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What you need to know if you have mixed feelings about something

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

Do you sometimes feel like your emotions are just too complex or even contradictory? Like you should just be able to know how you feel about something? Like you should be able to decide if something makes you happy or sad? Is the way you feel confusing? Do you feel uncertain?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might be experiencing emotional ambivalence, aka mixed feelings! Emotional ambivalence is the complex feeling you get when you experience both positive and negative emotions at the same time.

What is sometimes seen as indecisiveness or even a weakness, is actually something that is exremely common and normal. If feels uncomfortable because of the idea that positive and negative emotions don't go hand in hand. However, once we accept that it is possible to feel many different emotions at the same time, we aleviate the tension resulting from our emotional ambivalence.

Our emotional world and the situations we face and people we meet are complex and nuanced and have so many different facets! So, instead of asking yourself why you can't just feel positive or negative emotions about something, ask yourself how you could ever feel only one thing when faced with a multitude of aspects to each situation or person.

Take moving to another city for example. You might feel excited because you are looking forward to living there and because it is a new adventure. And you might be scared because everything will be new and you don't know what to expect. And you might feel sad to leave your friends, family, coworkers, or familiar surroundings. And you might feel suprised that moving away feels easier or more difficult than expected. One situation, four very different emotions because of different aspects of the situation.

Emotional ambivalence does not necessarily mean that you don't know how you feel. It can mean that you know that you are feeling a variety of emotions. You can feel annoyed and confused about those mixed feelings. Or you can embrace then and see them as perfectly normal, understandable, and healthy. It just depends on how you look at them.


If you are having trouble naming your emotions or need help sorting out how you feel about something, don't hesitate to book an appointment by clicking on the button below or seek help from another mental health professionnal!

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