Whatever I learned,
Whatever I knew,
Seems like those faded years of childhood that flew,
Away in some dilemma,
Always in some confusion,
The purpose of this life,
Seems like an illusion!

― Mehek Bassi, Chained: Can you escape fate?

I was in a dilemma whether to write something today or not. Then that itself became a topic. I am a person of contradictions. I want to be both at the same time – an introvert, soaked in stoic silence, and an extrovert, cheerleading people to a happier life. I can do both, but eventually, I gave up. So, introverted I became.  There is no respite from these indecisive situations; they keep coming at me all the time.

Dilemma, my friends, is my way of life. But this eventually puts me into a shell. I come out of it slowly, like a cautious capybara coming out of its burrow slowly. I take one step and look around. That is me, taking up one thing that my mind sets upon. There are a few things that I have to do. My mind makes up a list, and then something that must be done – the toughest one. I break it down into pieces. Small enough pieces that can be still called action.

I don’t bother about what is next around the corner.  I just do enough to get that corner. We know that no task is ever a straight line, but it has turns, and every turn has corners. So I always get to the corner. The corner gives me the visibility to the next corner. The ‘getting to the next corner’ works. My dilemma goes away by then.  This is how I have always overcome irrational fear caused by the dilemma.

You can keep pondering on which thing to do first or which path to take or by simply taking action now of most any kind, you may just find yourself on the way to where you most needed to go.

― April Bryan

The bottom line is to move an inch. But for some of us, it is easier said than done. There is a mental block, or develop limbs made of lead. Call it inertia. But some of it could be attributed to the inherent laziness of the mind – for an easier solution is not doing anything then and there, but just postponing to another time. When we try to kick the can down the road, we fall into the trap of procrastination.

Procrastination or rescheduling is not altogether wrong. Sometimes, you have to be in a better state of mind or in a better place to think and decide. There is never a right-only choice – others will tell you there is a ‘you should’ (when they advise you now) and a ‘you should have’ (when they point out later).  Others’ opinions are only inputs, and finally, the decision, is, always, and will be yours.

The Head and the Heart:

A big challenge that I have is when there is a struggle between our heads and the heart.

The head is supposed to be the balanced and sane component of our decision-making. There is a method and structure to our thoughts that lead to our decisions. It looks at things rationally, assimilates and weighs facts, and then comes to a conclusion.

The heart is emotional, and it brings the emotional element into play. It makes it blind to reality and precipitates bias and therefore is subjective.  The decision is never based on logic, but a set of feelings – like feeling good or high, or just feeling right at that moment.

One ought to hold on to one’s heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

It is always said that the head is the best when it comes to deciding in groups. But when it comes to a personal decision, the heart wins.  When a person decides with their heart, they often bring passion behind it and the love lasts longer. When a head gets involved in the decision-making, the post-decision ownership is that of a stoic observer. That is why people let their hearts lead, and their heads follow.

I have always been a person led by heart. My head has a certain role to play, but the decision-maker is my heart.  So when I say I think through, it is just postponing the decision to let my heart justify it to my head.

An easy of looking at this is to consider the heart and the head as a couple. The heart would have made its decision before the head gets into it. Let things be. You will realize that after a while, your decision is automatically made. Either your heart would have convinced your head, and your head would be backing that up by its logic, or the heart would have given up, and then the head would lead.  Let the heart lead first, then the head take over. This is the best way to resolve any dilemma.

If any part of your uncertainty is a conflict between your heart and your mind—follow your mind.

— Ayn Rand

The uncertainty comes only when the heart does not know how to set the boundary or conclude. The mind will eventually take over, for the heart will be tired of running itself out.

The Gut Instinct:

While the heart is the seat of emotions, the gut is the seat of intuitions. A gut is never blind, but it is the innate compass in us.  They always say the gut never goes wrong and advise us to follow our gut instincts.

The gut, that second brain: closer to the heart, which must mean closer to the soul, too.

― A.D. Aliwat, In Limbo

The gut is closer to the heart than the brain. That is true. The gut does not analyze either, but it does not act like the heart, which is the diva of the decision-triad. The gut is silent, it is the animal component in us. It is the ancestral wisdom embedded in us, which can never speak but yet guide us through a set of signals.

Many life-changing decisions are momentarily made, where neither the heart nor the heart have gotten into the act, but the moment has arrived and a decision has to be taken. The only thing that works then is the gut, with its all-purpose wisdom stored through years of evolution.

Your gut shows the path in flight-or-fight situations much like animals and creatures have been doing all their life in the wild. The gut is the go-to decision source for animals, for they don’t have an evolved mind or heart.  But the gut still works for us, and therefore, it is important to listen to the gut. So it pays to listen.

In the rough and tumble of our lives, the noise that surrounds us drowns the signals from our decision-making organs. Listening becomes difficult. Hence, creating an ambiance of silence is key for listening to our gut, heart, and head.

Silence works:

Silence is when everything else, but our heartbeats and the silence of the gut.

When words become unclear, I shall focus on photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.

― Ansel Adams

When all senses abdicate, it is the silence that remains. Silence brings to the core of our being – and we have unfiltered access to ourselves, less the outside noise emanating through our sensory organs. Silence enables us to listen to our inner voice. It rebels first, for it was never unchained because we were distracted by the chaos of the senses. Now that our attention is undivided, it becomes easier for us to watch and listen to the images and words formed in our mind, and let them slowly get organized by themselves.

The emotions and the primal instincts calm down, and the confluence of reason and instinct will happen in a quiet atmosphere. This is the best ambiance for decision-making.


The dilemma is the struggle to make decisions. It makes sense to therefore give the head, gut, and heart a chance to come together in a quiet ambiance, thereby giving ourselves the best possible outcome.

So far nothing in your life has interfered with your reasoning process.

― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

The reasoning process is not that of the head, but of the soul – which seeks peace. At no point does it want to be disturbed, so it acts as an observer of the decision-makers – the head, the heart, and the gut.

The reasoning process, therefore is that of the soul – which enables us to seek silence, perhaps through meditation to keep our sanity while handling the everyday dilemma.


Ashok Subramanian
Ashok Subramanian
Ashok Subramanian is a Poet and Fiction Author based in Chennai, India. Ashok has been writing blogs and content since 2011. From technology and management articles, and to website content, Ashok has written articles on businesses, finance, funding, capital markets, management, strategy, and sustainability over the years. His poems and articles, which were published in blogs got a publishing turn when he had time in hand to put together his poetry and short story collections. He publishes short stories and poetry reviews regularly in his blog. His published works so far: a) Maritime Heritage of India - Contributing Writer - b) Poetarrati Volume 1 &2: Self-published on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback; Ranked #8 in Amazon Hot Releases in May 2020. c) A City Full of Stories: A Short fiction Collection based on people and events of Mumbai: Self-published in Amazon in Kindle and Paperback. d) Poetarrati Ponder 2020 - A collection of Poem Reviews He is currently working with his creative advisor and publisher on his next poetry collection. His second short story collection about Kolkata, India, and his first novel are in the manuscript stage. He is a graduate in Engineering from Madurai Kamaraj University, India, and a post-graduate in Management from IIM Calcutta, India. He currently runs Strategic Advisory and Investment Banking companies headquartered in Bengaluru. He lives with his wife Gayathri and son Anirudh in Chennai, India.

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