Self

People Who Struggle To Make Decisions All Share This One Mentality

Photo: Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock
frustrated woman

Do you often find yourself in "analysis paralysis"? It is a state where you’ve thoroughly evaluated every detail, know all the possible outcomes, but still can’t seem to decide.

Ambivalence is the inability to choose between two opposing courses of action, so you take none at all. In relationships, it is when you can’t live with a person, but can’t live without them either.

Most adults who have had more than one relationship have experienced ambivalent feelings toward their partner at one point or another. But what happens when you have chronic ambivalence?

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What is chronic ambivalence?

Let us first say that some ambivalence is normal and completely necessary. Every person feels ambivalent when making tough decisions about life. As TikToker Amy Millie explains, “A certain degree of ambivalence is actually healthy, and it can be a sign of emotional maturity.”

   

   

But there's a big difference between someone with moderate ambivalence and chronic ambivalence.

As Millie says, “Moderate ambivalent thinkers are able to see all of life with all of its complexities and imperfections.” But when people suffer chronic ambivalence, they struggle to finalize a decision, stifling their progress and going back and forth considering options.

Psychologists and social scientists have concluded that there are certain personality traits that can be associated with people who have chronic ambivalence.

Obsessive compulsive tendencies, underdeveloped problem-solving skills, and overthinking are characteristics commonly found in ambivalent thinkers.

They over-evaluate all sides of a situation and consider every potential option, but remain unable to pull the trigger on a decision.

People with chronic ambivalence fear being “wrong” or making a “bad” decision. Because of this pattern of thinking, they flip-flop, jumping from one side of the fence to the other.

At the root of chronic ambivalence lies trust issues, problems with intimacy, separation anxiety, and a lack of self-confidence.

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Can you resolve chronic ambivalence?

The good news is that being chronically ambivalent is a condition with many helpful resolutions. Treatment involves addressing the underlying issues that are causing your indecisiveness.

People with chronic ambivalence also need to develop a stronger sense of self, boosting their confidence and their ability to feel fear yet act anyway.

A therapist can help you identify and track your ambivalent feelings and validate them without allowing them to impede your progress.

How do I know if I have chronic ambivalence?

Chronic ambivalence is commonly expressed as confusion, especially in relationships. One minute you have the perfect mate, and the next they are the worst you’ve ever had.

It can appear as uncertainty or a lack of commitment, but is really an internal struggle to do what’s best for you.

People who are chronically ambivalent can come across as weak and helpless, giving off an appearance of lacking interest. In relationships, when one partner is extremely ambivalent, it is to protect themselves, but can result in a very unhealthy dynamic.

Chronic ambivalence interferes with our ability to move forward. It’s a cycling pattern where we find ourselves unable to progress.

That ambivalence turns into an emotional and psychological barrier keeping you from achieving the genuine happiness you deserve.

If you are chronically ambivalent, by setting the right intentions and purposefully acting, you can overcome this obstacle and get out of your own way.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.

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