We human beings tend to have difficulty with feeling ambivalence. We prefer to believe that we have things all figured out or that we have formulated our opinion and are comfortable with it. When we can’t categorize how we feel about a situation or a person in a clear way, we feel unsettled, confused, and even anxious.
During all phases of the divorce or breakup process, we often grapple with that uncomfortable ambivalence. We would feel much more settled if we could just identify with one type of sentiment all the time, for example, “I am so well rid of my partner and much better off without him/her,” rather than having a range of feelings and beliefs, some of them even contradictory.
Here’s what we need to know for ourselves and how we can help clients and friends grappling with ambivalence:
- It is perfectly normal and part of the human condition to feel ambivalence.
- Give yourself complete permission to feel ambivalence without any negative self-talk about it.
- Even if you have worked really hard to reach a certain realization or way of looking at a situation, it’s OK if at certain times, the opposite feeling creeps its way into your mind. For example, you thought you were celebrating being rid of your partner, but something triggered you momentarily and you got a stab of sadness or regret.
- When the opposite feeling surfaces, that doesn’t mean all of your inner work was ineffective, it’s all a perfectly usual part of the process. For example, if you are finally feeling like you are moving on past wanting to reconcile, just because some doubt or fear creeps in, that doesn’t nullify all the strength that you developed nor your desire to create a new and satisfying life for yourself.
- Even if that opposite feeling that you were hoping never to experience again begins to surface and causes an extreme emotional reaction, it can actually be beneficial to go back and mourn and grieve for a while. You can then move on feeling even stronger than before.
- Be compassionate with yourself about your feelings of ambivalence, you are still making steady progress, even if it is developing slowly, towards feeling stronger, happier, and more independent
We human beings are extremely complex, let’s accept and celebrate the beauty and the depth in that, welcoming all reactions and emotions without judgement, and persevering along our climb to success in all aspects of our lives.
*Some concepts are based upon “The Internal Family Systems Model”
*Contact Heidi Krantz, Professional Life Coach, for an individualized plan to work through your ambivalence and create the life that you desire at firstname.lastname@example.org.