Relaxing with your Inner Tugs-of-War: Understanding the Rhythm of Confusion and Clarity


The Problem:

We all want to feel we understand—our emotions, the situations that challenge us, other people’s decisions, the whole of life itself. And to feel we understand, we require a sense of clarity. So, when confusion arises, most of us move with great haste to get rid of it, as quickly as possible.

When confusion is caused by external forces—such as disorder or chaos or disaster in the environment—we can at least move to correct the situation, whether we understand how it came to be, or not.

However, when confusion arrives as emotional turmoil, we can feel muddled, uncertain, helpless, and disoriented, often resulting in a sense of paralysis.

Clouds and Lamp PostWhen the confusion is mental, we may feel puzzled, mystified, perplexed, or bewildered, and reach out to logic to help us make some sense of it all.

Regardless of the context in which it appears, or what we label the experience, almost everyone displays an aversion to confusion. Thus, like throwing a pebble in a pond and watching the effect of that action ripple over the water, our scurrying to get rid of confusion can disrupt any clarity that might be readying itself to arise.

On the other hand, when we hold on to clarity because we can’t bear to face the possibility that we don’t really understand, we may find ourselves continually demanding a non-cluttered, unambiguous, and perpetually ordered world.

Whether we call this demand for clarity a request for precision, astuteness, intelligence, brains or just plain simplicity, clarity must be free to shift and reshape itself around the situations and circumstances life brings our way. Clarity that is unable to grow and change solidifies into a concrete belief that then holds court as if it were a final truth.

The Remedy:

The easiest way to manage this perceived inner tug-of-war between clarity and confusion is to approach it as the natural interaction between the two aspects of understanding.

In order for your understandings to continue expanding, growing, and illuminating more insights about life, they must change. For them to change, they must shift. And while they are shifting, you will experience confusion. It may only be moments, or it may last as long as days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years.

When you perceive understanding as the interdependence of confusion and clarity, you can relax in the presence of both, knowing neither is going to be your permanent guest. And out of this interaction between clarity and confusion will emerge a fresh understanding able to guide you to the “right action” for the current moment or situation that has come your way.

Let me know what you think. Would love to hear your experience.

Much love,


About the Author

Ragini MichaelsRagini Elizabeth Michaels is an Author, Therapist, and Trainer of Communication and Modeling Skills, specializing in Behavioral Change. She has gained international recognition for her work and her reputation as a superb teacher, presenter, and the pioneering originator of Facticity® and Paradox Management.View all posts by Ragini Michaels →

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