Other words for ambivalence are unsureness, vacillation, indecision, or uncertainty. They all fuel our thinking processes and create a state of “I don’t know what to do.”
Ambivalence is universal in that most people struggle with deciding one time or another in their lives. We have mixed emotions and are unsure how to sort out what we are feeling and make the best decision.
When does ambivalence surface mainly: When we have two or more choices, possibilities, or goals, they may be opposite to each other. We can be ambivalent around small choices or big decisions to change the potential course of one’s life.
Ambivalence is not necessarily a bad thing as it lets us know we have choices and will eventually need to decide which option speaks to us the most.
There is no perfect decision, just the best decision for you.
If we listen to ourselves, we can find the best decision that works. The process of deciding can be overwhelming, given the varied choices. Yet we know that if we are willing to step through a simple process to capture the various choices, we will know where we are leaning and choose the best decision in situations.
Steps to Guide You Out of Uncertainty
Ambivalence is telling us it’s time to do our homework. It’s time to organize our thinking and reflect on the different possibilities.
Write It Out
Write down all your thoughts and feelings around the decision you need to make. Ambivalent feelings are normal, so acknowledge them. Don’t think them in your head; instead, write them down. Make them real and unclog your mind with floating thoughts about your feelings. Instead, own all those thoughts. It’s the only way to clean your inner house and view what you are feeling. Not all feelings have merit, but there may be feelings that clarify for you.
Time to Reflect
Reflection time is powerful in that you decide to step back and improve your ability to make the best decision for you.
- Are you comfortable making decisions for yourself, or do you wait until someone or a situation causes the decision for you? Are you a perfectionist? In your reflection time, recognize that there is no perfect decision, just the right decision for you at this time in your life. You need to know about yourself.
- Take the time to list all the possibilities around the decision – brainstorming without a whole bunch of emotions. If you wrote out your thoughts and feelings in the first step, you have freed up room to go deeper into the right decision for you.
- While reflecting, I recommend the Parking Lot Technique – you park thoughts, worries, or feelings that pop up and aren’t helping you with clarity with your decision. Write them all down on a separate paper and put them aside. You can always go back to them, but you park them away to provide some space to reflect.
- Make a list of the facts around the choice you need to make, as best as you know currently.
- If worries pop up, can you park your worry thinking for now and come back to it after completing your reflection time.
- Is there someone who is impacting you in deciding?
- Can you park their thinking or opinions as you sort through your thoughts?
- What additional information do you need before you decide?
- Do you know how to get that information, or can someone provide you with it?
- Do the traditional Pro/Con column after you have the facts as you know them to be. Here you can look at the different aspects of your choices and choose the correct answer for you.
Be Careful of Doubt
I don’t know about you, but I decide, and then doubts or worries about what I’m giving up or losing pop up. If you listen to yourself and minimize outside influences, unless they offer value to your decision, you need to accept there is no ideal decision – just what is good for you.
For example, I just decided to let go of a client I like because we didn’t work well together, and frankly, I wasn’t doing my best. Over the years, I had some minor ambivalence about this client, though it got stronger as the years moved forward.
Now, this is money, and I don’t want to give up money that easily, yet I knew the working relationship wasn’t going to get better. I’ve waited two years to make this decision because I didn’t want to give up the money. A new year and time to reflect on the situation made me realize the best decision for me was to let go as it was causing too much stress.
After making that decision it felt right to me. I let go of doubt and realized if I need additional money, I can search for a new client.
If you cannot move forward after writing and reflecting because of your ambivalence, reach out to a coach or another professional to support you through the decision process. Ambivalence saps too much energy and learning the skill of decision-making can release the inner stress.
Are you struggling with a decision? Is it hard to stop long enough to reflect on the best choice for you at this time in your life? Try out the writing, reflection and letting go of doubt to guide you in your decision making
Women’s Group Topics
Are there perfectionists lurking in your group? Are you one? Perfectionists believe there is a perfect decision – no such creature. A good decision, but not a perfect one. Brainstorm how you handle your decision-making processes and whether you linger too long or don’t make the right decision for yourself.
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”
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