For most people, ambivalence is a very uncomfortable feeling to experience in life. Whether it be an ambivalence very commonly experienced in our emotions and moods, sometimes experienced in our attitudes, and only in rare occasions in our life values, we are not comfortable with feeling both positive and negative feelings at the same time. Ambivalence creates a feeling of cognitive tension and dissonance between the two poles of affect that motivates us to resolve that feeling by trying to either affirm the good or the bad and to minimize and forget the other part.
Some people are more comfortable with ambivalence than others. When people are increasingly uncomfortable with feelings of ambivalence, they tend to react in a strong emotional reaction. In some people, this can lead to the phenomenon of splitting, where they vacillate back and forth between idealization and devaluation. For them, dealing with the back-and-forth in life is often a key element in their recovery, such as what dialectical behavioral therapy attempts to accomplish, particularly for people with borderline personality disorder. However, most people do not push so far as to split regularly, but rather they develop various other strategies to address feelings of ambivalence, such as avoidance, rationalizing away, etc. These are much more effective strategies for dealing with our ambivalence in the short run than strategies like splitting.
However, when people who are attempting to resolve the dissonance that comes from ambivalence, their motivations to address this dissonance leads them to not pay as much attention to what they think, say, or do to resolve it, as their primary goal is internal relief. As a result, we become increasingly careless and not watchful of what we are doing. This has an unfortunate consequence when it comes to social relationships: it can lead us to dump our problems with our own feelings onto other people, without concern for or understanding how our words or actions affect the other person. This isn’t a major problem when people consistently resolve their ambivalence in the same way, but when people are chaotic, going to and fro, back and forth, in and out, again and again and again without any concern to either help other people to understanding or to recognize one’s own chaos, it has a pernicious side effect: it forces a form of double-minded-ness on the emotional scapegoat if they are unable to escape from it, and they will most likely try to escape.
So, I leave this with a word for those hearing: we all have our inconsistencies, our uncertainties, our experiences of ambiguities, and even our experiences of ambivalence. To prevent these from being something that causes problems for others, be the type of person who reflects on your own inconsistencies, are willing to address them, and are willing to allow other people to point them out. Spiritually, this is part of the life of repentance and self-examination, which is enabled by recognizing that God does not just condemn us because we sin and messed up here or there. We can also learn to help encourage this in others by our preference for showing grace over judgment (this is messy in our own lives too). Life is complex and so are we and because of it, we all can be inconsistent time to time, but this alone will not cause be harm to others, as we all have varying buffers for dealing with ambiguities and ambivalence. However, be open to seeing your own inconsistences, because it is only through that that you can grow. Not everyone has enough of a buffer to endure the slightest of inconsistencies, ambiguities, and ambivalence, which correlates to their difficulty with dealing with ambivalence, and that is okay, but seek to be someone who is willing to deal with our own ambivalence in healthier ways so that we don’t make others an emotional scapegoat for our chaos.