I remember clearly where I was the first time I was told that confusion is a good thing. I was attending a cross-cultural counselling course in 1999 run by Karaj and we had both just arrived. We chatted outside for a while and I happened to say I was confused about something. He just said, ‘That’s good‘. I was intrigued. How could confusion be good?

On the face of it confusion is not easy to cope with. There may be decisions to be made and action to be taken, but the process is difficult because we are surrounded by so many options, influences and considerations. They’re everywhere. It’s no wonder we experience a spinning feeling when confused; our mind is rushing between all the available choices. Round and round. But that is also the beauty of confusion. It means we are open to everything. All possibilities have an equal chance of being considered.

The opposite is a tunnel-visioned focus on a particular goal which, by definition, excludes everything else. To avoid any misunderstanding, let me say that being focused on a goal is not the problem. The expectations are the problem. When we have a goal in mind we immediately begin to think of how it is going to work out. We create plausible scenarios, filling in the details of a pathway we estimate will eventually lead to our objective. When we do this, however, we limit the range of possibilities to a fraction of those available; a comparably tiny number which we have decided are feasible.

Consider the following scenario: standing on the beach, I see a man drowning in the ocean. He is 150 metres from the shore. 100 metres to my right are rocks which extend 200 meters into the water. If I run down the beach and across the rocks I could dive in from a point which is only 30 metres away from the man. The route across the rocks is much further, but I will get to the drowning man quicker because I am a faster runner than swimmer. If my focus is too much on the obvious route, I am likely to miss the less conspicuous, but quicker option.

Once we frame confusion in this way, we are able to appreciate the benefits of inhabiting such a state. Consequently, If we know we are in a good space – one of opportunity and potential – we can relax. And when we relax, we begin to see things more clearly. Being open to all eventualities means we are alert, awake, on the lookout for something which might make our decision easier. It also means that if a suitable option presents itself, we are more likely to pick it up.

Clearly, it is not great to be confused all the time. But neither is there any cause for concern when confusion reigns. My training taught me that there is little point in focusing on how things might happen. Do that and you may miss something important. Focus on the goal, be open to all possibilities and know that you are okay where you are.

Related post: The ‘How’ is Unimportant

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