How To Deal With Feelings Of Confusion
One of my favorite books is “Deep Survival” by National Geographic writer Laurence Gonzales. He is the first researcher to try to pull together a comprehensive explanation for why some people survive horrible circumstances even though all odds are against them, while other people succumb and perish in relatively small accidents.
One of the most memorable conclusions he reveals in his book is that everyone who dies in a survival situation that they could have made it through, dies of confusion.
I’d never heard of someone dying of confusion, but when you think about it, it makes sense.
There is always a destructive energy at work when we are going through the tough challenges of life.
Exhaustion, anxiety and fear all come together to create a general state of confusion that leads us to make poor decisions which incapacitate us even further in a tightening spiral until our minds and our emotions become like two drowning swimmers dragging each other down.
We become so confused that we either make destructive decisions or no decisions at all, and the circumstances that result destroy our spirits and in some cases can destroy our lives.
Death by confusion. Can easily happen whether a person finds themselves lost in the woods or lost in life.
But it doesn’t have to happen. Lots of people are survivors. How do you ensure you’re one of them?
How do you prevent exhaustion, anxiety and fear from combining into confusion that can snuff you out?
The way to do it is to focus on the opposite of fear and confusion: Faith.
Faith is simply trust in that which you do not fully understand. Focusing on faith is the key to dispelling the deadly confusion that can destroy us.
Faith is the arch enemy of anxiety and fear.
Faith is the death of confusion.
Faith enables us to focus on one supremely positive thing in this dark world – an anchor truth that guides us in our lives.
For many people, faith means trusting that they are unconditionally loved by a God who intimately understands their suffering, pain and struggle.
I know how it is for me when I’m struggling. It’s easy to start thinking that God lets us suffer trials because he doesn’t care about us, or he isn’t there.
Somebody told me recently they were praying to find a job in an easier environment. They said something like, “ I work with difficult, cranky people all the time. It’s driving me totally crazy.” Well, so do I, and so do the people who work with me. It’s a world of fallen, cranky, difficult people.
Maybe you have people in your work who have habits or behaviors that are a real problem for you. Often people want to get transferred to a nicer job with nicer people. Maybe that would be a good thing, but maybe working on getting along with difficult people is the one thing that will grow your character and catapult you into a whole new life trajectory.
So here’s where faith comes in: Maybe the lesson you most need to learn, the training you most need to undertake in order to ensure your survival, involves learning and practicing development of your character in an area that you would rather disengage from.
Maybe God wants to grow you in your ability to love somebody, when it would be easier to resent, or judge, or write them off.
Maybe for you, your confusion revolves around a relationship or an addiction or financial hardship or giving or sacrifice.
Here are some thoughts you might want to consider if you are feeling confused.
1) In the western world, we have placed our faith in little gods with names like Comfort, Ease, Security, and Success. Somewhere along the line, many people have gotten the idea that the purpose of life is to become increasingly more comfortable.
Any step away from our comfort zone is bound to result in feelings of uncertainty and confusion.
How much of what you are feeling is a result of you being afraid of leaving your comfort zone?
2) Everyone has faith. Faith is simply trust in that which you do not fully understand.
The fact is, you will never fully understand all of the ‘why’ questions in your life. And you don’t need to understand everything in order to practice faith.
You might not understand quite yet why you are so angry, or why you are so afraid of change, or why you experience all of the emotions you do.
Are you able to simply trust that you aren’t alone in your struggles, even though you might not fully understand who God is yet?
3) Confusion is a terrible feeling; a feeling of being lost in the most basic sense. The markers, cues and guideposts of life can’t be seen, and the result can be extreme anxiety.
The way to combat confusion is to find your anchor. The reason why faith in God is such a powerful anti-confusion remedy is that no matter what happens in a person’s life they can rest on the solid rock of knowing for certain that they are in the hands of a loving God, both in this life and the next.
What is one thing in your life that you know for certain is true?
Answering that question will do a great deal to combat your feelings of confusion and anxiety.
4) Relax! Think back on times you were confused in the past. It all worked out, didn’t it?
Maybe you can even look back on your life and see how in retrospect your most confusing and uncertain experiences were the times of greatest growth.
Is it possible that by avoiding a decision you are experiencing confusion and sabotaging your own personal growth?