How to Deal with the Chaos of Confusion

 

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image by Alexandra Bellink

 

Life is full of confusion. Confusion of love, passion, and romance. Confusion of family and friends. Confusion with life itself. What path we take, what turns we make. How we roll our dice.

Matthew Underwood

 

Just when you think you are getting clarity, beginning to make sense of things, something happens – usually something outside your control – and once again there is chaos. It could be chaos of events, or just chaos of feelings. But chaos nonetheless. And when chaos reigns, your thoughts and feelings go into a constant flux, a whirlwind that would not stop. Particularly, if you are the type who resists expressing emotions, hides them behind intellectual façade, or uses some other form of defence mechanism. This chaos of confusion emotions then is scary. Terrifying even.

Yet, I don’t think you can avoid it. Not if you want to live. Not if you want to participate in life. Not if you want to be able to appreciate the people in your life, and let them know that you care about them, that they matter.

It’s never that straight-forward, of course. Confusion with life usually relates to confusion with self, and/or confusion with people. It’s pretty difficult to find black and white answers either about yourself, or about other people. Particularly about other people, because you never quite know what the other person is thinking or feeling. No matter how close you are. 

Most people try to protect themselves, try to keep from getting your feelings hurt, hearts broken, try not to face the rejection or the pain that often comes from opening up, from trusting…and so you run from chaos, and fear the confusion.

This is all true…and this is what most people tell themselves when they are faced with conflicting, difficult, terrifying choices – not terrifying in the life threatening sense, but usually terrifying in a sense of either facing social or emotional rejection. 

But if you dig deep down, if you can face up to yourself, if you can admit the truth to yourself, this is what you will find: you are not confused. 

Whenever it comes to feeling, most people know exactly how they feel. Even if they don’t want to admit it. 

 

Henry Miller said, 

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood. 

 

That’s probably true to a certain extent, but more importantly, it’s just that you are not ready yet to see that order. You are not ready yet to find the pattern in chaos. 

If so, there are only two things you can do:

If you know that you are just avoiding life, push past the fear, and acknowledge the truth of your own emotions. You don’t have to tell the world if you are not ready, but stop lying to yourself. 

If you are not  yet ready to find that truth, if you are not in that place yet, give yourself time to process your feelings, your thoughts, and even your fears. But know that it is not the confusion that is the problem, but rather that it is your internal compass that needs to find its true north. Own your feelings. Own your actions. That may not solve all your problems, but it will at least take away the edge from the fear of chaos. 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Do you fear the confusion? How do you deal with it? Share your views in the comments below. 

 

 

How to Keep a Spiritual Journal

 

 

Note: The content of this article applies to spiritual journaling across all religious/non-religious spiritual beliefs. It doesn’t matter whether you use the Bible, Kuran, Gita, Upanishads, any other scripture, a multitude of spiritual beliefs, or your own inner compass. I’m also using the terms religious/spiritual interchangeably here.

Just over a week ago, my nan passed away, in India. The last time I saw her was almost a year ago when I spent four months in India – the longest time in about fifteen years. While I was there, my grandmother had a heart-attack and died within hours. This year, with my nan gone, I now have no grandmothers left, which is still something I’m coming to terms with.

Grieving works differently based on geographical distant. When my grandmother died, I was right there, at her side, then I was supporting my grandfather, constantly surrounded by people who were coming to pay their respects, funeral and all the ceremonies that accompany it….it was a non-stop whirlwind for more than a month. It was impossible not to feel the constant presence of death and loss. With my nan, I am thousands of mile away in England, and currently unable to go to India. The loss is no less, but I’m not constantly surrounded by it. I’m still absorbed in my own life, going through my daily routine and things that need to happen. The grieving is haphazard at best.

A few hours after I got the news of her death, I decided to start a project I’d wanted to do since my last trip to India. It wasn’t urgent, and I’ve tons of things going on, so I’d put it aside. But with my nan gone, it seemed like the time. Not just the time, but I had to start then, on that very day. It felt important that I do that, and so I did.

I started my spiritual journal. I’ve included spiritual and religious entries in my journals before, but the reason this is different, is because this is a deliberate project that I aim to complete (more about that in a moment).

So, how do you go about keeping a spiritual journal?

  1. Pick a notebook. 

    I am not keeping a separate journal. I thought about it, but as I have written before here, journaling for me is a part of life. It captures all areas of my life. If I were to keep a separate spiritual journal, it would remove this aspect from my regular life, which would not be a true reflection. I want this spiritual exploration to be a part of my daily life, and be represented as such in my journal. So for me, my spiritual journal is my regular journal, which at the moment is this gorgeous diary that my sister gave it to me for Christmas. You can decide what works for you. Either use your current journal, or pick a new notebook, just ensure that it’s a good quality product.
     
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  2. What is your WHY?

    Why do you want to keep this journal? Don’t worry if you don’t know the exact answer. Your reason does not have to be as concrete as mine is. But give it some thought. If you don’t have an immediate reason, journal about it. Do a quick free-writing exercise on why you want to keep a spiritual journal. It could be simply to explore your spiritual beliefs, to understand them. But if you have a specific purpose for doing this, then it would help to start with that in mind.For this particular project, my aim is to explore each verse of the Bhagavad Gita. My nan was a particular devotee of Lord Krishna, who is the God featured in the Bhagavad Gita. It seemed appropriate, in her memory, to start this project. I could think of no better tribute.  So my aim is write down each verse of the Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit (the original language it is written in), decipher the meanings of the Sanskirt words I don’t know by looking them up and writing them down in Gujarati, write the English translation of each verse, and finally, write my own thoughts/analysis/questions about each verse. It’s a trilingual project that is both a spiritual and intellectual exercise. This image below is what I wrote for Chapter 1, Verse 10:

    Gita


    Think about why you want to keep a spiritual journal. It is always better to know why you want to do something, and what is driving you, so that you are likely to stick with it. If you are planning to follow through on a religious scripture, it requires time and commitment. The Bhagavad Gita has 700 verses split over 18 chapters. I have not set myself any deadlines, but I plan to do it consistently enough, even if it’s just an average of 7 verses per week.

     

  3. Be Consistent

    This follows up from the above point. Like any form of journaling, spiritual journaling also requires consistency. You can’t reach the depth of your feelings, or your beliefs, or the level of self-awareness that shows you your true values without being consistent. If you genuinely want to reap benefits from a spiritual journal – regardless of whether you are keeping it to understand and explore, or to find peace – be consistent. If you have trouble with that, read this post.

     

  4. Start now

    If you want to keep a spiritual journal – and as you are reading this, I assume that something about it appeals to you – start now. Don’t procrastinate just because you don’t know how to do it, or because you are not sure what you are going to write. Sometimes, time will just feel right to do something, as it did for me, but at other times, you just need to make it right. You just need to start, and have faith that you will find  your way.

     

  5. Keep improvising

    You are unlikely to begin the way you mean to end. And you don’t need to. Journaling, as a reflection of self-awareness and self-improvement, is a work-in-progress. It, like the search for self, is something that you can continue to do for the rest of your life. You don’t have to know everything about your spiritual beliefs, the scripture you want to follow, your own faith, or even about keeping a journal when you start. Start with whatever you know, and improve as you go. You will learn more along the way, you will learn from others, you will also gain a deeper spiritual understanding…use everything you learn, and keep incorporating that knowledge and understanding into your spiritual journal. 

 

Finally, remember, like all journaling, spiritual journaling is about you. These are just guidelines, a starting point or an inspiration, but your journal can be anything you want, and include anything you want.

If you have kept a spiritual journal before, share your tips in the comments and help other readers. 

 

 

 

How to Keep A Gratitude Journal and Why You Should Keep One

 

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image by BK

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

– Melody Beattie

 

We live in a society that is focused on instant gratification and entitlement. People end up focusing so much on what they should have, what they deserve, and what they don’t have that they forget to appreciate what they do have.

There is nothing wrong with wanting things. There is nothing wrong with wanting a better, more comfortable life. There is nothing wrong with ambition, in fact, healthy ambition is good. It encourages you to push yourself, to be the best you can be. But in pursuing our wants and wishes, we need to remember what we have.

I recently watched The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Lovely movie. But the main character, now having achieved one of his main goals – the woman of his dreams, is so hell bent on pursuing his ambition for expansion that he is losing sight of what he has. He’s not the only one. We all do it. Particularly those of us who are driven and ambitious. We keep diving from one project to next, always in search for that next step that will take us closer to where we want to be.

But we need to remember….we are here now. Right now is all we have, because no one knows how many tomorrows are left.

So we need to value the now.

We need to appreciate it.

We need to be grateful for the things we have, and the people who are with us.

Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the best ways to do it. Whether  you keep a separate journal, or just include gratitude in your regular journal, it doesn’t matter. Do what works best for you. 

It doesn’t have to be complicated, or overly sentimental, or elaborate. A simple sentence that starts with “I am thankful for…” or “I’m grateful…” is enough. 

Think about everything and everyone that you are thankful for. This will change from day to day. 

One day you may be grateful that someone gave you a lift in the rain. Another day you may be grateful for the continuous support of your parents or partner or siblings. You may be grateful for friends who have remained at your side through thick and thin, or a cheerful bus driver who brightens up your morning by wishing you a good morning. 

Life is made up for both little and big moments, and your gratitude journal is a place to appreciate all of it. By listing everything you are grateful for, you will not only come to appreciate everything you have, but you will also get an immediate boost of happiness by having that awareness. 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Start your gratitude journal, by listing at least 5 things that you are grateful for.