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January 11, 2012
The Feeling of Being in Total Control While Making a Decision is an Illusion


From the moment we begin the day right until we retire, we are constantly faced with the formidable task of making choices. The choice we make is sometimes influenced by instant gratification; at other times by a sense of responsibility but quite often it's nothing more than mere adherence to a routine.

Decision-making is not made any easier by the mind that tends to vacillate ever so often. In fact, it could compound the problem. The mind is like a naughty child within that quite often pushes us to the cookie jar to dip in just this one more time. It conjures all sorts of brilliant rationalist reasons and justifications for that moment's indulgence.

There is also a devilish streak in us that unforgivingly assaults the conscience with strictures that tend to dwarf your self-esteem. Life inevitably becomes a see-saw that alternates between hedonism and virtue, pleasure and pain and between self-castigation and achievement.

Most of the decisions that we make are fraught with short-term implications. And the stakes are not very high as well. An indulgence like eating more cookies may at the most add a few kilos or harden the arteries a bit. It might just advance the occurrence of what is inevitable. Perhaps those extra kilos could pass off as testimony to a life well lived, in one sense.

There are times when we are faced with crunch situations. And the decisions we make could alter the course of not just our lives but also impact the lives of others. As the stakes rise, so does the hesitation. The head and the heart seem to wrestle each other for supremacy. The left brain keeps a strict debit and credit account of every alternative. The right brain pops up with very intuitive suggestions. The ego cautions one about what "the others" will say. The maverick within recommends what seems absurd. Amidst the cacophony, the voice of the soul could get hushed and so remain unheard or unheeded. Repeated attempts to evoke audibility above all the din makes it barely discernible.

The voice of the soul or the inner voice needs amplification. It is a high-fidelity (hi-fi) source that metes out an optimised option. Fidel to our true nature and personalities. The voice within is the voice that helps you blend reality with dreams. It harmonises the internal and the external. It is a holistic mix of practicality and possibility. It often gets discounted by seemingly wiser considerations, but isn't wisdom always in retrospect? The rest is speculation.

The feeling of being in total control while making a decision is an illusion. This is because our decisions are based largely on circumstances. The circumstances are usually beyond our control, howsoever powerful one might be.

A decision is essentially a way out of the maze of circumstances. This maze is a construct that is unique in every situation. We certainly cannot design the maze as per our choice. The impact of the situational maze restricts our decision-making to a very narrow bandwidth of exercising our choice. Free will is restricted to an excursion on this turf restricted by the circumstances. Priding ourselves about our achievements very often is a trespass by our ego of the uncontrolled domain. It might make for a fabulous recipe, but the credit in all probability is not due to the individual or his mind but because of a string of factors and circumstances.



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