Ambivalence can explain why we don't make those changes we think we want to

What stops us from making the changes we know are good for us? The answer can be…


Ambivalence. The simultaneous existence of two opposed and conflicting attitudes or emotions.


We know there is a need to change something or some behaviour. We know what we need to do. We understand why we need to do it. When know when and with whom.


We know it will do us good. We know it is beneficial to us in the short or long term. It may even stop us from non productive behaviours.


But we still don’t do it.


Ambivalence is where the change has not got to the top of our priority list. It has not got to the point where it is urgent to do it. Other things are higher on our priority list and are taking our time and energy.


Think about something on your list of things to do. It might be being more assertive, doing more exercise, putting yourself up from promotion, stopping smoking, managing your stress levels, improving relations with another team, learning a language, getting out more, moving jobs…


Now consider why you haven’t put this thing into action. Why haven’t you done it? Could it be ambivalence, it just hasn’t got to the top of your priority list yet? Do you really want to do this thing?


So what can we do? Here are a few ideas:


1. Recognise why it hasn’t been done.


2. Remove it from your to do list as it may be cluttering your mind.


3. Ask for advice from someone who knows about the subject


4. Talk to someone who is good at taking action.


5. Discuss with someone who knows you.


6. Decide to take action.


If ambivalence is the block then recognising this can be the first step to resolving the block. And we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about ambivalence. It is very, very common. Recognising it is the first step to personal development.

What stops us from making the changes we know are good for us?