It is a very courageous thing for me to write about confusion because all my life I have suffered greatly because of confusion, from simple things to career choices and to whether live a life of a hermit or a householder, to drop out from college or continue. I cannot gauge the amount of time I lost in confusion-driven thinking and struggling to come out of it or setting matters right after having taken halfhearted steps in the confused state.
From childhood, my habits were healthy in all areas (except eating and thinking too much on anything). This one habit of thinking-too-much threw me in confusion and moral dilemmas quite often than normal. That is why I feel compassionate for people who ask about overthinking, I can relate to them and challenges they are facing.
Dive deep to find underlying drivers
Understand the underlying causes and long-term issues, which when dealt with will address confusion majorly. In my case I found normally below drivers pushing me into confusion time and again:
- Fear/shame/hesitation of some kind.
- The greed of everything — wanting all good things, good techniques, cover every topic, not being able to let go few. My focus was spread thin and didn’t give me work satisfaction.
- Attachment to positive self-image that I had and defending it in eyes of parents and friends.
- Missing on the defining priorities or messing it up, and not reviewing the misses.
- Comparing the two incomparable things: apples and oranges, and remaining stuck.
- Half-cooked knowledge and inadequate information.
- Missing the context and trying to follow ideas of great masters and suffering from indigestion and indecisiveness to pick suitable. Going for best and missing the suitable to my make.
- Starting with tough and ambitious choices and then leaving it when challenged with discomforts, and losing on confidence and willpower.
Some tips for confusion handling
Sharing the ones which helped me in dealing with confusion and restoring my confidence back in life, in decision making, learning the skill of getting unstuck, facing fear and greed, experimenting, and adopting new habits.
- Awareness — Being aware of confusion, the amount and kind of greed, and constant fueling by negative self-talk gives a distance and draws energy from all of cluttered way of thinking. The simultaneous pull on both sides; greed and fear or dislike, and all stupidities around it come into observation and understanding when we become gently aware of it. Awareness gives a total understanding of situation and distance from it. Understanding and awareness loosens our grip and attachment to the whole process and frees up energy for some positive and uninfluenced response.
- Minimalist choice lifestyle — Design your routine, diets, shopping, and many such not-so-important areas in such a way that you don’t have to fatigue yourself in choosing from many-many cases. Keep the only minimum in focus, max 3. The less we have to choose from, better it is for our brain.
- Avoid extremes and take middle path— Sometimes we get into the over-enthusiastic mode and over-commit to self and others and later on find it difficult to stick to the promises made. This beats up our confidence and instills fear and shame and block inspiration for new changes. Gautam Buddha recommended the middle path for this issue, and this principle was popularly known as Golden Mean. This keeps things in balance and checks the ambitious and frustrating sides of our mind, which is healthier and in control when consistent and moves up incrementally on the change ladder.
- Avoid comparing apples to oranges — we often compare between two different situations, career, spiritual practices, meditations to follow, Gurus, and values. These are not quantity based simple choices to weigh one better than the other, and everything has a place in life. One may choose based on his make, interest, situation, suitability, and capacity but should avoid comparative study between two incomparable things. Use your gut feeling, follow your heart but avoid your mathematical brain, which should be used for easy comparisons only.
- Build a smart parking facility for unclear items — This is in particular for people who get easily confused like me even in spiritual congregations, sermons, and life coaching workshops which are meant to clear your doubts. I was unfortunate many times to return energized by the environment but more confused about what I need to do. Even my consistent practices were disturbed by recent half-cooked ideas. Out of reverence to Gurus, didn’t feel good to ignore what was said with emphasis. One day by grace, I got one suggestion in one of my influences writings that a seeker should keep parking what is not clear to him, and keep in focus the clearest ones only, and preferably just one, which is interesting, doable and easy to integrate in life. Otherwise, we cannot follow half-cooked items long and that will never become part of our life. Parked ones can be dealt in future once clear. This advice lifted a burden from my heart and gave me a system to deal with confusing and difficult ones without disturbing my consistent and loved practices. Choose what you are totally clear to implement and park the unclear, confusing and undigested ones.
- Focus on the problem and do not try to understand everything. “Why some Saint said this, what did he mean?”, “I followed all bits but this one is stuck in my head and how is that relevant in modern life”? Such thoughts triggered a lot of irrelevant analysis and that exercised my brain but life remained the same without any significant change and problems like ego, possessiveness, desires kept disturbing me like before. Even I did the comparative study between texts of two Gurus to ensure I have the best ideas without focusing more on the implementation of the idea. All this was not necessary and fatigued a lot, wasted valuable time, and drowned in confusing hangovers. While practicing meditation, or taking up one idea and bringing that to practice increased my confidence and clarity on the subject. I learned the hard way, but it’s far more important to know less but relevant to your current problem than to know more, and invite random contemplations and in the end remain confused about what needs to be done.
- Let go some benefits — In making any choice we have to let go some benefits, some securities, get exposed to some more risks but there are benefits too of leaving some benefits — we will have improved focus, greater dedication, and less clutter, more clarity, more depth and time for what we have chosen. More chances of excellence and creating a difference. Laser focus and deep work may become easier to achieve if we let go some benefits willingly.
- The principle of yellow light — In thick dense fog, we can’t see quite far but up to a distance the yellow fog light covers, and we got to move slowly. But as we move forward the yellow light coverage also shifts forward and we can continue moving forward. That occurs only if we keep moving, so is life, we should not wait for the complete vision in the first step and move forward with whatever clarity we have and rest will follow as we move further.
There are many such tips you will get automatically when you learn from your experiences. Self-learning is fun and transforming. Above suggestions will also give you hint on how to deal with confusion and progress uninterrupted on your life journey.