what to do when you feel totally lost and confused

So. You landed here because you’re feeling lost and confused, and you’d like some concrete help with shifting and transforming that. Since 2006, I’ve helped more than a few people with that feeling of “lost and confused,” helping them to shift from confused, to clarity.

Lost and Confused: Help is Here

First, when you’re feeling lost and confused, do this: don’t do anything.

Not doing something when you feel lost and confused is a healthy action. Most of us go back and forth between totally hiding out from our problems at one extreme, and at the other, pushing-pushing-pushing to try to get life to be better (and that’s perfectionism, which is exhausting).

So first, if you’re feeling lost and confused, stop and slow down.

It’s going to be okay. This becomes your mantra when the lost and confused sort of anxiety is nipping at your heels.

Second, you decide that It’s time to look at the hard stuff. This website isn’t called “Your Courageous Life,” for nothing. I want to help you look straight-on at the things that are difficult to be with, and part of that means getting real about what it is that you want to change.

That’s why I offer the free Shift Plan to all Your Courageous Life subscribers (click the image below to be taken to the sign-up page).

Third, after you’ve downloaded and used the Shift Plan, I’m guessing that you’ll have some ideas about what it is that you want to shift or change–and the next question will be how to create a life where you feel courageous enough, on a regular basis, to start making changes. How will cultivate courage, boldness, bravery? How will you stay on-course?

This is where creating a regular habit of courage, a courageous response to that old feeling of lost and confused instead of a fear-based response, comes in. I created the Courageous Living Program, based on the principle that you can learn courageous behaviors and make them an everyday part of your life.

Courage isn’t what you are; it’s what you choose to practice. You use this program daily, for 90 days, and that’s how you cultivate courage, boldness, bravery–and stay focused on your deepest priorities.

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Wait–Why am I feeling this way?

We grow. We change. We risk. We dare. We get afraid.
Lather, rinse, repeat.

That’s why, sometimes, we feel lost and confused. We run up against our fear, but we aren’t sure what to do, at which point we feel these distinctly uncomfortable feelings.

The “Why” isn’t as important as figuring out how to shift. As you shift, as you start doing the work to create a more courageous life so that courage can become a habit, and instead of trying to figure out the “why” you start going…

I’m feeling something uncomfortable. Where can I be more courageous?

That’s a far more helpful thing to ask. The truth is, anyone who’s being really honest will tell you that they, too, feel that confusion, sometimes. I certainly do! It’s a normal part of taking risks and stretching to dream bigger.

The difference with resources such as the Shift Plan is that instead of seeing tough times as barriers to the life you want, you work through them and get to the other side of them.

Lost and Confused: The Recap

You feel lost and confused.
Instead of thinking something is wrong with you, you decide to pause. Slow down.
You start tasking the hard questions: What do I really want? What needs to shift?
You start thinking about how to cultivate courage and a bolder way of responding to life’s challenges.
You see that courage isn’t something you’re born with; its a series of choices you make, until courage becomes a habit.
As life’s challenges arrive, you stop asking “Why am I feeling lost and confused?” and start asking “What would I like to shift?”

Sending you a lot of love, as you take these steps. Making these choices isn’t easy, but it is worth it.

The courage to stop making excuses

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At some point, your desire to create something must become greater than the desire to make excuses. This has to become a life-altering, no-going-back, holy shit change in your orientation to your entire life. You have to know how to stop making excuses.

Your desire to create must become bigger than your desire to make excuses.

When you desire making excuses, life is all about short-term gains. Avoiding the hard conversations. Wiggling out on making the tough calls. Not needing to admit to mistakes. Getting the little trinket or the high-thread-count sheets, as a salve for some other disappointment.

When your desire to create something becomes greater than the excuses, those short-term gains start to feel empty in comparison to what’s possible, long-term.

And in-between these two places, there is wide open space and a yawning gap of fear.

There is Never Enough Time or Money

When the desire to make excuses is greater, it seems logical that there’s not enough time or money to [insert desired life experience].

Truth: There’s never enough time. We’d always like more.

Truth: There’s never enough money. More would always be helpful.

You know in your soul, when you truly want something. And if you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it.

There is No Right Time

When the desire to make excuses is greater, the somatic experience of fear in the body can have you thinking that yeah, you want that life, but you’re waiting for the “right time.”

There is no right time. Not really. All the variables could be lined up and then something unforeseen could happen that tips things in the wrong direction. And, just as often, someone decides to do something brazen with her life at just the moment when everyone said that it would fail, and it doesn’t.

The timing isn’t what has to be right. What has to be right is that you will not, under any circumstances, resist the call of what you know you long for.

Also, you don’t have as much time as you think you do.

In Ten Years…You’ll Be Ten Years Older

You’re too old? It’ll take too long to create what you want? Well, you know, maybe it will take ten years for you to get there—but in ten years, you’ll be ten years older.

Do you want to be ten years older, having dedicated a decade to what you really want?

Or do you want to be ten years older, having numbed out with piss-poor substitutes?

Who do YOU want to be?

No, Substitutes are Not Good Enough

So what you’ve got now is basically workable, so you should be happy with that? Um, no.

Nearly a decade ago, I realized that I was in a salaried teaching job that had all sorts of great selling points. Summers off. No cubicle. No boss monitoring my every move. I could choose what books I taught the students and create my own curriculum. Health insurance. A good salary.

It was basically workable.

But the thing is, I’m not here to live a “basically workable” life. I’m here to live my courageous life. I want to wake up in the morning feeling 100% fully-alive, not “basically workable.”

Here’s what I also know about “basically workable:” The things that I didn’t like about that job? They drove me crazy. They drove me so crazy that by Saturday night, I’d feel my mood drop because tomorrow was Sunday, and Sunday was the day before Monday—and Monday, I had to go to the job that was “basically workable.”

Know Your Reasons

If you’re currently not doing something that some small part of you wants to do, yearns to do, always perks up when she thinks about doing it, know why.

Be very clear that the reason why you aren’t taking steps towards that dream have nothing to do with lack of time, or lack of money, or not right timing, or because “basically workable” is such an alluring life proposition.

Know that the reason why you’re choosing the excuses over the desire to create is that you’re afraid.

Let me tell you, I love you for that. I get afraid, too. I catch myself making the same excuses about money and time, too. I coast on “basically workable” sometimes, too.

I have no interest in putting you down or shaming you for being afraid. This is not a “kick in the ass” for you to start going after what you want.

This is the call to get present to what you do, and why you do it. Get present to your choices. Get present to the way you reason things out in your head.

In the same way that I love you enough that I’d never want to shame you for your fear, I love you enough that I’d never want to not speak the truth, all to spare you some discomfort.

This is the truth: your life is important, and your dreams matter, and when you routinely make excuses that keep you from living your courageous life, you sell yourself and the rest of us short.

That’s uncomfortable for all of us to get present to, me included.

My hope is that if you recognize yourself in these words, you’ll get up from the computer or put down the device in your hand. My hope is that you’ll say, “I’m not waiting another minute.” My hope is that you’ll write down, hands shaking, the truth-truth-truth of what you really want. My hope is that you’ll decide that even if all of the odds appear to be against you, you’ll trust that the world—that we—are rooting for you to win.

My hope is that knowing that, you’ll get out there and do something with your courageous life.

show them your cracks

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“There is a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.” –Leonard Cohen

When I say “show them your cracks” I’m suggesting that you show people your vulnerable spaces where you don’t have everything together.

“Sounds good, Kate,” you might be thinking. “But I’ve done that before, and it didn’t so go well.”

When you decide to show them your cracks, here are some common responses:

Sometimes the response is advice-giving (“She’s got a crack! Let’s fix it!”).
Sometimes the response is silence (“She’s got a crack! Ugh, I don’t want to be around that.”).
Sometimes the response is one of those really concerned looks where you can tell the person is thinking something, but holding themselves back from saying it (“She’s got a crack? The life coach? Um, she sounds like she’s having a really hard time and I don’t eeeeeeven know what to do with that”).

If you are someone who makes it a habit of showing the places where you are uncertain, or where you have fear, this so breaks the mold that it’s unusual. People don’t always know what to do with this.

My work isn’t about becoming fearless (I think that fearless is the new perfectionism). Like you and every other human being on the planet, I experience doubt, worry, nervousness, anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration, resentment. 


The courage is the willingness to be open about imperfection. Show them your cracks, even though they might not respond well.

How do you respond?

How do you respond when people tell you about their cracks, their imperfections?

People who are inclined to give advice usually are only hoping to be helpful. The shadow of that is sometimes that they’re distancing themselves by trying to remain “above” the problem.

People who distance themselves are scared that simply by being around someone else who is walking through a life challenge, they, too, will “catch” that challenge, like a virus.

Others are disappointed; perhaps secretly hoping that someone else had it all figured out. No more pedestal.

And, sadly, there are others who will feel a delighted glee at someone else’s admission of struggle.

The response of others when you show them your imperfections will tell you a lot about who they are and what they fear.

It isn’t really about you.

We need more people talking about the places where they feel busted-up. And yeah, we also need more people who roll up their sleeves and move beyond diarist admissions of suffering.

But more than anything, when people show up with their cracks, they’re showing up as their entire selves. That’s worth something.We owe it to the people who show up to not pathologize their emotions.

You can fear things. This doesn’t make you dangerous. It makes you real.

If you want to live as a whole person, you’re going to have to be willing to not shut down anything, including the stuff that’s hard to be with.

It’s not easy, to live as a whole person.

But it’s definitely not easy to live as a person who’s shut down, or mired in doubt, or numbed out, either. It’s not easy to live wondering whether everyone would leave if they saw everything that you are.

Show people your cracks. Choose whole. Choose real, over fear.