Each day we are faced with choices, from the trivial ‘what to wear’; to the significant ‘Should I stay in this job’. Occasionally these can be profound: ‘Should I end my relationship? Should my father go into a home? Should I have that operation? Should I ‘come out?’.
The next step, change, decisions or just ‘doing something about it’ can feel overwhelming. Particularly if the choices feel significant perhaps not just for ourselves but for others too.
In reality, we often are less confused about what to do than fearful of the consequences of doing it.
Going back to the profound choices above, the real issues might be ‘Will I be on my own forever? Am I letting him down? What if I don’t survive? Will my family reject me?’
Choices lead to change and change can lead us to unknown territory. Writer Henry Miller puts it thus: “Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not yet understood.”
Is fear of the unknown what lies behind indecision? And if it’s unknown what can inform us of the path we should take?
At the heart of all uncertainty are feelings and not just fear. Excitement, guilt, shame, hope. Our aspirational and moral compasses. Confusion is not the problem but a necessary prerequisite for change. It is a symptom of our autonomy. As Tom Peters says “If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.”
Another choice that can add to the mix is ‘Who can I talk to?’ In most cases we are not far from a supportive ear, but when we are worried about how our thinking might be received, finding someone less supportive and more objective can help. Someone less invested in the outcome of our dilemmas.
This could be therapy where there are parallels too. Questions lead to insight and though at times uncomfortable, the feelings they raise inform us of the choices we need to make. Through a filter of internet and consequences we come to a conclusion. Whether we act on that or not is a different matter reflecting where we prioritise ourselves in the lives we are experiencing.
D H Lawerence was unambiguous in his advice on this complex process suggesting “Try to find your deepest issue in every confusion and abide by that.”