Ambivalence refers to having mixed feelings about something and is a normal part of trying to make any changes in our lives.
Most of us experience some amount of conflict over the choices we make each day. For example, we know we’ll feel better by eating a salad with some lean protein, but we also like the taste of burger and chips. We also know that we should get more sleep, but then a Netflix binge can be very compelling.
For most of us, when it comes to making changes, there’s a natural conflict between wanting to do something, and actually doing it. In our defence though, sometimes a feeling of ambivalence comes from not knowing what to do, or how to do it.
When thinking about making changes in our lives we need to look at the big picture, and considering the following questions is useful in counteracting ambivalence:
What are the benefits of staying the same? — What’s good about not making any changes? It’s useful to think about, and list, all of the benefits.
What are the challenges of changing? — These may be numerous, and we need to think about, and list, the concerns and worries we have about making changes.
What are the benefits of changing? — These may also be numerous, and we need to think about, and list, what is good about making the changes.
What are the negatives of staying the same? — Here again, list what is bad about not changing.
Hope and optimism for changing — Think about what you see as possible for yourself.
How do you visualise change? — This is really important because it involves thinking about what change looks like for you. So, if you are able to make the changes you want, what would it look and feel like?
When we’re thinking of making any changes in our lives, it’s important to work through our natural ambivalence until we reach a place where the benefits of making changes outweigh the negatives of staying the same.