By George A. Boyd © 2022
When you are confused, it is difficult to make a decision… it is difficult to know what is true… it is difficult to know what to believe. Confusion stops you from moving forward in your life, because you are not clear about what you need to do.
Clarity is the antidote for confusion. You know what you need to do. You know what are your values that you hold to be true. You know what you believe about the next step for your life.
You may wish to visualize the confusion is like the surface of a turbulent storm; and clarity is like the calm eye of that storm. Your journey to clarity must pass through that turbulence to the serene center beyond it.
Let’s look at the layers of confusion:
- Immobility – Your action is frozen; you feel you cannot move forward. You have ideas that swirl in your head; you cannot make a decision. You don’t know what to believe; different opinions rankle in your mind, and argue with one another.
- Collection – You resolve to move out of confusion. You collect your attention. You get ready to take action, when you are clear what to do. You become willing to examine your values and beliefs to find out what is resonant truth.
- Monitoring – You simply observe the beliefs and different voices that arise in your mind, and allow them to arise and pass away. You settle down into a place of greater calm, stillness, and centeredness. You choose to be and just observe.
- Introspection – You ask your conscience what its truths are, and you take each value and let the conscience examine it to ascertain if it is true. If it is not true, you jettison it. You notice which beliefs you can verify: if you cannot verify a belief, you set it aside as a currently unverifiable hypothesis. You make a list of potential actions you could take: you brainstorm what you might do, without committing to do any of the options.
- Discernment – You identify what outcome you are seeking to achieve. You notice which of the potential actions you have listed you could take could get you that outcome. You notice if you are missing anything that you need to carry out this activity. For example, is there something your need to know? Is there a skill that you need to learn or can you hire someone who has that skill? Do you have the money to do what you need to do? If not, where might you secure these funds?
- Tentative plan – You get a vision of what you want to achieve and alternate pathways to reach that objective. You evaluate each plan for its pros and cons, its benefits and risks.
- Taking action – You decide which option you will select. You are clear about what you believe, what your values are, and what you will do to move forward. At this stage, you have the requisite clarity to change your situation and know what your next step is.
You can get out of the storm of confusion through following these steps. If it is hard to do this on your own, an experienced coach or psychotherapist can walk you through these steps. You can catalyze this process through:
- Notice that you are confused. Recognize what you are experiencing is confusion.
- Decide that you are going to resolve the confusion… that you are going to move from not knowing what to do to knowing what to do and then carrying out that action.
- Sit with the feelings and thoughts that are swirling in your mind and observe them. Let them settle out until you come to a place of calmness and centeredness in your mind.
- Take each belief that arises and ask, “Is this true?” “Do I know this to be true?” Put aside any beliefs that you cannot verify as true. Next, ask: “What is true for me?” You want to become aware of your genuine values and truths. You will act from this bedrock of your integrity.
- Think about what you want to achieve. Notice the rankling thoughts and beliefs that formed the storm wall of your confusion are each either (a) suggestions for potential actions you might take, or (b) considerations that might discourage you from taking certain actions. Notice if any of these proposed solutions in this cloud of thoughts and beliefs will help you achieve your goal.
- You begin to formulate different plans that can create movement from where you are now to what you want to achieve. You notice if anything is holding you back, and you develop a way to rectify this issue.
- When you know the path you will take, you take action: this will create the movement that will change your current situation. Even if it is a baby step, it is movement, and that will get you out of the place of being stuck and not knowing what to do.
We teach Vipassana meditation to assist you with step three of this process, and Dharma Yoga to facilitate moving through step four in our intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.
You may draw upon your own resources, when you have made decisions and made changes in your life, for steps two, five, six, and seven. Notice you have made changes in the past; you can apply your decision-making power to make changes in your life now and get yourself out of confusion.
If you are currently in a state of confusion, you don’t have to stay there. There is a path to clarity and movement: may you find that path now.