Why is understanding the world as a system important? Hm. Well, if you consider all that you know, feel, and see as unrelated, it feels precarious. Like we are sort of floating around, devoid of any relation to each other, and all that we see, feel, and know.
If we, however, consider the world, and all that we know, feel, and see as a connected system, it provides a grounding of sorts.
In From Confusion to Clarity Part 0: Change As A System of Related Parts, I write about considering confusion and clarity as part of a related system. And, then in From Confusion to Clarity Part 1: From Confusion to Clarity in 5 Simple Steps, I write about 5 steps you can take to move yourself from confusion to clarity.
Now let’s consider confusion and clarity as a system using the system we used to consider change. Ready? Let’s go.
First, let’s redefine our system of change, and the related parts. It looks like this.
Alright, now let’s take a look at confusion and clarity within this same system. It looks like this.
Alright, there we go. Now, as we did with change as a system of related parts, let’s go through each of these.
Order and Clarity
When things are ordered we feel a sense of clarity. When they are not, we don’t. What does it really mean to have clarity?
Let’s define clarity.
- the quality of being expressed clearly
- a lack of clarity in the law
- The brilliant clarity of his argument could not be disputed.AWL Collocations
- the ability to think about or understand something clearly
- clarity of thought/purpose/vision.
There we go.
Now, if the external world is occurring in a way that makes sense to us internally, we can say that we have some sense of clarity. And yes, clarity, like most things, lives along a continuum. Meaning that some people have more clarity, and some less.
There are, of course, other internal factors that contribute to our sense of clarity. What are those? How we eat and drink, and how we exercise and sleep are very important in the clarity department.
As we can see then, there are two ways to think about clarity and order. That which we see as ordered externally, and that which we feel as ordered internally.
Either way, when a change occurs externally or internally, it can disrupt our clarity, and cause disorder. What kind of change? Any change really. However, the larger the change is, the more disorder we will know, feel, and see. And, the more subtle the change, the less disorder.
Know that there is always change. Sometimes the change is so small we don’t actually notice it. However, when the change is large, like COVID-19, we definitely notice.
Disorder and Confusion
When there is a large change, there will be lots of disorder, both external and internal. The level of disorder and the confusion that follows will depend on your particular context. Meaning, how much you are affected by the change.
Now, let’s define confusion.
noun /kənˈfjuːʒn/ /kənˈfjuːʒn/
- [uncountable, countable] a state of not being certain about what is happening, what you should do, what something means, etc.
- The announcement caused a lot of confusion.
With a change like COVID-19 the level of external change for everyone has been high. However, the level of change still lives along a continuum. For instance, if you work in the medical field, your level of change is very high.
Likewise, if you are a small business owner, very high as well. Depends on what you do, where you live, and how much the change is impacting you and your life.
The higher the external change, the more disorder and confusion you may know, feel, and see. However, the level of disorder and confusion is directly correlated to the amount of internal disorder and confusion you feel.
If, for instance, you have high levels of resilience, you may feel less disorder and confusion than someone with lower levels of resilience.
Therefore, someone with higher levels of resilience will begin reordering their life and perspective more quickly than someone with lower levels. Important.
Because clarity and confusion are a relatable system, we know that disorder and confusion will eventually stabilize for everyone. Because human beings are resilient, we are always reordering that which we know to be true about the world, even when we are unaware of doing so.
Reorder and Translate
As we begin to reorder our perspective and lives, we essentially take the new information (due to the change we’ve experienced), and translate it into chunks of information that fit into our worldview.
We then assimilate the new information into what we know, feel, and see. We, in essence, make the change we’ve experienced, or are experiencing, “normal.”
Meaning that we shift what we know, feel, and see to ensure they are conducive to our new reality.
There is always the possibility of resistance. Of course, this also happens. Yet, to survive any change, we must, at some point, begin to reorder and translate our new reality into something we can understand. Something we can understand and ultimately thrive through.
Yet, like all concepts we’ve discussed, thriving also lives along a continuum. Meaning that some people will thrive more during change, and others less so.
There is also a correlation between thriving and resilience. Therefore, the higher your levels of resilience, the more likely you are to thrive during change.
And, guess what? Just as we reorder our internal and external realities to thrive during the present change, another change happens, and the confusion to clarity system begins anew again. Yep.
Again, with smaller changes, we may not be aware of traveling through the system from clarity to confusion, and back again. Depends on our level of awareness, how observant we are, and how sensitive we are to change.
Order and Clarity
Back in an ordered world, both externally and internally, we have more clarity. We know, feel, and see more clarity. We’ve done the work necessary, whether we are aware or not, of moving ourselves through a relatable system from clarity through confusion and back to clarity. Phew.
Imagine that this system happens over and over and over again. Again and again, all the time. Anytime we face a change, no matter how small or how large.
Of course, as was aforementioned, the larger the change, the more we are aware of moving from clarity through confusion, and back to clarity.
Why is it important to understand confusion and clarity as a relatable system?
Well, confusion can be scary. When COVID-19 began to take hold here locally, I was very confused. I remember being at work, sometime around March 12, and saying or thinking, not sure which, something like, nah, they won’t close the college. Phew, little could I have imagined what was about to occur.
It is important to understand our own confusion, where it comes from, and why we have it when we do.
Likewise, understanding confusion and clarity as a system can reduce anxiety and fear of the unknown inside of larger changes, like the pandemic.
Knowing that we will eventually work ourselves back to order and clarity is important. We must know, however, that confusion will come again. It has to. The world is full of chaos and confusion.
We believe the world is ordered and stable. Well, philosophically that is not so. And, it is also not practically so. Both.
If anyone you know has ever argued against the last statement, ask them now. COVID-19 has shown everyone that the world they know, feel, and see as stable and constant is not constant and stable. Constancy and stability are an illusion.
The world is chaotic and unstable. Yet, remember, change, like clarity, comes and goes, just like everything else on this planet. Including us.
Definitions taken from Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries.