Treading in Porridge
Imagine it; a bowl of porridge and you get to immerse your whole body in it. Warm, supportive and comfortable. Great if you just want to stay put. Not so good if you actually intend to go somewhere. This is a lot what ambivalence is like. For most decisions, there are reasons to make a change and reasons to keep things just as they are. Even when it comes to unhealthy behaviours or circumstances and it seems obvious to everyone that change is the “right” thing to do, the person will likely stay exactly the same until the scale is finally tipped in favour of doing something different.
Ambivalence can be defined as the coexistence of opposing attitudes, feelings, or values that keep a person stuck. In our current society, people are faced with many decisions. Whether to change their eating habits or not. On the one hand, health would be improved but on the other hand, one would have to give up the things they love like cheese cake, French fries, and beer. Whether to change jobs or not. On one hand, the job has become stressful because of a bully boss but on the other hand, it pays well and matches the person’s skill set. Whether to become a parent or not. On the one hand, it would be fulfilling to raise a child but on the other hand, freedom to do what one wants would be significantly compromised. There are many other examples of ambivalence in our society today. Whether to leave a relationship or not, whether to move or not, whether to give up alcohol/ drugs, or not, etc. People can keep treading in porridge for a long time because it is more comfortable to stay with something that is familiar and known, even if it is unhealthy and change is desired. Change requires significant effort and risk-taking to move forward and venture beyond what is comfortable. If change was easy, people would do it all the time.
If you are faced with a significant decision and are feeling stuck, doing a pros and cons list can be very helpful.