Piece of Mind for Peace of Mind

Achieving inner harmony and balance is within your reach.

Posted Dec 14, 2018

Do you ever have the sense that there’s more than one of you, or at least different parts of you? I’m not talking about another physical person, and I’m not thinking about some secret identity, a double-life, or even a “split personality.” What I’m referring to is the very common phenomenon of people having different states of mind in different situations.

Perhaps, on occasion, it seems like you’re a different person at work compared to who you are at home. Or maybe the way you behave around your friends is different from what you do when you’re visiting your parents. Do you ever get the feeling that you’re arguing or fighting with yourself?

Even the description of “I” and “me” can indicate a compartmentalization that seems to be a very common feature of daily life. It’s not at all unusual to hear expressions like “I just told myself not to worry about it” or some other statement that clearly indicates a conversation or dialogue occurring between two distinct entities. Of course, there’s only one you, and these different parts are all parts of the same you, but, at times, it might seem as though you have a village or community between your ears.

Most of the time, all the parts seem to go about their businesses quite harmoniously. They’re all on the same page and working in the same direction. Occasionally, however, two or more of the parts can be at loggerheads. Perhaps one part wants to order all three courses but another part wants to look trim and lean. Is there a part that wants to fit in and be liked but also a part that wants to be heard and rock the boat?

There’s nothing at all wrong with these experiences. They’re every bit as normal to daily existence as breathing in and out or putting one foot in front of the other. In fact, all the choices you make throughout your life are only choices because you’re composed of different parts striving for different goals. If I was to offer you the choice of a million bucks or a handful of beach sand, that probably wouldn’t even seem like a choice to you. Why? Because a big part of you would probably love to get its hands on the million bucks, but there's probably no part of you that desperately wants to acquire the sand. A choice is only a choice because we make it so based entirely on our own priorities, preferences, desires, and values. 

Choices such as whether to order the lemon myrtle chicken salad or the salt and pepper squid, appear as choices because one part of you would like to try the salad, whereas another part of you has its metaphorical eye on the squid.

The longer a choice exists, that is, the longer that different parts continue to lobby for their preferred position at the expense of the other option, the more perturbed and unsettled you will be. It may be that, at the heart of all psychological distress, are two or more parts insisting that incompatible courses of action are followed by one body.

Just suck it up and ignore your boss’s unwelcome advances. No! Take the risk and leave the job. Something else will come up.

For as long as you have one part telling you to stay and another part telling you to leave, you will be bothered – even distressed.

We can’t ever be in two places at once, but that knowledge won’t stop the pieces of your mind sometimes insisting that you do just that. It almost seems as though, from time to time, the different pieces are unaware of each other’s existence. On the other hand, when important goals are being followed, it doesn’t even feel like the mind has pieces. At those times when things are clear, when there is focus and purpose, it seems like there’s just one solitary, united mind.

Fortunately, we can all achieve the peace of mind that emerges when conflict, debate, and doubt are absent. As different and incompatible as parts or pieces of our mind can be, they are all connected to fundamental and cherished aspects of our being. There’s another piece, in the background of the fractious pieces, that has set these warring pieces their tasks. Somehow the wires got crossed – there was never any intention to create a skirmish. As the plans unfolded, however, the different ways of achieving the same thing turned out to be opposite ways.

 Dreamstime (Public Domain)
Source: Dreamstime (Public Domain)

So, to stop the fight, you have to find the piece behind the pieces. It’s from this piece that you’ll find peace of mind. Focusing on the fighting pieces might subdue things for a while, but it won’t ever resolve the conflict. It can be a bit like trying to stop an overflowing bath by scooping out the water rather than just turning off the tap. You have to go to the source of the problem. At first, of course, you won’t know where that source is. If you did, you’d already be there! All you know for certain is that it’s in there somewhere.

This is a journey of genuine discovery that only you can take. Other people can help, but only you can do the searching, and only you will know when you’ve found the right piece. In fact, all of you will know. When you find the piece that’s the essence of you, stay there a while, enjoy the view. In fact, the more frequently you can visit this piece, inspect it, and cozy up to it, the more contented and meaningful your life will be.

The pieces of our mind are all necessary and important. At the most basic level, they all have a purpose. For many of them, their purposes will change depending on the higher level purposes of other pieces. All the pieces are all helping us be the people we are and the people we can be. At times, they create conflict and unrest, but they can also smash world records, win Nobel prizes, and discover life-saving medical breakthroughs. The joy and satisfaction that comes from all of our pieces uniting and moving us in the same direction is certainly worth the effort of finding that fundamental piece (or pieces) that is playing an orchestrating role in the activity of all the other pieces.