Do you often — too often — feel uncertain or second guess yourself?
When something is right, we know it. When something is wrong we know that too. Uncertainty is a normal experience, but when it becomes a way of life it is not an easy life to live. Attachment theorists talk about ambivalent attachment styles –living ambivalently can also become a lifestyle. The good news is lifestyles can change. No choice is ever a life sentence unless you make it one. And the best way out of ambivalence is to start making choices.
Ambivalence is created in the vacuum of trying to make right what is wrong. It is often generated by real events in our past where our needs were not met but we had to cope anyway. We did not have or did not perceive any other option. We were too young to know what we needed or to say no or leave. We had committed ourselves already. Right and wrong represent either ends of a spectrum, and ambivalence is a grey area.
Right and wrong represent definite edges and clear boundaries, as do yes and no. It is important to know where our edges are, to have clear access to our yes and no. When someone does not hear or honor our yes or no, our relationship with them is challenged. When we cannot hear or honor our own yes or no, our relationship with ourselves is challenged.
Where our relationship with ourselves is challenged, we find ambivalence. Ambivalence can express in many ways including uncertainty about someone or something or about whether or not to take the next step in one’s life. Being ambivalent keeps us out of contact with ourselves and others in essential ways. When ambivalent we exist in a familiar but unwelcome place where we cannot access or act out own impulses. Without this access we rely on the impulses and motivations of others for direction. When we are relying on others to make choices for us we cannot live an engaged and meaningful life.
When we live ambivalently we can spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to feel certain or make something perfect. Our need to be perfect sits atop a history that is rife with imperfections. Our need for certainty is real and valid; our lack of certainty keeps us ambivalent.
Paradoxically, if you are living an ambivalent life, it feels safer not to choose. Choices have consequences, and consequences are imagined as negative. If you want to stop living a life of ambivalence, you only have to make one choice: to stop. You can start stepping towards your convictions by not committing to anything or anyone without a clear yes to do so. There are many ways to find your yes and your no and once you do, your ambivalence will become a tool by which you can tell that you are not clear yet; a guide to find the right path of action rather than an excuse not to act.
If you choose to stop living ambivalently, your life will change. I know this to be true from my own experience. Once I chose to follow a different path, to go towards certainty rather than confusion, to pause when I met my confusion and wait for certainty to arise, I found love, happiness, capacity and meaning beyond anything I could have imagined. Now it is part of my life work to help others with their ambivalence. If you’re looking for the support to change your life, check out the services at my company Courageous Heart Therapies. I offer sessions in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Polarity Therapy and Pre and Perinatal Therapy. I seek to facilitate profound and lasting transformation through deep and authentic connection to oneself.