The other night, an amazing teacher once again shared a comment that would put a great deal of my past and present struggles into a positive perspective. While learning about ‘the mind’, she stated that, “confusion is present before wisdom can be born”. I had to repeat it in my head a few times, but wow did it ever make sense. Suddenly this phrase allowed me to recognize how much foresight I have gained by navigating through confusion; whether it be confusion in my life, or confusion in my mind. Furthermore, as I pondered this ‘Ah-ha moment’, I realized that my extreme circumstances of confusion launched me into a life filled with gratitude and love.
This lesson made me recall how when I was young, my parents tried to involve me in team sports, but I never really connected with the concept because I usually found the atmosphere confusing and overwhelming. Situations brimming with lack of organization required so much extra patience for me to focus in, that rather than having the action of the game bring me to exhaustion, my inner anxiety took my breath away. I liked to do my own thing. I equally disliked group projects in school, because I would get worried that my grade would suffer because of someone else’s laziness, causing our less than exceptional performance to be perceived as a disappointment. Wow, did I ever worry a lot!
But, like the rule abiding child I was, I would do as I was told, join the group with a smile, albeit fake, and pick up the slack when needed without a peep of a complaint. But as I got older something amazing happened! As I realized that it was necessary for me to learn how to thrive in confusion, I began to take small leaps of faith and see things beyond my narrow-minded view. Eventually, through my exposure to these uncomfortable emotions, I gained the wisdom to be able to excel in team environments. I learned the importance of professional delegation and embraced the opportunity to gather peer feedback. After all of those hours I spent taping bubble letters to bristol board with a partner who had no concept of symmetry, and lacked any internal sense of urgency before a due date, I learned how to be an awesome team player…who knew?
By being mindful in times of confusion, I gained a deeper insight into how I was projecting the emotion of disappointment onto every team environment, rather than examining my lack of evidence to possess such a general impression. And as years passed by, I learned how to explore my individual experiences with teamwork, and began to clearly see the positive outcomes they could produce.
Learning how to recognize the possibility of forthcoming wisdom is not an easy task; especially in a world permeated with confusion and chaos. But this insight all comes back to practicing mindfulness. Realizing that people and events we think cause us suffering, are in fact presenting us with the opportunity to gain deeper insight into our own mind’s misconceptions or points of contention we may have within ourselves, is a very precious gift. It may not be something we want to admit right away, but if we take the time to step back and reflect on the people and events which we perceive are causing us confusion, resentment, and eventually anger, we can learn that they are actually teaching us how to cultivate our happiness. Over time, I have learned how to consciously stop myself from quickly attaching a person or event to an unpleasant emotion, and examine where it is coming from inside myself. And by doing so, I am no longer depriving myself of the opportunity to heal from these situations, thus presenting me with the opportunity to truly feel what it is like to forgive and reflect inwardly, and develop the virtuous mind of love.
So today when you are presented with a moment of confusion or frustration, try to be mindful of it, and use it as an opportunity to gain inner wisdom. Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” Try to recognize that the confusing person or event your experiencing is not the cause of your emotion, but simply a condition. The emotion is coming from inside of you. Before reacting in anger, step away and see what wisdom and peace awaits you when you take responsibility for that feeling, rather than lay blame. You may not have a wise answer right away, but if you keep practicing mindfulness in times of confusion, you will be amazed at what life lesson you will learn.