Dealing with Ambivalence


Has there one time in our lives when we felt so confused about something or someone? It felt then that we have at least two options and we do not know which is better. Worse, we deal with someone, who seem uncertain of what he or she wants in life. That feeling is called ambivalence. What seems to be cause of it? How can we deal with it if that happens to ourselves or to others?

Conflicting beliefs and emotions are the cause of ambivalence. This happens, when we sometimes see taking actions in either way results to the same thing and we can not find a compromise between options, or we anticipate disadvantages to be significant such that loss still results regardless of which action to take. It results to an extraordinary confusion and anxiety to someone that sometimes results to one not being able to function properly in life. People tend to withdraw and avoid both situations, resulting for someone to play safely. Some individuals seek advices from trusted people, which may in turn ease anxiety, but it is also usual that these so-called advisers may even aggravate confusion and anxiety. The best thing that everyone hopes is that we could make a good decision, just like a toss of coin and instantaneously maximize benefits afterwards. However, this is easy said than done.

Ambivalence presents an opportunity of growth to someone. This is because existing coping mechanisms in the person no longer is enough to understand and distinguish which action to make. On the other hand, ambivalence provides a window for depression, if a person unnecessarily make actions that worsen the present confusion and ambivalence. Possessing an optimistic perspective broadens understanding of the surroundings and the world, as it presents challenging questions that the ego should confront.

Confusion maybe as simple as deciding to go to a party or not. Another example would be the difficulty of obeying parents against our own will. Perhaps, culture dictates that one must act accordingly, but the ego tells the opposite. Ambivalence is also prevalent among relationships. Couple may find it difficult to confront their partner on things they are not open discussing with the other. Moreover, anxiety results when a person is faced with the question to continue with or end a long-term relationship. Hard decisions about career shifts or ending an existing contract for a perceived greater opportunity are also good examples.

To sum it up, the challenge of ambivalence lies with loss. People are afraid of losing too much and tries to get everything for himself or herself. Greed can easily be associated with ambivalence. We all want the best that it does not exist in our vocabulary the word "compromise". Hard truth but our selfish nature does not aid in mitigating the feeling of ambivalence. On the contrary, dealing with ambivalence in ourselves involves us to focus on gains relative to what our purpose in lives and how a decision affects the most number of people. Simply, we should go beyond ourselves when confronted with ambivalence. We should think of which actions results to the greatest fulfillment and long-lived happiness. If ambivalence challenges our selfish nature, then what is required for us to deal with it is an opposite concept - being selfless.

If the reason of not going to party is to remain with a wheelchair-bound relative, do it. For going to a party with friends may happen often, but staying with the relative shows compassion and provides a lesson to ourselves that we can compromise our pleasures for someone special to us. Disobedience to parents and towards culture against free will are too complex circumstances one should take. In these situations, taking time and learning the virtue of patience to understand fully the problem is a must. Ambivalence must be felt between options after one fully comprehends them. It is necessary that before choosing an option, all options must be fully understood. Take time, there is no harm of doing so.

This is also true to confusion in relationships and career changes. However, in these situations, people face a tremendous pressure of deciding on what action to pursue, even though sometimes, one does not fully understand the situation. This is a risk. Many people commit mistakes, but the key is acceptance of consequences. If one does not have the luxury of time to gather more information to see options, one could ask others give their understanding of the problem, without giving advices. It is important that it is the person, who experiences ambivalence take the responsibility of making the decision. Helping this person understand his or her problem is enough, but deciding in behalf of him or her is too much. In addition, although people may give their own point of views, choosing the right person to ask is also crucial. Getting a narrow understanding of the problem from others is worse than doing a hasty decision on our own. Furthermore, if everything fails after viewing the problem more clearly, stand up! Take accountability of your actions. Forgive yourself of doing a wrong decision for everybody makes bad decisions. Here, one can say, at least you did everything you think is right, but time was not at your side. Better luck next time - words one can tell to himself or herself.

What if it is not us, who is ambivalent? How can we help? As mentioned, if one asks advice from us then our duty is to merely provide the most objective and comprehensive understanding of the problem. Not everyone can do this, but we can be honest about it to ourselves, whether we are fit to be asked of our own perspective. We should not unnecessarily give wrong impressions to someone, especially we ourselves also can not deal our own confusions. Let us be honest in our assessment of ourselves. That is best thing we can do before we give our opinions about a situation that makes another confused or feel ambivalent.

What if we are the source of another's ambivalence? What shall we do? Ofcourse, we can not give objective impressions of the problem since the situation involves ourselves. For me, the best way to handle this situation is through two ways. First, keep quiet and take time. This means not doing anything that worsens the ambivalence of another. Let the other see the problem objectively by consciously making a distance between one and the other. Wait for the right time, when everyone seems ready to make a decision. Being impatient does not help.  Second, deal with the situation as our own ambivalence. When we become the source of the ambivalence, it is not just another's problem, it is also our own problem. Try to handle the situation like how the other should handle his or her ambivalence. Think what is good for most people and go beyond self, while acquiring wisdom from the experience.

Lastly, ambivalence is indeed a question of one's happiness. This is the reason we tend to be selfish because we are protecting our own happiness. Confusion results when things challenges our perceived concept of happiness. Clearly knowing what makes us happy and serving our greater purpose in life help us go through and learn from these situations causing us ambivalence.




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