Who likes to be confused? You don’t know what things mean. Maybe you don’t know how you feel. It could be that you don’t know what to do. All this could leave you feeling paralyzed. What do you do? Ack! Relax. Read on and see why confusion is a good thing.
When you acquire new information that fits smoothly with what you already know and incorporate it into your life, we call that growth. When you encounter new information that doesn’t fit smoothly with that you already know, it creates confusion. That presents an opportunity for growth. I say “opportunity” because you can always reject it, deny it, or ignore it.
Let me show you what I mean. Let’s say that your partner says he or she loves only you. Then you see some suggestive texts that strongly suggest otherwise. On one hand, you want to believe what your partner said. On the other hand, the only reasonable explanation for the texts you saw is to believe that this is not the truth.
Most of us would be in a place of confusion at this point. We could reject the information and tell ourselves that it isn’t what it looks like. We can find a way to incorporate it into our beliefs so that we could accept both things – the texts were innocent and our partner loves only us. Or we can trust that the information is what it looks like and our partner isn’t what we thought.
The latter is the hardest thing to do. It’s also the only choice that leads to growth because it allows the new information to be a bridge to a new belief.
Here is another example. Let’s say that “Josie” has always been a straight A student. Good grades come easily. She believes she is really smart. Then she gets into college, and for the first time, she’s struggling to pass. Josie could maintain that she’s smart and blame her grades on her teachers, being tired, or not having enough time to do all the work. She can continue to believe that she’s smart and maintain the same study habits she had from high school. Meanwhile she will continue to struggle and be confused as to what’s going on. Or she can accept that she’s smart while also realizing that she needs to do something different if she wants to continue getting high marks in school.
When you look at it this way, it may seem pretty obvious that moving towards growth is the only effective way to go. Yet when we’re in that situation, it may not feel so obvious. Facing the idea that the person we love isn’t true to us can be a hard pill to swallow. Coming to grips with the idea that you might not be as naturally gifted as you thought can feel like an attack on your identity if you have always been “The Smart One.”
Confusion doesn’t have to strike that close to your heart though. If you always believed something about your ancestry, another religion, carrots, or how soap is made, and you are confronted with a new idea, entertain it. Who knows? It may turn out to be wrong, but if it’s right, you have an opportunity to grow beyond your current beliefs. When that happens, your knowledge base grows and your world expands.
When you choose growth, you show yourself that no matter what changes, you can roll with it. This build competence and self-trust. This sends the message to yourself that change is not such a big deal. You can handle it. You will be okay. Life is always in flux, so the more comfortable you are with change, the easier your life will be.
So next time you are confused, pause. Ask yourself, “What was the old belief?” Then ask yourself, “What is the new information?” Stand in your truth. Trust that you see, hear, or perceive what you think you do. Then ask how can you move forward in a way that incorporates the old and new information while still being true to yourself. If you can do that, confusion can excite you because every time it appears, you can say to yourself, “Growth opportunity! Whee!”