A human can exercise free will. Even though forces mold choices a person is free to choose and is held responsible for their choices. When a person centers his/her will on only their own interests then the person is exercising self will.
This, of course, relates to the concept of selfishness. But even if no other person is hurt by the choices you make the spiritual concept is that self will is still destructive to the inner life. The reason for this is that a person who wants to follow Jesus will have to subject self will to God’s will. If you run your own life you will be destroyed by sin and Satan; if you subject your will to God’s will you will be saved from destruction.
When a person starts to hear from God, then that person must learn to surrender self will.
This surrender to God’s will in the goal of the both monastic and serious Protestant practices. When we learn to follow Jesus and obey what He wants we grow in grace and Christ is formed within us.
The early stages of removing self will usually revolve around moral issues. The later stages of removing self will revolve around identity and calling: Who am I? Why am I on earth? What does God want from me?
Dedication, submission to authority, living in community and marriage are all used by God in removing our self will. Prayer, study and service all also help in this process. Contemplative prayer can be especially useful in surrendering the will to God.