Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
Feeling Confused: A Guide To Your Emotions
Published Mar 9th, 2021 & updated on Dec 7th, 2021
Feeling confused is more than just looking at a math problem and not knowing how the hell to solve it (but math is hard, so we totally get that feeling too)! We might feel confused about how we feel, about something that someone has said to us, or an event in our lives. We might replay these events over and over in our minds: Why didn’t I get that promotion? What did they mean by that comment? Why did they ghost me when I reached out?
To fill in the gaps, we might come up with our answers. And usually, we assume the worst! We automatically feel that we have done something wrong, even though we’re probably just overthinking it. Or maybe we’re struggling to come to a big decision because we just. don’t. know. what. to. do!
Looking for answers and obsessing over all of the possibilities is totally common. We all do it, so don’t feel like you’re alone here. Feeling confused, lost or uncertain are all a part of being human. So let’s dive thru feeling confused and how you can navigate this tricky emotion!
A Deeper Look At Feeling Confused
What does it really mean to feel confused? Hey, that’s a great question! APA Dictionary defines confusion as: “n. a mental disturbance characterized by bewilderment, inability to think clearly or act decisively, and disorientation for time, place and person.” Okay, that last part? Those are extreme cases of confusion (not knowing who you are, or where you are). So we’re gonna focus more on feeling confused about your feelings and struggling to make decisions. That’s probably why you’re here!
Let’s look at a possible scenario that could leave you feeling confused. Maybe you’ve gone out on a few dates with someone, and you both really hit it off from the start. They text you 24/7 and you have great conversations. You start to get really close because you have so much in common, lots to talk about and overall, you just click. It seems like you’re getting closer the more time you spend together and you start to see the relationship becoming more official.
But then: plot twist. They end things suddenly. It could be a brief convo, or they do the worst possible thing by totally ghosting you. This completely shocks you and leaves you feeling not only rejected, but confused as hell. Things were going so great, weren’t they? Or were you misreading everything that happened?! Without proper closure, you just feel totally lost about how to move on.
We can also feel a lot of confusion when we have a big decision to make. You might have been accepted to a few different colleges, but you’re unsure which to choose because they’re all so great. Maybe one is closer to home and your family, so it would be nice to have their support. But another school could be in your dream city, plus their program is widely renowned. You feel confused because your emotions are pulling you into opposite directions: staying close to what you know, or branching out. How the hell are you supposed to decide?!
We get it, it’s hard to go through times of confusion. You might feel overwhelmed, anxious and like you can’t focus on one thing. Pause! Take a deep breath. It’s gonna be okay, and you will get through this. Start by focusing on what you DO know and feel sure about. Be patient with yourself. It might take some time, but no matter what, you can get through this.
How Feeling Confused Shows Up Mentally
Our mental state can definitely be affected when we feel confused. Here are a few symptoms you might experience when you’re going through confusion:
– Difficulty concentrating or feeling unfocused
– Brain fog or feeling groggy
– Becoming irritabile or moody for no reason
In more extreme cases, confusion can include mumbling or saying things that don’t make any sense, not recognizing where you are, forgetting things easily, or seeing things that are not there. This can happen when you feel overtired, have difficulty sleeping at night, or have other medical conditions.
Obviously, these are scary things to experience and should be taken very seriously! Conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are linked to feelings of confusion. It’s important to see medical attention if these symptoms persist and start to affect your daily life.
How Feeling Confused Shows Up Physically
Just like it affects your mental wellbeing, confusion also affects your physical health. Confusion can be linked to the following symptoms in your body:
– Low blood sugar
– Low sodium
– Low calcium
Although associated with feeling confused, these symptoms could also be caused by alcohol or drug abuse, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Certain medications can also have confusion listed as a side effect. If you experience any combination of these signs for a prolonged amount of time, it’s important to seek medical attention! Listen to your body, always.
5 Ways To Cope With Feeling Confused
When we feel confused, it can also make us feel really lost and scared. We might not know what to do next! But that’s why we’re here to help you out. Here are some coping strategies to try out whenever you’re feeling confused:
1. Reach Out For Support
You don’t have to deal with this emotion all on your own. Having someone be there for us by listening, validating our feelings and providing some advice when we ask for it can be really helpful when working through confusion. So reach out to someone trustworthy who will be the pillar of support you need, whether it’s your partner, friend or family member. You are not alone!
2. 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise
When you’re dealing with confusion, this is a great method for clearing your head and improving focus. Engage all five senses and mindfully notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Go in any order that makes sense for you and your current situation – no pressure!
There’s nothing quite like pouring out all of your emotions onto a page, we tell ya! Try writing down how you feel, where you think these feelings are coming from and explore those thoughts. This is also a helpful practice for reframing any negative thoughts you’re experiencing. Journaling gives you tons of clarity, to say the least! Releasing those feelings can help you move forward with a lot more perspective than before.
4. Engage In Compassionate Self Talk
Confusion can make us question and doubt ourselves. We might start to criticize and speak negatively about ourselves because we feel insecure. Try to turn those thoughts around by practicing some compassionate dialogue instead! Say out loud to yourself: Everyone feels lost sometimes. I’m not the only one. I’m only human!
5. Give Yourself A Pep Talk
Sometimes, we gotta give ourselves a little pep talk in order to turn those negative thoughts around. Try saying some encouraging phrases to yourself out loud: I feel confused right now but that’s okay. I’ve dealt with this feeling before and I can do it again. I know who I am!
Okayyy, that’s all we have for now! Hopefully you find these tips helpful and feel less alone as you navigate this confusing emotion. Remember: we are rooting for you!