Therapy Blog

Ambivalence Doesn’t Mean Feeling Neutral

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Many people confuse ambivalence with simply feeling neutral, or not having strong feelings about something. In truth, ambivalence refers to having opposing feelings about the same issue. For example, I really want to eat broccoli because of its health benefits, but I hate the taste, so I want it and I don’t want it at the same time; I’m ambivalent. Another example is I really love the beach, but I don’t feel like dealing with all of the heat, and those pesky ‘no-see-ums’ (those ‘invisible’ tiny gnats that bite ya) in the summer, so I am ambivalent about going since I want to go and I don’t want to go at the same time.

And while it doesn’t necessarily guarantee indecision, ambivalence can certainly contribute to the mental state that leads to it. You can leverage ambivalence by taking stock of both sides of your feelings . . . write them down and see if that helps you make a decision.

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