence.
What matters? Do your experiences act on you, or do you act on your experiences? Does the experience itself matter, or is it the meaning you assign to your experience? What is the source of the meaning of your experience? When we ask the question this way, we have now asked the right question. It becomes obvious that the experience itself can’t determine the meaning. We are left with the conclusion, desired or not, that we have agency, and we determine the meaning of our own experiences.
Once we use this model, a new powerful position in the world is available. The outside world no longer determines our experience. But this model also demands responsibility from us if we are the agents of our own experience.
Agency creation starts with real-time awareness. As we observe our internal state and our reactions any quickly triggered behavioral circuit can be rerouted through the executive function of our prefrontal cortex. We are then able to complete the circuit from the perspective of our higher-level selves. The more we experience the power of agency, the more competent we are and the more ability we have to expand this power.
How can you take advantage of the power of agency? You can deliberately shape your world. This is an intentional state of being and can be expanded with practice. Start small with an experience you don’t like. Take ownership of it and list all the potential meanings that a variety of people could possibly assign to that event or experience. Notice your patterns of interpretation. What other meanings would you prefer to assign to this experience?
Become the creator of your life.