Being in double mind is indeed a double trouble!


“Shall I do it or better leave it”, “This would work; no, it may not” or “Shall I frankly say that; but it may annoy her” is a regular struggle, most have in their minds!

One of my former colleagues in USA was a group leader. He was intelligent, technically sound and in very good books of his divisional boss. Some of his peers were difficult and he used to admire his boss for managing them well. In due course of time, boss got promoted and this colleague was recommended to fill the position. He sought time of few days to think over, during which he struggled to decide should he take the challenge or not; would he be able to handle his difficult peers or not. Finally, he decided not to take the offer for fear of failure. Consequently, lot of his sub-ordinates got promoted to higher positions and he got sidelined, making him a frustrated lot!

Above story of double mindedness is common to most people routinely and results in lost opportunities, wrong or no decisions, poor relationships and disturbed minds!

Why double mindedness?

Our mind has current thoughts and past ones stored over a period of time. A popular hypothesis is that there is a conscious mind having current thought/s and past thoughts reside in our subconscious mind. Regardless of mind being in 2 parts or states, it always has a mix of several thoughts. For any given matter, where decision has to be evolved, we are bound to get more than one thought. When we are unable to pick one and proceed, we are in double mind.

Essentially, when we have thoughts in conflicts with one another, we struggle to arrive at a decision. That is the state of double mindedness. On average, humans are in state of double mind for more than 50% of time.

People mistake double mindedness with evaluation of options!

Many perceive that double mindedness is a necessary part of decision making process. They mistake it as part of evaluation of options. That is not true. Double mindedness occurs post evaluation of options and brings mind in a state of flux!

Does it mean single mindedness is good?

Single mindedness can bring very fast decisions and actions; but then it is not based on evaluations of available options. So, it can turn out to be thoughtless, rash or irrational! It may serve good purpose only in very limited activities like running a race of XX meters!

Why double trouble!

Mind may be double; but problems that it breeds are multiple:

  • Lack of initiative
  • Increased inertia
  • Depleted innovativeness
  • Plenty of indecisiveness
  • Fractured focus
  • Poor courage
  • Incoherent thinking
  • Feeble confidence

One or several of above problems get compounded by the fact that a double minded person tends to fall prey to weak or worse option! This brings in even bigger issues.

What makes a decisive mind

We need to be decisive to circumvent difficulties, chalk out strategies, work for success and growth, and inspire others to do that.

The way our mind works, conflict of thoughts (CoT) is inevitable. Don’t think that CoT is bad. What is bad is way we respond to same. CoT creates consciousness and makes us more analytical and wiser, if used correctly!

Here is the secret to turn CoT to your advantage:

  1. When mind has conflicting thoughts, don’t avoid these and just observe the same patiently.
    Don’t get overwhelmed; just observe. Avoid emotions.
  2. Then evaluate options while such thoughts are passing your mind.
  3. You would be automatically driven to select one. Do it and proceed.

So, right sequence is Observe w/o emotions –> Evaluate –> Decide i.e., OED

It is a bane to evaluate and decide without observing. But, it is a blunder to decide straight away! Knowingly or unknowingly, all decisive or deserving people follow this sequence in their minds!

It is not necessary that OED would always lead to right decisions. Probability of your decisions going good would be high. Extremely important is that it would make you decisive and dynamic.

So, if you wish to replace confusion by confidence, dithering by diligence, fragility by agility and setbacks by successes, start practicing “Observe w/o emotions –> Evaluate –> Decide”!


10 responses to “Being in double mind is indeed a double trouble!”

  1. Murli Lohia Avatar
    Murli Lohia

    Subhash Deshpande on February 28, 2014 at 1:28 am said: Edit

    Double Mindedness ! 27-02-2014

    Dear Murlisir

    I liked the article & also the strategy you suggested to overcome.
    Similar concept of DM can be compared with ‘Conflicts’(Used in Psychology) in decision making in life .Why every decision can not be made straight forward without DM ?
    Because many decisions includes + or – dimesions or sides . Some common conflict types I remember in decision making are
    1) Approach Approach conflict ( E g .You liked 2 differnt company car models having almost same specifications & all the good looking qualities & the conflict occurs which one to choose 2)Approach Avoidance conflict : E.g.You want to change the job -1st job is near your home with enough salary expectations & 2 nd job offer is having substantially higher on salary side but work place is out of city ( which has very tiring daily travel)

    3) Avoidance Avoidance conflict : Here again you are changing job : you have 2 offers :1st job is having a lower salary & weaker work culture than the current job -:::2 nd job is having average salary but extensive tiring daily travel time !

    DM many times occurs just because many options are available or above psychological conflicts !
    Once you have clear concepts & self confidant choices about a particular need or decision & also experience about the same or strong analytical mind about the future outcome your Double Mindedness can be reduced !
    Sometimes DM can also occur due to ‘Time bound’ phobia !E g . Some times You are serching a job in a very reputed company but you get offer from a medium one with at least 2 years contract bond with average progressive chances , then you start the confusion whether to loose the current opportunity or to stuck in contract by loosing the right opportunity may come in near future.
    Please kindly evaluate the feedback and kindly suggest for needful corrections.
    Thanx & Regards
    Subhash Deshpande

    1. Murli Avatar

      I am very thankful to you for your feedback!

      3 examples, which you given, are very relevant and double mindedness (DM) is bound to occur. Yes, where there are options, DM in any case would occur. However, it does occur where there is no option but a decision, however simple, has to be taken e.g. you want to go out. DM comes in – shall I go or not; or shall I go now or later!

      In every type of situations, very significant or insignificant, key to overcome DM is to allow conflicting thoughts to pass through mind and observe with no emotion. Does not it sound simple? But, believe me people don’t do that! They have illusion to do it. They rush to decide without observing but would claim they have observed. One needs to be patient in doing this to start with. Once you practice this, you would start to do it faster. And that is what decisive or successful people do!

      Does it sound convincing? If not, please feel free to give me opportunity to share more thoughts with you.

  2. Rudra Avatar

    Well, before reading any further, I would say if you’re in 2 minds – “Just do it” 😀

    In your example, deciding not to take the offer for fear of failure is pusillanimity and he suffered the consequences – rightly so!

    All sounds good till I reach “Observe w/o emotions”. It’s a great idea but shelving our emotions at-times is a trying task!

    But surely this needs to be sorted-out if we want to succeed… 🙂

    1. Murli Avatar

      I am glad to have your valued views!

      Well; if you are in 2 minds, you won’t do it! That’s is the beauty of our mind.

      Observe w/o emotions is the key to open the door to a power house. To get something, you do need to sacrifice some; but believe me here you can get tremendous advantages!!

  3. Murli Lohia Avatar
    Murli Lohia

    From: subhash deshpande []
    Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2014 1:49 AM
    To: Murli Lohia
    Subject: Re: Being in double mind…

    Dear Murlisir
    Your assumption was absolutely right ! Actually I coudn’t find reply window on Double Mindedness article ,may be due to my tab’s technical load error !
    The example given by you DM- If you want to go out – shall I or not ?
    Just to add my thinking or views on this DM -decision making system of our human brain whether its a small or big decision –
    Right now we were discussing on the decisions which we take at leisure though Double minded ,here we get time to think over !
    But how fast our brain takes decisions at critical situations though confusions are developed for fraction of seconds ? And mostly our brain succeeds ! Examples -1) We r driving & suddenly someone comes in front of the car- we succeed in saving both(ourself & other approaching car or person ) with a fastest decisive driving skills ( though Some DM takes place in our brain for fractions of seconds ! 2) At the time of Emergency landings , Stalls or last momemt the Landing gear fails ( When pilot is aprroaching on Runway for short finals – He may use Touch & Go option with fastest Retake off adjustments to save life etc…) Surgeon’s critical decisions at complicated emergencies !- In many such conditions though Double Mindedness occurs , person has to take quickest decision with or for a survial hope .Our brain also adjusts the speed of action as per necessity & emergency. I really wonder how our Central Nervous System is designed perfectly – Depending on the body’s needs and requirements it gets controlled by different areas .Some vital functions of the body are permanently automated by autonomic nervous system (Like heart function , Blood circulation , temperature control ….) Some of the body reflexes are automatically handled on spinal cord level ( not even wating for brains perception & decisive response – e g . In sleep if someone pinches ur feet , you immediately move the leg.
    This was just added dimension on DM decisions apart from its slowest or quickest decision making type( Double Mindedness is in both types -but speed of decision & action time differs )
    I really dont know whether this dimension was relevent to this DM topic or changing the subject !
    I honestly need your evaluation & guidance on this .
    Thanks & Regards
    Subhash Deshpande

    1. Murli Avatar

      Many thanks for your additional thoughts and examples! I indeed appreciate your thinking process and interest!!

      Double Mindedness (DM) occurs instantaneously and it depends upon an individual how long he/she remains in state of DM. Many would come out in a given situation by taking a decision or diverting their minds with or without taking a decision. If one comes up with a decision faster for whatever reason, we believe it to have happened all of a sudden. Let us not forget, as mentioned in the post, there are situations when DM may not take place, because that person is tuned for single mindedness like an athlete running 100 meter race or take the instance of Michael Schumacher, which led him to get hit during skiing!

      You would observe that human mind gets trained to recognize dangers and act fast to save self. Even though double mindedness could occur for few moments when unsafe situations are faced, but mind quickly shift focus on one decision, which person believes that it would save, in the examples cited by you. We can’t say that our central nervous system is designed that way; this is only a perception. Many people do fail in such situations! It is essentially the thoughts, which get firmly embedded in our mind and it does impact our cognitive skills.

      I hope, I have been able to share my thoughts to your satisfaction. If not, please feel free to revert back.

  4. Murli Lohia Avatar
    Murli Lohia

    From: subhash deshpande []
    Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2014 1:38 AM
    To: Murli Lohia
    Subject: Re: Being in double mind…

    Dear Murlisir
    Yes sir,I got convinced with your ‘100 Meters & Shumacher’ example ! And I feel we should also thank God for creating such wonderful Brain which has a Decisive Pacemaker system ( I mean to say ‘which decisive reaction to be taken very fast,at Medium speed or think at leisure and take the decision-It matches the speed of ‘NEEDs & DECISION’ ) I think brain evaluates & reconstructs the decisions( on experiences,available information or self defense mechanism and many more things,calculations,time bound processes etc. ) depending upon a ‘General Need’ to ‘Emergency’ hierarchy.E.g. if we are crossing the road, if road is clear and a very slow bus approaching towards us from a far off distance,we don’t make much hurry to cross the road and vice a versa ( We rapidly speed up or start running to complete the road cross,when bus is at high speed and on short distance.)
    I also agree with your CNS -perception and impact of embedded thoughts( as per our beliefs) ( sometimes in the form of illusions ,delusions,misconceptions etc.) on cognition process.

    * * While I was writing this mail ,suddenly popup window came up and warned” Bat. Remaining 7% Imd. conect the power ….” So here I had no DM chances as per sudden shutdown exp.from the past !!!!! * *( So I took immediate action to restore power)

    Some simple examples of double mindedness ,which are important to recheck before taking actions to avoid big loss.
    1) When we send a quotation or a letter to someone, we recheck it to avoid mistakes.
    2) Pilots repeat each action command as a cross check with Radio officer or co-pilot.
    3) Cash/cheque we deposit in the bank .

    Thinking process is like a chain reaction and self looping process ! Until you stop, it goes on running .
    Please kindly guide me freely for any misleading thoughts !

    Thanx & Regards

    Sub# Deshpande

    1. Murli Avatar

      I am very sorry for delay in my reply.

      I highly appreciate your message below and thought process. What you have stated is practical and functioning of our mind.

      To get the best out of our mind, it is best to focus/ observe the thoughts crossing mind w/o emotions, avoid conflicts of thoughts (this takes care of DM) and develop our consciousness in this process.

      I am grateful for your interest. Please keep it up!

  5. Neepa Khatri Avatar
    Neepa Khatri

    Dear Mr. Lohia,

    I really liked the concept of EOD, it is very clearly articulated.

    Many a times for important decision, positives and negatives of each side may be written down. When we are writing objectivity increases may help in decision making.

    Sometimes decision does not only affect us but to our family, our company and society
    which also may be considered.

    And if we are clear about why we are doing, I think confusion vanishes and decision evolves.


    1. Murli Avatar

      Many thanks for your valuable views and feedback!

      What you have elaborated is true and makes good sense to practice. OED actually helps bring clear thinking and people whose thinking is clear actually practices OED, knowingly or unknowingly!!

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