To be or not to bePosted: January 18, 2011
Ambivalence: should I stay or should I go, having “cold feet”, sitting on a fence, having a love and hate relationship with someone, wanting to change but also wanting to stay the same. It is also known as Approach-Avoidance: conflicts occur when one goal contains both positive and negative characteristics. That is, an individual fears something that he desires. When the goal is far away, both positive and negative feelings about the goal are less strong; however, as he approaches the goal, a person’s feelings about the negative characteristics arise, and he backs down, avoiding getting too close to achieving the goal. Then, as the goal is further away, he approaches again, only to have the same feelings of avoidance arise again, and he backs off, which decreases the internal conflict. This is for instance someone who is afraid of intimacy but desperate for it. Many times the conflict is between wanting something we shouldn’t have. Which is pretty interesting since the mere fact that we shouldn’t have it makes us want it even more.
Conflict is not necessarily a bad thing. Where there is no conflict or ambivalence there is no change to be made. No one likes change but the truth is it is inevitable.
Someone who is addicted to something or someone, is in a constant state of ambivalence between wanting and not wanting, action and inaction, doing and trying to undo, forever stuck between ecstasy and guilt, control and loss of control, happiness and misery, hunger and fulfillment. Some people continue to be in this state even after they stop “using” or stop engaging in addictive behaviors. Your mind is the last one to jump on board with what you are trying to do. Change involves reprogramming your brain and learning to solve the conflict within you.