tie into knots

tie (someone or oneself) (up) into knots

1. To make someone oneself feel particularly confused, anxious, worried, or upset. I've been planning to propose to James on Sunday, but the nervousness is tying me into knots! Now don't go tying yourself in knots over the details of your papers—at this point, all you need is a cohesive outline.
2. To cause someone or oneself to become flustered while attempting to explain something. Jim's a smart guy, but for some reason he always ties himself up into knots whenever I ask him to explain something on the computer for me. The complex technical language kept tying me in knots as I tried to present it to the board.
See also: knot, tie

tie into knots

Confuse, upset, or bewilder, as in He tied himself into knots when he tried to explain how the engine works. This metaphoric idiom transfers a knotted tangle to mental confusion. [Late 1800s]
See also: knot, tie