How to Navigate Confusion in Recovery

Our recovery can be an immensely confusing time in our lives, when we’re coming out of the dark cloud of addictive dependence but perhaps not feeling totally confident yet in our sobriety. We feel confused as to what path we should take in life, what our purpose is, and where we’re headed. We feel confusion around all of the pain we’ve already experienced, and we question why we had to go through the struggles we did. We have a hard time making sense of the many traumas and losses we’ve sustained. Confusion can make us feel completely lost and without direction or meaning. We can feel deeply afraid. We fear the uncertainty of the future we can’t predict or control. We fear relapsing and falling back into old destructive, painful patterns. We fear we won’t be able to reach our goals in life or find happiness. We feel confused about what our goals even are, how to find peace, or what happiness means for us. Confusion can be debilitating and consuming, leaving us feeling totally paralyzed by our many fears. We feel stuck, desperately not wanting to go backwards but also not knowing how to move forward. When we can take the time to learn how to navigate our confusion when in recovery, we can bring ourselves more peace and more calm as we work towards our goals. 

Our instinctive response to feeling confused is often to panic. We want to feel clear, stable and sure. The uncertainty we feel is overwhelming and can be terrifying. We want the confusion to go away, so we might try to rush ourselves to find solutions to problems we’re still trying to wrap our brains around. We might grow increasingly impatient and frustrated with ourselves that we haven’t resolved our confusion and figured things out for ourselves. We might feel stressed out, anxious and overwhelmed. Our confusion can worsen our depression and other mental health issues. It can drive us to relapse, since we often would rather distract ourselves from the difficulty of confusion and the hopelessness that can come with it. We want to get to the point where we can see our confusion for what it is, a challenge we can overcome, and not allow it to derail our progress or impede our forward momentum in recovery.

When we feel confused, we often will obsess, dwell and overthink, causing ourselves more angst and turmoil. We’ll be so consumed with worry that we pile additional layers of issues and problems to solve on top of the already confusing situations we’re dealing with. We tend to make our confusion worse with how we handle it. Our tendencies to panic, to react strongly, and to overthink usually compound our confusion, making it even harder for us to find the solutions to the problems at hand. We want to approach our confusion with calm rather than panic, so that we can get to a place of clarity and insight. In this place, solutions are able to come to us. When we’re engaging our confusion and making it worse for ourselves, energetically we’re aligning ourselves with the problem, not the solution. We can find resolutions, and receive helpful guidance, revelations and insight, when we try to find peace and clarity within ourselves. Sometimes this means creating distance between ourselves and the problem we’re confused about. When we overthink, we’re creating more confusion. We might need to remove ourselves from the situation, give ourselves room to breathe, and allow ourselves time and space to allow the answers to flow to us more easily.

One way to help ourselves navigate confusion is to use writing as a therapeutic tool for release and expression. When we write out all the things we’re confused about, the simple act of writing can help us process our thoughts, organize them and make more sense of them. We can often find more clarity and receive answers just by writing. When all of our many thoughts are allowed to replay in our minds and gain traction, they can become more confusing, more painful and more overwhelming. The process of writing out what we’re confused about can help us put a stop to the incessant repetition of our difficult thoughts. It can allow us to see visually what we’re so confused about, rather than feeling so overwhelmed by it all internally, and sometimes seeing it in writing can provide us with the clarity we need to make sense of it all. 

Another helpful tool for navigating confusion, along with all of our other difficult emotions, is meditation. When we meditate, we calm our mind and body’s stress responses. We’re able to respond to confusion more mindfully, with more presence and peace. We’re able to hold onto our faith that we’ll be able to work things out for ourselves. We’re able to be more hopeful and optimistic and not let our confusion overtake us. Meditation can allow us to separate ourselves from the confusion, meaning we can find peace even when problems still aren’t resolved. This is an incredibly helpful skill to have, to be able to hold onto our joy and our sense of inner peace, even when things are confusing and difficult.

Confusion is a normal part of recovery, and there are so many things we might find ourselves feeling stressed out by and confused about. When we learn how to navigate our confusion in healthy ways, it becomes yet another challenge we can rise to meet and then overcome, rather than a trigger for relapse or a force that can take us down in our recovery. 

The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and the feelings of hopelessness and disconnection that come with it. We’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.