I want you to try a couple of exercises to determine who you are. Write down your most precious positions that you take on subjects that are important to you.
Now, ask yourself why you take that position. When you realize that you 'take a stand' on a subject, it is because someone influenced you to take that POV, try to ask THEM why they feel that way.
oneblood says, "I kind of treated the will to choose like it was a lark, a given, natural, like there was no system in place to maintain the pre-existing construct."
I think that most people treat the 'will to choose' exactly like that, something that is just 'there' and not part of their training, the sum of all the influences of their upbringing.
I think that this is odd if you have ever dealt with children because as a guardian you automatically try to steer the young ones away from bad influences, and there ARE bad influences, it must be admitted.
I don't think that there are trivial choices inasmuchas one has to choose based on experience. What I mean is that you have to recognise that a choice IS trivial THEN go ahead and pick 'the one on the right' or whatever.
I think that this 'choosing', which we feel is automatic, is ripe for manipulation by influencers.
e.g. I'm trying to influence you right now! You have 'on the fly' choices to make. Your mind is busy 'doing what it does'.
Your mind is doing what it does based on your experiences, your influences right up to this moment, but it is evolving. I'm not saying that you are necessarilly progressing in any way, perhaps you are just a tiny bit surer of what you have always thought.
" Long-term memories, .. are maintained by...stable and permanent changes in neural connections widely spread throughout the brain.
These memories are generally about what someone said or wrote, how they said it or wrote it and how we felt about it at the time.
Come on, 'fess up to yourself here! When you were a kid, who were the important influences in your life? Did they bribe you to agree with them or did they cow you into 'going along' with them? Probably a mixture, right? Did they sandbag you, promising things that they had no intention of delivering? Did they gaslight you, persuading you that their POV had to be the only sane one, otherwise the world, your world would become a madhouse!(They would MAKE your world a madhouse, punishing you for not knowing things that you have no experience of, for example, or playing drill sergeant, "Everything you do and say is wrong!(until you can automatically repeat my POV, then you're cool!)
Child abuse or discipline. It's an invisible line, isn't it.
Point is, when do we get handed this miraculous 'free-will'? When can we say, "Well, I certainly believe that of my own free choice!"?