Feeling Confused? That’s the first step in learning something new

…I’m walking the airport back and forth. No signs. Instructed by the airport workers, where to go, I still go back and forth, depending on who I talk to.  (it’s not a dream, it’s the Schiphole) 

…I’m staring at a wordpress plug-in. I’m pretty sure there is steam coming from my ears from my overworked brain. 

And these are pretty inconsequential and easy examples.

Nobody… Nobody likes to be confused. 

But confusion is a part of life. When we start learning something new…

…when  life gives us a problem we never dealt with before: we get confused. Since our brain loves patterns, here, the pattern of “how things are supposed to be” is broken. How do we work around it? 

Here is what I realized – that neutralizes a state of confusion for me: 

Confusion is often the first step in learning something new.

In other words, expect to be confused. 

And when you are in it – realize that unconsciously:

  • You may try to deny the experience as not real
  • You may deny the “information”
  • You will want to come back to what you used to.  We always search for confirmation of what we already know. 
  • You may experience other negative emotions on top of confusion: anger, frustration… which leads to irrational behavior, like yelling at people. (No, I have never done it, hahaha!)

Confusion is an opportunity to start believing something useful. 

A Fixed Mindset says  “I’m so confused!” ; and refuses to learn. “I’m confused” is a dead-end thought. Nothing happens.  

A Growth Mindset says  “It’s something new. It makes no sense. But I can learn about it.  I need to open my mind, senses and be alert, to sort out the information and learn what I need to.” 

Confusion is the first step in learning anything new.

Driving at night in a new town. 

Learning a new language. 

Starting a new job. 

Reading instructions.

Knitting… Taxes… Quantum physics. 

Confusion in learning is a reason to celebrate: you just stepped out of your familiarity zone. 

You started expanding. 

You are testing your limits. And… the limits expand.


People often use hypnosis to learn something new: to rehearse new ways thinking and behavior in their mind: as a person, they aspire to become.  For example public speaking may be confusing, because you are required to act in a way that is not learned yet. Reacting in a calm way to something that scared you before – is a new behavior you may not know HOW to do yet. Working efficiently while you feel anxious may be confusing, as you want to run away from the work and numb yourself with food. New skills require a new mind. 

Here is a deeper article on how confusion works (also in hypnosis) from Mark Tyrrell