Healing practices for confusion

My husband Tino, who’s a lucid dreamer, found the perfect question for confusion in a dream, where he heard this saying: “Intention ends all ambiguity.” Since then, if either of us drops into confusion about some decision, project, or relationship, we ask each other “What’s your intention?”

This question usually illuminates the struggles and difficulties we face — and the reason our confusion showed up in the first place. From this place, we can thank our confusion for stopping us, because we always find something seriously off in our situation, our behavior, or our intentions.

Knowing our intentions does end our ambiguity, and the saying is just as true if you say it backward: Ambiguity ends all intention. Many thanks to Tino and the dream realm; that’s a definite keeper!

A healing practice for confusion about choices

Intention ends all ambiguity — and the opposite is also true; Ambiguity ends all intention. When you know what your intentions are, you can often identify the situations your confusion is responding to.

The practice for confusion about choices is very simple in theory, but it’s sometimes difficult in reality. You simply ask yourself what your intention is – not which direction you should go, what choice you should make, or what thing you should do, but what your intention is.

Confusion stops you when you’re overwhelmed, or when your fear is dealing with too much input. Confusion also steps forward when there’s too much going on, and your anxiety has too much to plan for and process. Confusion arises to give you a break from the too-muchness.

In most cases, confusion arises to drape a gauzy fog over you when your situation isn’t compatible with who, what, or where you really want to be. Pushing forward from a confused state will almost certainly take you off your path; therefore, your confusion acts as an important emotional rest stop.

If you thoughtlessly push ahead, you’ll almost certainly move in an unhelpful direction, but if you can stop yourself and question your situation and your intentions, you’ll be able to reassess your true needs.

When you can do this, you’ll often realize (sometimes with a start, sometimes with a thud) why you’ve been unable to decide or act.

When you know your intentions, you’ll understand your confusion

Here’s an example of this practice: Let’s say you’re trying to decide between two jobs, but you absolutely can’t.

If you push forward and force yourself to decide, you’ll probably become more and more conflicted until you drop into a serious confusion. Then, you’ll almost certainly make a decision you’ll never feel comfortable about (but at least you decided – right?).

However, if you can stop yourself and question your intentions, you may find that both jobs have serious and even insurmountable problems – and that the best decision might be to walk away from both of them.

This can be a distressing discovery, especially if you’ve got to get a job right now because the rent is due.

However, if you’re dedicated to living a full and authentic life, you’ll much prefer scrambling for the rent this month and refocusing your job search over ignoring your intuition and possibly selling your soul or losing your vision. We all know people who took an ill-advised job just to pay the rent, and are still working there – miserable and stuck – fourteen years later.

Your confusion stops you for a reason!

The questions for confusion are:

How can I welcome not-knowing and not-doing?

What is my intention?

Take the time to rest in confusion’s soft and gauzy awareness, and in its not-knowing and not-doing. There are many times when the genius of confusion can help you take a breather and reassess everything so that you can move forward with clearer intentions.

But sometimes, questioning your intentions doesn’t get you to the crux of your confusion.

In these cases, I’ve found that an elemental approach can be useful, because it can help you communicate with different aspects of yourself and discover if you’ve got an internal conflict that’s contributing to your confusion.

It’s elemental, my dear: a deeper practice for confusion about choices

In this elemental approach, the fire element is your visionary (or spiritual) capacity, the air element is your intellect, the water element is your emotions, and the earth element is your physical body. I’ll use a personal example to illustrate this approach:

I was once offered a teaching gig on a cruise ship, which is not the way I want to work with people. However, I was absolutely doubled over with confusion about the gig. I questioned my intentions and tried to get focused, but the confusion increased and I didn’t know what to do.

Finally, I woke up enough to organize my thoughts, and I asked each of my elements if they wanted to take the job.

My fiery vision told me that this was not the image I held for my teaching career, so, no, it didn’t want the job.

My airy intellect questioned the logic of doing something so clearly against my long-term vision and my better judgment, so it didn’t want the job either.

My watery emotions were very clear – this job held no interest for them whatsoever.

But my earthy body wanted to go on the cruise with a yearning that was flagrant! This was why I had dropped into such confusion; I had a profound conflict inside myself.

My work then was to understand why I had a bodily lust for the cruise when no other part of me was interested at all (I desperately needed a vacation at the time), and to find better ways meet my needs.

So I said no to the cruise and took some time off, took hot baths, went to the river, and scheduled some massages, which made me very happy.

Please note that I didn’t punish myself or ignore my bodily needs – nor did I allow any other part of myself to do so. My bodily needs were absolutely valid, but there were far better ways to meet my needs than teaching on that cruise.

Honor the genius of your confusion

When you’re confused, it’s very important to understand that something aware inside you (sometimes very deep inside you) is actually working on your behalf. There is true genius in confusion.

If you can stop yourself and reassess your position when your confusion arises, you’ll be able to connect to its deep awareness and genius and find your way back to the center of your authentic whole life.

Confusion is not the problem – it’s just a messenger. So stop yourself and listen closely to its message.

After you take the rest it provides, your confusion will help you find your focus, your insight, and your integrity once again.

Thank you, confusion! Your ingenuity is marvelous, and the rest stop you provide is vital.


5 Responses

  1. Danielle
    | Reply

    Do you have an article about your different elemental intelligences? I am intrigued!

    • Karla McLaren
      | Reply

      I’m not sure! My Dynamic Emotional Integration colleague Sherry Olander does a lot on the elements. I’ll ask her!

    • Karla McLaren
      | Reply

      Hello Danielle,

      Sherry didn’t have an article, but the new book has a lot on the elements! It’s here: https://karlamclaren.com/the-language-of-emotions-book/

  2. Maria
    | Reply

    For the last 3 years I have been living between Spain and Seattle. Can’t figure where I should live seeing pros-cons in both places. While it’s sort of ok, not knowing, pressure is mounting as I am 68 and without a nest. What will be the gift of confusion? How to set the intention?
    With Gratitude.

    • Karla McLaren
      | Reply

      Hello Maria. What a nice thing to have positive choices in both directions, and at the same time, need to choose one.

      In the book, I talk about doing a confusion practice with the elements (Body, Emotions, Intellect, and Vision), and it’s on pages 248 to 250. It may be helpful!

      As someone in my 60s, however, I’m finding that my ideal living locations now contain easy access to health care! We were thinking of moving to a more rural location, but then found that we would need to be helicoptered out to a hospital if we were injured. Nope!

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