Overcoming Ambivalence: Finding your Right ‘Why’ for Making a Change

Overcoming Ambivalence: Finding your Right ‘Why’ for Making a Change

September 22, 2021

According to Oxford Dictionaries, the definition of ambivalence is the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone else. Are you still on the fence about making a change or starting something new? You are not alone. This is human nature. We tend to want things to happen simultaneously that can’t co-exist. Look at these pain predicaments:
  • Being sedentary can cause muscles to be stiff but Carl’s muscles have been stiff for so long that it hurts to move them and now he is scared to give a new flexibility program a shot.


  • Bob has been working on cutting empty calories out of his diet because he carries some extra weight which has led to low back pain for the past 5 years. However, his coworkers always bring in sweets and leave them out in the break room, so he has the urge to indulge.


These feelings can bring on anxiety, cause you to freeze, and leave you not wanting to change. It can feel like a never-ending cycle of wanting to change one day and waking up the next thinking,“I’ve made it this far, why to change now?”

Does this sound familiar? If so, you may not have the right “why” for making a change. Ask yourself “why” it is that you truly want to make the change you are ambivalent about. What does the result look like? Is it internally driven or motivated by external factors?

Internally driven goal or “why”:

I want to manage my pain so I can live my life pain-free and enjoy an active retirement so I do not have to be wheelchair-bound and take prescription medication daily to manage my pain.

Externally driven goal or “why”:

My spouse wants me to manage my pain because they tell me I complain about it too much so they signed me up for this program. One of these people is more likely to accomplish their goal and want to make a lasting change for themselves. Can you guess which one it is? Hopefully, you chose the internally driven goal! If not, that’s okay and we can help!

Changing behaviors takes time and is a revolving process without a linear path. There will be good and bad days and we will all be ambivalent at some point in time. Maybe you can’t think of a good “why” or you are starting to lose faith that you can accomplish what you initially set out to do. Maybe your goal isn’t going as expected or you aren’t seeing results in the timeframe you hoped to initially. This is all completely normal and why you have a SimpleTherapy care team to support you on your journey.

If you are feeling ambivalent but are ready to make a change, schedule a call with your health coach today so you can talk through your “why.” We are here to listen!

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