Towards the end of any week, I start to feel, well… ambivalent about the coming weekend. Not because I’m not looking forward to it! Goodness, no, I’m not sure what I would do without weekends. Every other one I get to spend neck-deep in baking, Animal Crossing, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D fun with my two sons. On the off weeks, I’m, uh, usually working. FUN.
But that last point is where and why the ambivalence creeps in. The impending weekend means the week is almost over, and thus the allotted time for work and all the things I’m supposed to have gotten done in that time.
As it turns out, though, ambivalence can be a good thing, which is what this #swipefile spotlight is all about.
The story: The fence is uncomfortable, but it affords the best view
Psyche is the great mind and behavior division of the rich and wonderful site Aeon, one of my favorite #swipefile go-to’s. As I was wandering around it recently, I came across this article. First off, it’s a fantastic Truth Statement, so it was bound to catch my eye. Also, as someone who often finds themselves—sometimes uncomfortably—seeing and arguing for both sides of a debate, I thought it might help me be a bit more sanguine about that aspect of my wiring.
While this kind of analysis of how we think and go about our lives is #swipefile catnip to me, some notes from the article that you might find potentially useful, too:
- While it’s appealing to think about life in black & white, either/or terms, the reality is that life is rarely that simple or clear [PREACH, article, amirite?]
- Ambivalence is particularly common around times of major change or other milestones (birth, death, graduation, moving, new jobs, etc.)
- It’s also common around things you know and (often) love very well: partners, parents, and friends [which makes sense to me—the more you know someone the more you see all sides of them, both the good, the bad, and the meh]
- Money quote: Ambivalence doesn’t “mean that you don’t care about something or that you’re indifferent. Ambivalence refers to the presence of strong feelings, but in opposition.” [Suddenly I feel better about being so often ambivalent—it’s not a lack of feeling, it’s the presence of opposing feelings]
- Ambivalence and ambiguity are also not the same. Ambiguity means you don’t know the meaning of something. With ambivalence, both positive and negative meanings are clear.
- There’s something known as “‘trait ambivalence,’ defined as a tendency to experience more ambivalence about more issues.” [I FEEL SEEN]
- People with trait ambivalence are sometimes called “ambivalents” [I am in love with the play on homophones here… just me?]
- The article argues for the benefits of ambivalence, whether it’s a constant state for you or not
- For instance, ambivalence makes you less impulsive, because you need to “integrate opposing thoughts and ideas
- The author argues that in addition to making you think more (because of the aforementioned “integration”), it helps you think better. The ability to hold, examine, and validate both sides of an argument leads to greater cognitive flexibility and open-mindedness.
- That same “seeing both sides” ability also leads to being able to see the connections between those sides more often, a key ingredient in creativity
- “Ambivalents” often end up being fairer in their judgments of others, because “they consider both the person’s personality as well as the circumstances, giving them a fairer shake”
- They often end up being fairer judges of themselves, as well, as they assign credit to both personality and circumstances, for both successes and failures (rather than credit personality for success and circumstances for failure, as is often a very human tendency)
- It’s possible to become more ambivalent! [Which sounds super weird to say, but after reading the article, I’m sold…]
- Two quick ways to do that: (1) write down pros and cons for various decisions and judgments you need to make and (2) reframe mixed feelings as positive cognitive growth, that you’re more “in tune with the complexity and multifaceted nature of reality”
How you could use it…
One of the reasons articles like this are such catnip to me is that they’re useful on two levels: for the subject matter itself, obviously, but also for some of the techniques they use to present it. On the subject matter side, here are some quick ideas about how you could incorporate this article into your next message or content:
- To reassure or explain feelings around a major change (professional or personal)
- To offer third-party validation of those ambivalent feelings
- To make the case for more expansive, less-polarized thinking (and give it a name!)
That last point is a good segue into how you could use this article as an example or inspiration for your own messages and content:
- It gives the new thinking a behavior a name—Ambivalents—which is easy to remember (because it’s a play on words of its subject matter) and reinforces the point of the article: that ambivalence is something to be appreciated and even cultivated
- As I mentioned before, it leads off with a killer, “proverbed” title that illustrates that main thesis (or Truth Statement, if you’re following along with my Red Thread® method)
- It validates people’s current experiences and feelings about its subject matter as a way of establishing (digital!) rapport
So, what do you think, both about the idea of Ambivalents and the article itself? How could you use it for illustration or inspiration…or both? Email me and let me know.As it turns out, though, that ambivalence can be a good thing, which is what this #swipefile spotlight is all about. Click To Tweet
Please note that many of the links are affiliate links, which means if you buy a thing I link to, I get a percentage of the cost, and then donate it to charity.
Like this content? Be the first to get it delivered directly to your inbox every week (along with a lot of other great content, including my #swipefiles). Yes, please send me the Red Thread newsletter, exclusive information, and updates.