Assuming Responsibility for Conscious Choice and Evaluation

“Another trend which is evident in this process of becoming a person relates to the source or locus of choices and decisions, or evaluative judgments. The individual increasingly comes to feel that his locus of evaluation lies within himself. Less and less does he look to others for approval or disapproval; for standards to live by; for decisions and choices. He recognizes that it rests within himself to choose…”

~ Carl Rogers (1902-1987),
American psychologist,
in On Becoming a Person


Many are the ways by which we give to others the locus (Latin: place) of evaluation. For example, sometimes as adults we live as extensions of our parents, unconsciously living the values, attitudes, and beliefs which they modeled during our upbringing. Your dad was a Republican; your mom a Catholic; and for years as an adult you have taken your place in the world as a Republican and a Catholic, although you have never sat down with yourself to personally evaluate your viewpoints.

Often we live the lives which our partners and friends expect of us. Perhaps you and your partner have different values, but you share the belief that being coupled means having to be in agreement on almost everything. So you go along with your partner’s choices, although some of them just don’t feel right to you. With such a belief, how can either of you realize your individuality within your togetherness?

Persons who assume the mantle of a spiritual path or philosophy often never question its assertions or practices. You affirm this or that truth citing the authority of a teacher or a book, not the authority of your own unfolding experience or the authority of your inexperience. You do not take personal responsibility for what you do know and what you do not know (equally important!).

The pressure of social norms oppresses many of us. Perhaps you are unemployed, and you feel worth less as a person, because unconsciously you have adopted the norm whereby society generally evaluates a person’s worth based upon his/her economic function: no job – no worth. Yet your being a billionaire or street person could neither add to nor detract from the innate value of your humanity, your True Nature.

Whether or not we share the values, choices, and decisions of others isn’t the issue. Any position you might take could be authentic or inauthentic. It is not what you value or choose that matters with regard to authenticity, but how you value and decide.

If we unquestioningly accept from others their values, choices, and decisions, then the locus of evaluation is external to us. We forfeit our agency, our capacity to act, with regard to evaluation and choice. The life that is being expressed belongs to others. We have cloaked the unfolding of authentic presence as it is expresses through personal evaluation and conscious choice.

As Being in human expression (human being), we are privileged to consciously participate and create within dimensions of significance and action called values and choice. Animals, plants, and matter are not so privileged. It is the valuing and the choosing which is the prize, and not the value, not the choice.

Now and then life will call upon us to evaluate, to choose, to decide. In the immediacy of those moments, our authentic presence further reveals itself through the creative act of personal evaluation and conscious choice. When we assume personal responsibility for our participation in domains of value and choice by consciously evaluating and consciously choosing our living, then the locus of evaluation is internalized. We have become more fully human, more authentic.

The values, choices, decisions which you are living – were they personally evaluated by you, or simply adopted from others?

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