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Tuesday, January 26, 2021 12:02:26 PM
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A reconciled mind is a beautiful thing

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14th-Jan-2021       
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Tim Carey :
What comes to mind as you consider these words? Can you think of certain times in your life when one or more of these words could have been appropriately applied to you? Perhaps there are particular areas or topics for which these words are especially apt.
The words above are some of the characteristics or features of a reconciled mind. They are descriptors of a mind that is unequivocal and resolute about its priorities and prizes. All minds experience a reconciled state. For some minds it is a brief respite in a sea of distress and despair. For other minds it is the standard order of the day.
What is there to be reconciled about? Almost everything! Each day we encounter a staggering array of choices. Will I fry or poach my eggs? Will I visit my family or save my money? Will I start the day mapping out the project or proof-reading the report? Will I walk to the market or pay the bus fare? Crucially, while the environments we live in can present us with the raw materials from which choices sprout, only in our mind is the choice configuration created.
It is part of our endowment that we want many things. Billions of neurons with trillions of connections make for an astonishingly vast and diverse menagerie of preferences, desires, opinions, beliefs, set-points, and standards. It is also part of the legacy of our design that we can be reconciled about some things while simultaneously raging a mind-splitting war in other areas.
Given the breathtaking scope of this landscape, it is perhaps inevitable that, from time to time, wants collide. A choice is nothing more than the simultaneous contemplation of two or more incompatible wants. Pursuing one necessitates abandoning the other. Do I order Indian or Ethiopian take-out tonight? Do I give the last of our daily rations to my oldest or youngest child?
Some choices are trivial while others are monumental. Regardless of their relative importance, the structure and the implications are universal. Holding one means letting go of the other. Since we are bombarded with a ceaseless parade of choices, it is clear that, for the most part, we are absurdly skilled at reconciling antagonistic options. Occasionally, however, that is not the case.
An inability to reconcile incompatible options is at the core of all enduring psychological torment. Whether the mental unease is relatively minor or devastatingly disruptive, the hallmark of a festering irreconciliation is constant. Will I buy the fillet steak or the pork loin? Will I end my life tonight or keep searching for an answer?
Different people can be in the same place at the same time when the same horrendous event unfolds, yet the aftershocks can be wildly different. Some people pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and, in their own time and at their own pace, resume the life that was so wickedly and unexpectedly disrupted. Other people can be inspired and transformed and create an entirely new life direction for themselves. There might be some, however, who will be torturously traumatised for many years. Why such different reactions? The ability to somehow reconcile in their own minds the events that were experienced will be decisive.
People who are unable to live the lives they wish for themselves because of psychological calamity and anguish are not sick or broken or ill. They are experiencing one or more episodes of irreconciliation within the recesses of their mind.  
While nature might abhor a vacuum, a controlling mind detests an irreconciled state. Whenever and wherever a skirmish arises in the cosmos of your mind, your attention will be pulled to it. Just as a compass needle remains stubbornly pointing North, the escalating scuffle within will be a powerful Siren's song.
In some ways, the inability of irreconciliation to remain undetected for very long, is a good thing. Once it is exposed it can be addressed. If a pervasive atmosphere of reconciliation is the ultimate goal, then it is important to isolate and home in on the irreconcilable epicentre. While other features might scream for your assistance, an uncompromising solution will emerge by pulling the irreconciliation plug. It is not the vile voice you're hearing that needs usurping. It is the irreconcilability between what you want to do, and what the voice is demanding you do that must be investigated, explored, understood, and reorganized. Reconcile what is currently irreconcilable and the venom in the voice will vanish.
A reconciled mind is capable of staggering accomplishments. Perhaps the enduring satisfaction that swells from the creation of close, committed relationships and the ongoing productive and pleasing contribution to a social community is the greatest achievement of all.
Minds that have been engineered to control are organised to create and maintain a reconciled state. Paradoxically, because of their architecture, and their positioning within an unpredictably changing environment, periods of irreconcilability are inevitable. The swiftness with which a brewing maelstrom of irreconciliation can be detected, addressed, and dissolved is the key to fulfilling and gratifying daily social living.

(Tim Carey, Ph.D., is Director of the Institute for Global Health Research and Andrew Weiss Chair in Research on Global Health at the University of Global Health
Equity in Rwanda).

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