How to Deal with the Chaos of Confusion



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. 


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



9 thoughts on “How to Deal with the Chaos of Confusion

  1. When I feel confused about what actions to take in any situation, I immediately weed out anything that is not allowed by my religion. I then check my options against my core principles. The action that best fits with those is my choice. I no longer allow the world or other people to decide things for me.

  2. I find that I need to sleep on a problem that has brought chaos and confusion to me. It gives me time to sort through any anxiety and get myself organized to work through whatever has come up.

  3. Ed,

    Thanks for sharing how you deal with it. It’s certainly a very solid way to approach it.

    But how do you find it when you are dealing with emotional confusion vs. action confusion – for example, religion/core values may make it bit easier to decide not to do something, but perhaps may not offer as much clarity when there is no right or wrong, just choices.

    Do you have a next level that works down from there?

  4. My response to genuinely confusing or even upsetting situations has changed significantly over the last years. If I come across something that genuinely confuses or scares me then I will step back from the situation, get myself alone and try to focus on what it *really* is that I’m upset about.

    I’ve recently learned to start writing things down on a map of emotions and just that act itself helps to dissociate yourself from whatever is causing the upset. Then I will bring in close and trusted friends/mentors (depending on whether it’s work or personal) and discuss what I find to bring it out into the open.

    Once the problem is named and shamed then comes the hard part – actions to step towards a solution and a desired outcome.

    Taking a step by step approach and building understanding of the person or situation causing the confusion tends to take away the emotion and allows you to take a rational step forward.

  5. Hi Dolly,
    It’s still a matter of what fits best with my core principles. These are: Relationship with God, Self-Discipline, Friendship, Adventure, and Creativity.
    For instance, let’s consider a new job offer. No right or wrong, just a choice. Money is not so important to me, so even if the pay was great, if the job would require so much of my time that I could not pursue a more adventurous life, I would turn it down.

  6. Hi Dolly. The last paragraph of your post rings truest to me. After many many years of stuffing emotions down inside me – I am learning to stop doing that and your last paragraph sums up where I feel I currently am.

    And once again THANK YOU for Saturday’s class
    Best regards

  7. Shumit,

    It’s a good approach, and step-by-step is certainly sensible. But also be careful – because if the chaos is due to emotion, taking away all emotions and being entirely rational may not necessarily be the healthiest thing to do.

  8. Sue,

    You are very welcome, indeed! Glad the paragraph resonated with you. It is the hardest part – and it takes time (sometimes, repeatedly in my experience), but awareness is half the battle.

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