Saturday, December 4, 2010


"You are so confused, you are confusing everybody else - stop doing that."

These were the words of the workshop leader by the end of workshop I recently attended. I were confused. I didn't hide my confusion, I didn't resist my confusion - and I felt even more confused as he told me to stop it.

This made me stop and reflect on the state of confusion. What is it? when do we do it? how does it serve me? how does it NOT serve me.

What is confusion?
According to MedlinePlus:
"Confusion is the inability to think with your usual speed or clarity, including feeling disoriented and having difficulty paying attention, remembering, and making decisions. "

So confusion is a state of mind. It is a state where what used to be easy suddenly feels difficult. It's at state where you have lost the sense of direction - and you don't seem to know where to go next.

When do we chose confusion?
I have mostely felt confused when I have been challenged on my beliefs. When someone are questioning something I thought to know as true.

In this workshop I had been challenged on what it mean to me to love, to trust and to be devoted.

In love:
In highschool I was dating a great guy. He was sweet, loving and he totally adored me. That was too scary for me. I kept thinking that "He can only love me this way, because he believes I am something that I am not -and one day he'll find out". I didn't feel loveable, and having someone saying that he loved me was very confusing to me. After some confusion, wondering if I would trust him: "that I was lovable" or if I would hold on to my own belief: "I'm not lovable" I decided to hold on to my own believe and leave the guy.
A year later I met this guy again. Again he proclaimed his love for me. This time I felt to longing for being loved. The longing to believe that I was loveable. But then..... I found out that he loved someone else. I felt betrayed: "how could anyone feel love for more than one person?". I was confused. I tried to make him understand that it was not possible to love more than one. To make him understand that loving more than one ment not loving anyone at all. I was confused: did he love me? did he not love me? I wanted to hold on to the belief that it was not possible to feel romantic love for more than one person, so I had to believe that he did not love me - even if I felt as if he was speaking from the bottom of his heart.

In trust:
As many of you know I once had a partner who ended up hurting me physically. I had a belief that nobody would physical harm me if I just loved them. Not only did I love my partner - also after he was my ex-partner. I was also sure that he loved me. I got very confused.

Afther that whenever I was considering trusting a potential partner I would go back to some stage of confusion. Could I trust and be safe? should I trust or should I not trust? In general I just decided not to trust. It seemed easier, it seemed safer.
Actually it wasn't easier, because I was continousely going back and forth within my head: should I trust or should I not trust?

During my last training I met I guy who seemed to meet my standards for trustworthyness. He seemed willing to share, to be open and honest. He seemed to be the kind of person who would never get scared when I was in pain. He would simply stay by my side.
This seemed safe, he seemed trustworthy. Until he was faced by his own fear and pain. In that moment he changed. Watching a person you thought you were starting to get to know change to something very different was confusing to me.
And yet: I still wanted to trust him, regardless of the uncertainty of who he was. This was very confusing to me.
After years of fear of trusting. Years of building up rules about what made a person trustworthy. Rules which would keep me from "trusting the wrong persons"- rules which would make me safe. Suddenly I didn't want to follow the rules. I just wanted to feel the urge to trust. Very confusing.

In devotion:
I guess that the biggest devotions we have are the devotion to God or whatever higher spirite we believe in.
Many people believe that God or the universe is in charge of everything which happens. In charge of everything being for the benefit of the good, in charge of the meaning of life. In complete devotion to this God or universe we can relaxe and trust the world.

But what happens when we see illness, death, war? do we stay in trust, or do we get confused because these things seems to be wrong, and how can this happen with a loving God or a benevolent universe?

How does it serve me?

"I pretty much try to stay in a constant state of confusion
just because of the expression it leaves on my face"
- Quote Johnny Deep

People working with creative processes often uses confusion to guide others to "think out of the box" - to streetch your thoughts, to go beyond what you thought to be possible. Albert Einstein has said that he used to go away for weeks in states of confusion - so maybe it is usefull to get confused.

I used to have a teacher who liked confusion. When ever I got confused in his classes he would look at me and say "Confused, Good for you". Never once did he ask me to stop getting confused. To him confusion was a normal state for people to go to before deciding to change.

Writing this blog, it has become very clear to me that confusion happens when I meet a new belief which I am considering to take on - and when this belief is in conflict with an old belief I have not yet decided to let go of.

The confusion serves me as a way to withdraw, to not jump into a new world with my eyes closed.

How does it NOT serve me?
Did you ever hear someone say: "Don't listen to what I say - listen to what I mean" or a version of "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm sure you realize that what you heard is not what I ment". To me these are typical statements of confusion.

Confusion leaves the people around me in a state where they are not able to understand what I mean, what I want or where I'm going. Simply because I in the moment of confusion does not know what I mean, what I want or where I'm going. So even if confusion might serve me - as a mean to consider giving up old beliefs it might weaken my relationship with the people around me.

I know for sure that I love being around people with a high level of clarity - and yet I feel more comfortable being with people who are confused, when they are doing confusion with their eyes wide open. Knowing that they simply don't kno.

How much confusion can we take from other people? when does confusion makes us curious and when does it make us bored? can it make us energized or does it always drain us? Is confusion just a game of the ego and would deminishing of the ego lead to less confusion?

I'm confused.

Happy confusion



  1. Being confused, what could that be about?

    To me acceptance is key. Acceptance about what? Acceptance that one does not know, and doesn't have to order to have a pleasurable emotional experience. (If that is what one really is after)

    The usefulness of authentically believing that the universe is user friendly, that Bears eloquently shared and continues to share, with simplicity, from early in the rollout of his Option-ease embrace of life, with the world, comes to me when sharing your questions and reflections Joy.

    I think it might be confusing to refer to the absence of pretending to know as confusion, rather than simply a heads-up awareness that refusing to pretend to know, can be intrinsically useful and valuable for oneself.

    Joy-fulness, always


  2. Hi Joy,
    This morning I read your article for the second time, and it reminded me to a class during my volunteering period in the US where I thought to be confused about a question.

    At this time I learned that my confusion was not confusion but a way to not have to choose and not stand up for something I believed. It was an avoiding strategy. A way of hiding myself behind a quiet wall. Only that day I found out by doing this strategy, I missed out on a lot of things and got disappointed a lot because I didn't say what I wanted and so I didn't get what I wanted.

    Not doing confusion is for me all about taking a clear stand on the spot. It invites me to take ownership. When I take a stand it does have consequences: life get less predictable, more unexpected things happen (people responding to your stand).

    I found that life has become way more interesting and fun by showing myself to the world.

    I do admit that I still do confusion once in a while when I get an overload of beliefs that do not fit with the ones I hold. But now I recognize it quicker and solve it by becoming really clear about my beliefs and about the beliefs coming towards me, so I can reframe and evaluate. (Sree, this is for me a combination of "become clear on my beliefs" and take action "take a stand" in if possible one session)

  3. Hey Joy!

    I was thinking that when trying to gain clarity on confusion, the first step is to not confuse the motivation for confusion with the method of confusion. I think there are just a few basic motivations, but many methods.

    The motivations seem to be:
    1) Not really wanting clarity
    2) Having skipped steps to clarity
    3) Actually, I think it's just those two

    The biggest cause of confusion is not liking the answers that clarity might bring. You get confused about a relationship, because you don't like the prospects of staying and you don't like the prospects of leaving. You get confused about your job, because you really don't like it, but you're not sure that you can do better. In most cases, confusion is simply a way to avoid the decisions that clarity would mandate.

    In other cases, I think confusion is simply the result of having missed or skipped a step along the way. If you're working through a math problem and you understand addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, but you haven't really got the concept of zero (or infinity), then you'll do just fine most of the time. However, when you suddenly encounter dividing or multiplying by zero, everything gets confused.

    So, confusion often results from simply having missed a step along the way.

    Yup, that's pretty much it.

    Happy Sinterklaas!

  4. I get confused in face of new beliefs which are incongruent with my old beliefs and I'm trying to jump into the new beliefs without understanding which beliefs I have to let go of.

    Being confused at work doesn't always mean that there might be something better out there - I have trouble letting go of the belief that doing good means that there will soon happen something terrible, so feeling that everything is still invoking fear in me.

    I am with you on 2) - confusion comes from having missed steps to clarity - and from that comes 1) because how can you want clarity if you didn't understand it?

    Love and smiles

    Joy / Starbuck


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