How To Find Clarity When You’re Feeling Confused

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Most people don’t like to feel confused.  It’s foggy, you have to hang out in the unknown, you don’t feel in control, you are unsure of what to do, you feel overwhelmed by problems or by the possibilities available to you. Either way, it’s not fun for most people to feel confused and not know what to do next.

Confusion stems from the mind. It comes from thinking. When we are confused about which choices to make, it feels pretty logical to try and think our way out of it. This is a mistake.

Think about it (haha, yeah, I heard that!), on one level there’s the situation that’s playing out. Then layered on top are your thoughts about that situation, and we feel confused when we can’t make mental sense of what’s occurring. I’m not poo-pooing thinking. There’s a time and place for it, but that time isn’t when you’re confused. If anything, confusion is a signal to stop thinking for a bit. It’s telling you that you’ve slipped into overthinking and are doing your own head in!

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

Albert Einstein

Since confusion is created by thinking, thinking will not resolve it. Confusion always clears eventually, but you will increase the amount of time you’re in that state by engaging in behaviours that feed it. Behaviours like analysing, ruminating, obsessing etc, basically all different types of thinking.

I get it, it’s so tempting to try to think your way out of confusion. It gives you something to do and makes you feel like you’re proactively seeking a resolution. But that option only makes sense because you already feel confused. When you are in the state or level of confusion, the options available to you are really just things that will create more confusion. Ever heard of the term analysis paralysis? Or found yourself regretting a decision, saying ‘I wasn’t thinking straight’?

“Confusion is the 1st step towards clarity.”

Syd Field

Now, you can analyse your way to some kind of solution but you cannot analyse your way to clarity. A solution is the booby prize, clarity is the jackpot. A solution borne of confusion is very different to a resolution borne of clarity; two very different things with two different outcomes.

Solutions borne from confusion are often short-term fixes, a mere plaster slapped on a deeper issue. Resolutions from clarity are often innovative, inspired and purposeful. They take you forward, while solutions keep you returning to the same old problem over and over again. So it depends on what you want. If ticking things off your to-do list is what you want from your life, please by all means keep being led by your confusion, running from it, acting from it. But if you want real, lasting resolution, the kind that comes from clarity of thought and feeds meaning, vision and purpose in your life the answer you are seeking lies outside of you obsessively thinking about it.

Thinking feeds confusion. Stillness leads to clarity.

So how do you find clarity? Clarity comes from stillness. When you’re feeling confused and in need of clarity a still mind is what you need.

Here are some ways to achieve it:

Accept your confusion

You’re confused. It happens to the best of us and is a normal part of being human. (If you find you are confused all the time, however, it may point to a health or mental issue that you should see a professional about.) Accepting the confusion is just being real with yourself about where you are. You can’t change it by denying it, that will feed it too. Accept you are confused and know that confusion leads to clarity.

See through the fallacy

It’s a fallacy to believe that you can think your way to resolving the issue.  Don’t act on your need to start thinking about the problem over and over again. Personally, I find this to be the hardest part. When in the state of confusion, the old goat in me doesn’t want to let go. I’m like ‘I MUST figure this out!’ I think I want to push through and solve the issue, but really I want the discomfort of the confusion to end. It seems counter-intuitive to let go of the problem in order to solve it. It may feel as though you are not committed to solving the issue. But the opposite is true: If you are really committed to resolving the issue the best thing you can do is let go of it. Just for now, not forever….

Mindfulness

The mind can be stilled beautifully through mindfulness. There are many resources online, so google it and find one that works for you. A couple of simple ideas are to sit and focus on your breathing for 10 minutes, or do a scan of each of your body parts and check in with how they feel.

Get into your body

A great way to get out of your head is to get into your body. Physical movement is excellent for getting you out of your head and into your body. More so if it involves some physical exertion and/or fun. Running or jogging, dancing, yoga, zumba, power walking, swimming are all great for getting you into your body.

Have a shower

Some of my best ideas and resolutions come to me in the shower. I think it’s because my mind is switched off, relaxed and really enjoying the warm water and the smells of my products.

Use your right brain

When I say get out of your head, what I really mean is get out of your left brain. Your left brain is the side of the brain that values logic, reason and being rational. A highly valued yet overused part of the brain in our society. Engaging your right brain, the side that values creativity, artistic expression and intuition gives your left brain a break from all that compulsive thinking which is taking you deeper into confusion.

I consulted an online dictionary to find the right word whilst writing this post, and noticed that antonyms of ‘logic’ include absurdity, brainlessness, insanity, nonsensicalness and senselessness. Erm, judgement much?! This is a great illustration of the overwhelming bias we have to the left brain. Bear in mind that the internalisation of this bias will make you feel you are going about resolving your confusion and finding clarity the wrong way by stepping away from your left brain. Do your best to hold firm, though, and give your right brain a chance to work its magic!

I’m here to support you, so if you are spending more time than you would like feeling confused about what you want from life and how to get it, book a consultation and let’s see how I can help you.

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