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SITE: Sometimes Confusion Is A Good Thing
QUOTE: “If you can’t convince them, confuse them” ~ Harry S Truman
DEF of Confusion (C)
— Mentally disoriented or mixed up – the inability to make decisions clearly & quickly
— C is generated when the ego boundaries of another person are vague, not easily understood, or internally in conflict.
NOTE: These posts refer to C which is NOT caused by long-term severe mental illness or physical changes in the brain due to accident, aging, chemicals/medication, drug use or illness.
Important distinction – confusion is always a cognitive (mental) not an emotional issue. It’s about whether or not we can think clearly, based on what’s going on in our head or how someone else is presenting information. For ACoAs – overcoming life-long confusion is mainly about identifying & correcting cognitive distortions (CDs) / toxic beliefs, which lead to procrastination, self-doubt, perfectionism & self-hate! To do that we need to know enough about ourselves AND how the world really functions – to not blindly follow what our unhealthy family taught us, or what the WIC has come to believe because of it.
The opposite of confusion is Certainty, which is not the same as being rigid, dogmatic or opinionated.
Based on NLP, David Rock explains that there are 5 major goals of the human brain geared towards ‘maintaining’, ie. increasing positives and reducing negatives (SCARF model):
Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness & Fairness. (MORE….)
• Executive Coach Ed Batista comments that “The importance of certainty can considered a result of the brain’s effort to conserve energy, which derives from the limited capacity of the prefrontal cortex, the seat of executive function…. We resist mental effort around decision-making and impulse control because we’re preserving resources in case we need them more urgently in the next moment, and the same dynamic contributes to our resistance to uncertainty.” (CHART & info….)
Some causes of confusion
● Complex lifestyles – too much to do & not enough time, constant stress ….
● Denial, not wanting to admit & accept the way things really are (re. people, places,
things), & so need to use a variety of defenses to mask the truth
● Dysfunctional interactions, & Deliberately Distorted info – from media, politicians, advertising, cults, corporations …..
● Ignorance or Grandiosity – trying to do or figure out something without the proper or sufficient information
● Major changes (Recovery process, new work, moving, divorce…..) because we don’t know what’s ahead
● Misunderstanding & differences between countries, boss & workers, men & women, people speaking different languages…..
● Overwhelming amounts of information from too many different sources (especially for Introverts)
● Physical – such as addiction, anxiety, cognitive dementia, disabilities disorientation, fatigue, illness…. as well as from a variety of medications (More….) , DYSLEXIA (
Again, here we’re only concerned with the kind of confusion which comes from distorted ways people communicate with themselves or to others, with words & body language, either unconsciously or deliberately.
If someone says “I feel confused”, they’re being unclear. It sounds like they’re speaking about an emotion (I feel), but this ‘feel’ only refers to thinking. (See post: “Feelings aren’t facts”).
— The phrase actually means that the person can’t be sure what to think about something (I can’t figure out this jumble in my head) – often because of CDs, convoluted & conflicting beliefs, obsessions & toxic rules.
● We can also be (mentally) confused when we have several or conflicting emotions re. the same situation – happy, sad, lonely…. No one taught us (info = mental) that having + / – emotions at the same time is not unusual, & comes from the same or different ego states.
EXP: Parent – loving someone while being angry with them
Adult – being relieved someone’s gone / Child: (yet) missing them…..
So then it’s not one emotion or another, but may be 2 or more at the same time. Think in terms of layers – but rather coming from different levels of desire, experience, need or maturity. In any case, this is still a cognitive dilemma – a lack of information or self-knowledge. Having many differing emotions is not actually confusing, only what we’re believing or being limited in our understanding of human complexity.
Children want & NEED to understand what’s expected of them – how to behave, where the boundaries are, their chores, their place in the family & the world, how to deal with each other & outsiders…. They are particularly intuitive – being attuned to their environment, from great curiosity about everything, & the need to figure out what’s going on, so they know how to act & fit in. Clearly knowing these things allows children to act appropriately, which leads to staying connected & feeling safe, to mature & flourish based on what healthy adults can teach them.
BUT – If the messages kids receive are crazy, contradictory, garbled, incomplete…. there’s no way they can figure out:
— who they are (identity) and how to behave
— how to correctly follow the adults’ demands, expectations & rules
— know why they’re being punished or neglected
— what’s right & wrong, re. their own values or those in their world
— how to interact with others in a reasonable way (makes for isolation)
— when it’s safe to let go, not worry & just have fun
NEXT: ACoAs & Confusion (Part 2)