The Alfred Langley , famous Austrian psychotherapist, professor, co-founder of existential analysis, delivered a lecture in Moscow, “Why did not I do what I want? Decision method of strengthening the will. ” Internet publication Matrony.ru publishes the full text of the lecture.

The Alfred Langley: Why did not I do what I want?The theme will – this is the theme that we are doing on a daily basis. We did not move away from this topic. Every person who is present here, is here because he wants to be here. Nobody came here involuntarily. And no matter what we did during the day, it is connected with our will. Whether we eat, whether we lie down to sleep, we are conducting some sort of conversation, decide whether any conflict, we do so only if we have decided in favor of this and we have the will to do so.

Maybe we do not even realize this fact, because we do not talk so much, “I want”, and clothe it in such expressions: “I would like”, “I would have done.” Because the phrase “I want to” broadcast something very important. And will – it’s really strength. If I do not want nothing to be done. No one has power over me to change my will – just myself. In most cases we do not even realize, but intuitively we have a sense that is meant here is the will. Therefore, we are talking more softly, “I would,” “I wish” or simply “I will go there.” “I’m going to report this” – this is the solution. To complete this idea, which was a
kind of introduction, I will say: we often do not even realize that at any moment something we want.

I would like to divide its report into three parts: the first part will describe the phenomenon, in the second part will talk about the structure, and the third part briefly mention a method of strengthening the will.


Will there every day in our lives. Who is the man who wants to? It’s me. But I will dispose. Will – it is something completely my own. I identify themselves with the will. If I want something, then I know that it’s me. Will is a human autonomy.

Autonomy means that I set for myself the law. And thanks to the will in our possession is itself determinateness, through the will I determine what I will do in the next step. And this is the will describes the task. Will – a person’s ability to give himself the task. For example, right now I want to continue to talk.

Thanks to the will I loose my inner strength for some action. I invest some power and give this time. That is to say, the will – to make this request for some action that I give to myself. Strictly speaking, that’s all. I give myself a mission to do something. And as I want it, then I experience ourselves as free. If any order I give my father or a professor, it is the task of a different kind. Then I am no longer free, if you follow this. If only I did not join their instructions to his will and say, ‘Yes, I’ll do it. ”

In our life, it will perform absolutely pragmatic function – that we have come to take action. Will – a bridge between the command center and act in me. And it is tied to the I – because I only have my will. Bring this will set in motion – a task motivation. That is, will very closely linked to motivation.

Motivation basically means nothing else but the will to bring in traffic. I can motivate your child to do their homework. If I say to him, what is important, or promise him a chocolate. Motivate – this means to bring a person to ensure that he had something he wanted to do. Employee, friend, colleague, child – or yourself. How can I motivate myself, for example, to prepare for the exam? In principle, the same means, what I motivate the child. I can think of why this is important. And I can promise yourself a reward of chocolate.

Let us summarize. Firstly, we have seen that the will – this job to do something, which a man gives himself. Secondly, the author of the will – is myself. There is only one of my personal will, in me. “Wants” by none other than me. Thirdly, this will is in the center of motivation. Motivate means will result in the movement.

And it puts the person before the finding of solutions. We have some assumption, and we are faced with the question: “Do I want or not?”. I have to make a decision – because I have freedom. Will – this is my freedom. If I have something I want, when I’m free, I decide I myself I fix something. If I want something himself, no one is forcing me, I do not have to.

This is the other pole of will – no freedom, forced. Being forced by kakoy-to greater power – the state, the police, professors, parents, partner, who will punish me if something happens, or because it can have negative consequences if I do not do chto-to he wants another. Also, I may force psychopathology or mental disorders. This is precisely the characteristic of mental illness: we can not do what we want. Because I have too much fear. Because I’m depressed, and I have no strength. Because I’m in a relationship. And then again and again I’m going to do what I want to do. Mental disorders are associated with an inability to follow his will. I want to get up, do some work, but I have no desire, I feel so bad I’m so depressed. I’m having a remorse that I did not get up again. Thus, the depressed person can not follow what he thinks is right. Or anxious person can not go to the exam, but he wants.

As we will find a solution and implement our freedom. This means that if I want something, and this is a real will, then I have at the same time there is a special feeling – I feel free. I feel that I do not force, and it corresponds to me. It’s me again, which itself implements. That is, if I want something, I am not a machine, a robot.

Will – is the realization of human freedom. And this freedom is so deep and so personal, that we can not it give to someone. We can not cease to be free. We need to be free. This is a paradox. This is indicated by the existential philosophy. We are free to some degree. However, we are not free to choose not. We should want. We have to make decisions. We have all the time to do something.

If I’m watching TV, I’m tired and go to sleep, I have to decide whether to continue the sitting, because I was tired (it is also a solution). And if I can not make a decision, it is also a solution (I say that now I can not decide, and no action was taken). That is, we constantly make decisions, we always have the will. We are always free, because we can not cease to be free, like Sartre formulated it.

And since this freedom is located in deep water, in the depths of our being, the will is very strong. Where there is a will, there’s a way. If I really want, I’ll find a way. People sometimes say: I do not know how to do something. Then these people have a weak will. They do not want to really. If you really want something, you will pass thousands of kilometers away and become the founder of the university in Moscow, Lomonosov. If I really do not want, no one can force my will. My will – it is absolutely a private matter.

I remember a depressive patient, who suffered from their relationship. She always had to do something that made her do her husband. For example, the husband said: “Today I will go in your car, because in my gasoline has ended.” Then she was forced to go to a gas station and because of this, late for work. Such situations are repeated again and again. There were many such examples.

I asked her: “Why not say ‘no’?”. She said: “Because of the relationship. I ask further:

– But because of this relationship does not improve? You want to give him the keys?

– Me not. But he wants.

Okay, he wants. And what do you want?

In therapy, counseling is a very important step is to see what is my own will.

We talked about it, and she said:

– Actually, I do not want to give him the keys, I’m not a servant for him.

And now there is a revolution in the relationship.

– But, – she says, – I have no chance, because if I did not give him the keys, he will come and take them.

– But you can take this to the keys in your hands?

– But then he would take the keys out of my hands!

– But if you do not want, you can keep them firmly in hand.

– Then he would use force.

– Maybe so, he is stronger. But this does not mean that you want to hand over the keys. He can not change your will. It can only make you do. Of course, it could worsen the situation in a way that you say, I’ve had enough. All this is causing so much pain that I no longer want to hold on to their will. It would be better if I gave him the keys.

– This means that it will be enforced!

– Yes, he forced you. But will you change yourself.

It is important that we are aware of it: that will belong only to me and I can change it just me, nobody else. Because the will – is freedom. And we, the people, there are three forms of freedom, and they all play a role in connection with the will.

English philosopher David Hume wrote that we have freedom of action (for example, the freedom to come here or to come home, it is freedom, pointing outwards).

There is another freedom that is above the external forces – is the freedom of choice, freedom of decision. I define what I want and why I want it. Since this has value for me, because it corresponds to me, and probably, my conscience tells me that it is right – then I make a decision in favor of something, for example, come here. This is preceded by the freedom of decision. I learned what will be the topic, I thought it would be interesting, and I have a certain amount of time, and of the many opportunities to spend time I choose one. I hesitate, I give myself a job and realizing freedom of choice in the freedom of action, coming here.

The third freedom – the freedom of the spirit, it is an intimate freedom. This sense of inner harmony. Decisions to say “yes.” This “yes” – where it goes? It is no longer something rational, it is of some depth in me. This decision is connected with the freedom of the spirit, so strong that it can take on the character of obligation.

When Martin Luther was accused of the publication of his thesis, he said: “At the stand and can not do otherwise.” Of course, he could somehow – he was a smart man. But this would be to such an extent contrary to his nature, he would have the feeling that it will not he, if he will deny it, from this refuse. These internal attitudes and beliefs are expressions of deep human freedom. And in the form of internal consensus contained in any will.

The issue will be difficult. We talked about the fact that the will – this is freedom, and this freedom is power. But at the same time it will sometimes seems compelling. Luther can not be different. And the solution also has a compulsion freedom: I must make a decision. I can not dance at two weddings. I can not be both here and at home. That is, I was forced to freedom. Maybe, for tonight it is not such a big problem. But that will have to do if I love two women at the same time (or two men) and, moreover, equally strong? I have to make a decision. For a while, I can keep it a secret, hiding it, that there was no need to make a decision, but such decisions can be very difficult. What decision should I take if those and other relationships are very valuable? From this, you can get sick, it may break the heart. This meal choice.

We are all familiar with this in a more simple situations: if I have fish or meat? But it is not so tragic. Today I can eat fish and meat tomorrow. But there is a situation unique in its kind.

That is freedom, and will also relate coercion, obligation – even freedom of action. If I want to come here today, then I have to fulfill all the conditions, so I could come here: to go by metro or by car, to go on foot. I must do something to come from point A to point B. In order to implement the will, I have to comply with these conditions. And where is the freedom? This is a typical human freedom: I have something to do, and I compress “corset” conditions.

But maybe we should give a definition of what is “will”? Will – this decision. Namely – the decision to go to any value you choose. I choose between different values of the evening and pick one thing and implementing it, taking a decision. I dare say, and this is my last “yes”. I say “yes” to this value.

You can even shorter will formulate a definition. Will – this is my inner “yes” with respect to some values. I want to read a book. The book is valuable to me, because it’s a good novel or a textbook that I need to prepare for the exam. I say “yes” to this book. Or a meeting with a friend. I see this as some kind of value. If I say “yes”, then I also willing to make some effort to see it. I’m going to him.

With this “yes” on the value of any related investment, some contributions, willingness to pay for it, to do something, to become active. If I want, then I’ll go in this direction. This is a far cry from the simple desire. It is important to make a distinction here. Desire – this is also valuable. I wish a lot of happiness, health, meet a friend, but do not wish to contain a willingness to something to do – because the desire I remain passive, I expect that it will come. I wish my friend called me, and I wait. In many things I just have to wait – I can not do anything. I wish you a speedy recovery, or yourself. Already done that could be done, there remains only the healing value. I say to myself and others that see it as a valuable and I hope that this will happen. But it is not the will, because the will – it is to give yourself a commission of some action.

For the will is always a good reason. I had a good reason to come here. And what is the basis or reason to come here? This is exactly the value. Because I see it as something good and valuable. And it is for me a reason, consent to go for it, maybe risk. Maybe you find that it is very boring report, and then I wasted on this evening. To do something with the will always involves some risk. Therefore, it will include an existential act, because I’m going to risk.

With regard to the will of two points misunderstandings are common. Will often confused with logic, rational – in the sense that I want only what is reasonable. For example: four years of training to learn reasonably fifth year and to finish his studies. You can not choose to stop after four years training! It’s so irrational, so stupid. May be. But the will is not something logical, pragmatic. Will comes from the mysterious depths. We will have much more freedom than in the beginning of the rational.

And the second point of misunderstanding: it may seem that you can set in motion will, if you give yourself a job – want. But whence comes my way? She comes from my “want”. I can not “want to want”. I also can not want to believe, I do not want to love, I do not want to hope. And why? Because the will is a request to do something. But faith or love – it’s not action. I do not do it. This is something that arises in me. I have nothing to do with it, if I like. We do not even know on what ground the love falls. We can not control it, we can not be a “do it” – so we are not to blame if we like or do not like.

In case something similar will occur. What I want to grow somewhere in me. This is not something where I can give yourself instructions. It grows out of me, out of the depths. The greater the will is connected with this great depth, the more I worried about his will as something that corresponds to me, the more I am free. And with the will of associated responsibility. If the will resonates with me, while I live, being responsible. It was only then that I really free. The German philosopher and writer Matthias Claudius once said: “Man is free if he can want what he has.”

If so, then the will due to “leave”. I have to leave my feelings freely – so that I could feel, that grows in me. Leo Tolstoy once said: “Happiness lies not in the fact that you could do what you want …”. But freedom means that I can do what I want? This is true. I can follow his will, and then I’m free. But Tolstoy speaks of happiness, rather than the will: “… but happiness is to always want what you do.” In other words, that you have always had an internal agreement with respect to what you’re doing. That describes Tolstoy – is existential will. How happy I worry about what I do, if I experience this internal response, internal resonance, if I say this “yes”. And internal agreement, I can not “do” – I can only listen to themselves.


What structure at will? Wanting I can only what I can do. Needless to say: I want to remove this wall and go through the ceiling. Because the will – this request for action, and it assumes that I also can do it. That is, the will is realistic. It is the first structure of the will .

If we are serious about this belongs to, then we should not want more than we can – or we will no longer be realistic. If I can not work anymore, I do not demand it of ourselves. Free will is also able to leave, to let go.

And this is the reason why I do what I want. Because I have no power, no ability because I have no money, because I came up against the wall, because I do not know how to do it. Will suggests a realistic view of what is available on the givens. Therefore, I sometimes do not do what I want.

Also, something I do not do for the reason that I feel the fear – then I save I remove it. Because I can be hurt, and I’m afraid of this. It will – is the risk.

If this first structure is not fulfilled, if I really can not, if I have no knowledge if I feel fear, it prevents me.

The second structure will . Will – a “yes” on the value. This means that I must also see the value. I need something that will bring me also. I want to experience good feelings, otherwise I do not want to. I should like the way, otherwise the goal will be far from me.

For example, I want to lose weight by 5 kg. And I decided to start. At 5 kilograms less – this is a good value. But I also have feelings about the path that leads there: I should also like to today I ate less and exercise. If I do not like it, I said to this end will not come. If such a feeling I will not, then I will again do what I want. Because it will not consist solely and only from the mind.

That is a result of the same value, to which I will go into, I should be well and feel. And, of course, than the depressed person, the less he can do what he wants. And here again we find ourselves in the sphere of mental disorders. The first dimension is the will of fear, various phobias. They interfere with a person to follow his will.

The third dimension of faith : that is what I want, in line with my own. For I have seen that it is also important to me that it fits me personally.

Suppose a person smokes. He thinks: if I smoke, I’m something of themselves represent. I am 17 years old and I’m an adult. For a person at this stage it is really what it corresponds to. He wants to smoke, he needs it. And when a person becomes more mature, the cigarette for self-assertion may be, it is no longer needed.

That is, if I myself with something I identify, then I also want. But if something is not personally important to me, then I say yes, I’ll do it, but do not actually make or do with the delay. The way we do something, we can determine what is important to us . This diagnosis of the structures that underlie the will. If I do not identify myself, or if I get around the fact that I find important, I will not again do those things that are, strictly speaking, I would like to do.

And the fourth dimension will – it will switch to the larger context of a larger system the relationship: what I do, is to have meaning. Otherwise, I can not do it. If there is no larger context. If this does not lead to something such where I can see and feel that it is valuable. Then again I do not do it.

For this “want” Need 4 structures: 1) if I can, 2) if I like it, 3) if I have this corresponds to and is important to me, if I am entitled to do so, if it is allowed, permitted, 4) if I have the feeling that I must do it, because it is born of something good. Then I can do it. Then it will well rooted, grounded, and it is strong. Because it is linked with reality, because this value is important for me because I can discover in it, because I see that this may turn out something good.

With the will relate different problems. Practical problems with the will we have if we really want something. If we in our “want” is not completely clear in the aspect of one or more of the structures – then we are faced with a dilemma, if I want to, and still do not want to.

I would like to mention here two concepts. We all know such a thing as a temptation. Temptation means that the focus of my will change and moves in the direction of something that I actually was not supposed to be doing. For example, today show some good film, and I need to learn the material – and here, this temptation. On the table is a delicious chocolate, but I want to lose weight – again tempted. Consistent direction of my will deviate from the course.

It is familiar to everyone and this is absolutely normal thing. Here include other attractive values, which are also important. At a certain intensity of temptation turns into a seduction. The temptation is still there is a will, and when there is a temptation, then I start to act. These two things are becoming stronger. the more the need grows in me. If my desire to live too little fed if I experience a little good, then the temptations and temptations become stronger. Because we need the joy of life, joy in life must be present. We must not only work, we also need to experience the pleasure. If this is not enough, the easier it is to seduce me.


And in conclusion, I would like to provide a method by which we can strengthen the will. For example, in any case we need to do your homework. And we say: I’ll do it tomorrow – today, not yet. The next day, nothing happens, something happens, and we defer.

What can I do? We can actually strengthen the will. If I have any problem, and I can not begin to act, then I can sit down and ask yourself what kind of value I say “yes”? What is it okay if I write this work? What are the benefits associated with it? I have to clearly see what is good. In general, these values are known, at least know their head.

And here is the second step – a risky, namely: I’m starting to ask myself, “and what are the advantages, if I do not?”. What I buy, if you do not write this to work? Then I would not have this problem in my life would be more fun. And it may be that I find so valuable that will happen to me if I do not write this work, I really will not write it.

As a doctor, I worked with patients who want to quit smoking. To each of them I have asked this question. The answer was: “Do you want me to demotivate? ! When you ask me what I win, if I did not quit smoking, I have so many ideas, “I said,” Yes, this is the reason why we are sitting here. ” And there were patients who, after this second step, said: “I was clear, I will continue to smoke.” Does this mean I’m a bad doctor? I’m moving in the direction of the patient, so that they had quit smoking, and I have to motivate them, so they threw – and I move them in the opposite direction. But this is a small matter, if a person says, “I will continue to smoke,” what if he will contemplate three weeks, and then everything will still continue to smoke. Because they have no strength to throw. If the values that it implements through smoking, appealing to him, he can not quit.

That is the reality. It will not be for the reason. Value needs to feel, otherwise it will not work.

And then the third step should be – and is the heart of this method. Suppose someone decides on the second step: Yes, it will be more valuable if I’m going to write this work. Then the question is, to enhance the value of what you do, make it your own. We as therapists might ask you once experienced this – to write something? Perhaps this man had once written something and experienced a feeling of joy? It is possible to give an example and ask: what if this was a good thing? In my practice there were many examples of this situation. Many people have told me about writing a negative side: “It feels like my back is Professor, look what I write and say,” Oh, my God! “.” And then people are demotivated. Then it is necessary to separate the book from professors and write for myself.

That is the core – this is the value in question. It is necessary to feel it, as if to make an inward and correlate with previous experience. And look for the value in a particular mode of action.

And the fourth step is and for what it is, strictly speaking, right? What makes sense? Why do I do this? What I am learning? And the specific situation goes into a larger context, a broader horizon. Then I can gain experience of their own motivation – or do not worry.

I had a friend who, after a long work on the dissertation, suddenly noticed that it makes no sense to write this thesis. He was a teacher, and it turned out that there was no interest in pedagogy, he did not feel – just wanted to get the academic title. But why sacrifice so much time in order that it does not make sense? So he unknowingly blocked internally work on his thesis. His feelings were smarter than his mind.

What is there to take practical steps? You can not expect from you that you just can quickly write all. But you can start with a single paragraph. You can take something from some book. That is, we see that we can shape your life. We see, then it is important to take their lives into their own hands. The problems connected with the will, we too can do something. Specifically, look at the structure of will. Because if the structures are not met, then the will not work. We can also in respect of the task to ask ourselves open-ended question: What speaks against it? Should I really do this? or should free themselves, leave this task? It is in the context of the “left” may be present “want.” Until I make myself, I will cause a paradoxical reaction.

Man is so clear, that we want it to ourselves to remain free. Thank you very much for your attention.

Prepared by Anastasia Hramuticheva