May 24th, 2007


Weekly thought stirring: Feeling two things at once

Ambivalence is a commonly mis-used word. In common language, it's usually used to describe feeling little to no preference between two things - more like apathy. But ambivalence quite literally means feeling *two* things with great strength, and therefore not being able to choose between them.

Something that a lot of us go through, is ambivalence - feeling two things very strongly, but feeling that we *need* to choose between the two. Something I'm still learning is that it is okay, normal, and healthy, to let yourself feel both things at once - that you don't have to decide - you are allowed to feel two completely opposing emotions about a situation, and don't have to decide on which to focus.

For example, many of us struggle between feeling angry at our abusers and loving the parts of them which aren't abusing us. Many of us get into what some call "black or white thinking" - where we feel that if we're angry, we cannot love them - or if we love them, that we cannot also be angry with them. Something that's very hard to do is to acknowledge and feel both emotions - understanding that we both love and are angry at someone, that both emotions are valid, and that we can feel them both without having to act like we only feel one of those emotions.

Being able to acknowledge them both is very difficult, but it can be very helpful. By acknowledging both feelings, we don't make ourselves silence one emotion for the sake of another emotion. By acknowledging both things, we are able to just sit with those feelings, and see where each feeling can be processed. Though it can be difficult, allowing both emotions to be and be separate from each other can keep us from feeling stifled emotionally, and help us progress in processing how we're feeling.

So this week's questions are:
- Do you experience two emotions at once? How often?
- if you do experience two emotions at once, do you often feel like you need to acknowledge or act on just one of them?
- How can you start learning to acknowledge both emotions?