How to Move Past Feeling Confused and Start Taking Action

Stars at night

Less than 24 hours ago, I had no idea what I was going to write about. I felt unmotivated, tired, and empty. I had nothing worthy of sharing.

I looked into my ideas folder and scanned through topics. Nothing jumped out at me.

Usually when I meditate I ask that an idea come to me, even if it’s different from what I initially started with.

Most of the time I feel confident about my choice. Every now and then a new idea pops up and I go with it—but not yesterday.

There was nothing. I felt frustrated and confused. I have so many things I want to do and share; yet here I was, not being able to come up with one thought that I can bring to form.

I started a blank document on my text editor and started firing up any word that came to mind. I didn’t care what it was as long as my fingers were moving and I was typing. The thoughts that popped up were something like this:

Time for action … Springing to action … Sweep your own door … When confusion takes over.

I liked the idea of talking about confusion, as it was the closest to how I was feeling.

Then the idea started to take shape: write about feeling empty of ideas to share.

  • How can we move from feeling that we’ve got nothing?
  • How can we uncover the hidden genius within all of us?
  • Where do we look for inspiration?

To answer the questions above and more, I started with exploring the underlying reasons behind the feelings.

Why do we feel confused?

I don’t know if there is an answer to confusion other than clarity. But like motivation, clarity ebbs and flows. We can’t expect to be clear about everything all the time.

What won’t give you clarity

I’ve explored the thoughts below as I was trying to clear the fog of confusion and come up with a good idea.

Ability and desire. If we can’t do something, we will feel confused about it. So the opposite must be true. If we know what we’re doing and we really want to do it, then we should be able to move forward without confusion.

I am clear about my desire to write and feel motivated to do it. And I can write. But I still felt confused.

So in this case clarity does not necessarily come from wanting to do something and knowing how to do it.

Digging our brains out. The more you chase clarity, the more elusive it gets. I felt so frustrated when I tried to squeeze anything out of my brain.

What happened was the opposite: I felt more confused and resistance kicked in. Also it’s not a good idea to judge ourselves for not being able to come up with an idea on demand.

A gentle nudge to get started works best.

Instead of forcing yourself, commit to one very tiny step and do it with love and calmness. Confusion can create stress, which will block you more. So it’s best to start (almost without thinking) with a small action step.

Looking for outer inspiration. I tried to look at pictures, articles and quotes in the hopes of having an inspiring thought. It didn’t work. Instead I felt more under pressure to start something.

Looking for ideas and inspiration is helpful when we’re not under the influence of confusion and frustration. We will be more open to seeing the beauty and elegance of expression out there.

What can you do to move past confusion?

Consider the steps below if you’re dealing with confusion and frustration.

1. Accept the feeling.

“Confusion is the welcome mat at the door of creativity.” ~Michael J. Gelb

We will feel confused even about things we really want to do every now and then. Fighting the feeling and trying to force ourselves out of it will only aggravate the problem.

When we accept the feeling, we calm down a bit and that allows our inner inspiration to come up—at its own pace.

2. Start with a very small basic step (blank page).

In my case it was a blank text editor page. But it can be anything. If you want to exercise and don’t know where to start, just put your shoes on. It shouldn’t take you more than a minute to do the first step.

3. Do the first thing that comes to mind.

I started typing the ideas that came up. If you put your shoes on, the next thing might be to walk out the door. Or to get on your treadmill, or to get in the car and go to the gym.

4. Don’t prematurely think about what’s next.

You don’t need to think about what’s going to happen next till you get there. In my case, I don’t need to know where I’m going with the sentence—I just keep typing.

If you go outside to walk, just walk. If you get on the treadmill, just move. If you go to the gym, just get yourself in the door.

5. Do another small thing that comes to mind after step 3.

Once I started with one sentence, I got another one and another one.

In the example of exercise, you can take a few more steps and then a few more steps as you walk. If you have entered the gym, look around and see what feels right to you at the moment. Maybe you can get on an exercise bike, or join a yoga class that just started and it appeals to you at the moment. Go with whatever comes up.

6. Repeat step 5 many times over. This is where you start gaining clarity about what you want to get done. In my case, I started writing more and more and moving sentences around to form paragraphs.

If you’re working out, just keep walking, or running or doing yoga, one minute at a time.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” ~Walter Elliott

7. Stop when it feels right.

As I continued to write, I didn’t commit to a certain outline or length. I kept going till it felt right for me.

The same goes for our exercise example. Stop when you feel you’ve gotten the movement you need. If you don’t know for sure, do a few more minutes. Your body will tell you.

Just like we trusted and allowed whatever comes up to guide us, we can continue to trust that we will know when to stop.

Now it’s time to celebrate and give thanks.

If you managed to do something, no matter how small it feels, remember it’s better than nothing. Stop and reflect on what you did and savor the joy that comes from doing something that’s important to you.

Every little action counts and every result matters. Practice makes improvement and in this case, makes us better at recognizing and dealing with confusion.

We can’t be certain and clear all the time. Confusion is part of the ups and downs of life. The main thing is not to give up and stop trying.

“Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble upon something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.” ~Charles F. Kettering

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