Chronic confusion is a red flag.

When I’m repeatedly feeling muddled about a particular issue, I’ve learned that this is a call to look deeper, because things usually aren’t what they appear.

I see this frequently with clients, too. If someone comes in for multiple tarot readings on the same topic, rarely is this a simple matter of not being sure what to do.

What’s actually going on here?

Nine times out of ten, we know exactly what we want.

Confusion rears its ugly head when we start thinking about how our choice will affect other people, what they might think of us, and how we’re going to communicate our choice to them (and imagining all the ways this could go wrong).

These factors start to feel overwhelming, and in the mental churnings, this gets confused with not knowing what we want.

Does this sound familiar?

While I have more real-life examples of this than I could ever possibly list, here are three:

Petra has been on the fence about leaving her boyfriend for months, but when you listen between the lines, it’s clear as day that she wants to leave but doesn’t know how to tell him, doesn’t know where she’ll live after the break up, doesn’t know if their mutual friends will ditch her. 

Dan hates his job but feels like it might be worth sticking it out ’til retirement, even though he’s suffering from pretty serious health issues that seem exacerbated by work stress. When it comes right down to it, he’s not actually worried about being able to find another job–in fact, he’s already had another offer–but he’s afraid that his boss, who’s also in his social circle, will take it personally. 

Kendra’s been majoring in sociology for the past two years, and it feels like a dead end. She loves to write and feels passionate about journalism, but the thought of telling her parents about the switch is enough to give her a panic attack. Maybe she can figure out a way to do both?

Reading about someone else, it’s easy to think–duh! Just do x, y, z, but having worked with countless clients (and myself!) in similar situations, I can assure you that it rarely feels that straightforward when you’re in the hot seat.

Here’s the thing:

Chronic confusion can serve as a life-dampening cloud or a wake-up call.

It’s often a signal that we’ve reached our current limit in terms of skills or emotional resiliency, and moving through the confusion requires building ourselves up in one or both of those areas.

A common theme of all three examples above is the fear of expressing what one truly thinks, feels and needs.

The Upside is…

When we own what we know, what we feel, what we think, we can move on to addressing the actual issue.

This isn’t a matter of confusion. This is a matter of learning and applying new skills, including the skill of emotional resiliency.

Perhaps we need to refine our communication skills (Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life).

Or move away from learned habits that equate our self-worth with others’ opinions of us (Codependent No More).

Or rethink our perceptions of conflict (Conflict Is Not Abuse).

Perhaps authentic expression feels too vulnerable, and we need to build our resiliency in this area (Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection).

In matters of breakups, issues might be practical: Perhaps we’ve been outsourcing certain skills to our partner, from paying bills to making decisions, and splitting up would require us to nurture those skills in ourselves.

The approach will depend on the situation, of course, but the real issue will remain hidden so long as we distance ourselves from what we know and choose the shadow comforts of confusion.

Try This Instead

One way to clear the clouds is by asking yourself, what would I like to do in this situation if there were zero consequences for my actions?

Brainstorm, meditate, journal on this.

Honor your truth as it emerges from the chatter of the mind.

Feel what you feel.

Think what you think.

Know what you know.

You know more than you think.


If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Is That a Fact? and Allowing Things to Work.