Is there something in your life that you want to change? Something you think about occasionally, maybe even often? But no matter how much you think about the change you just never get around making it happen?
Do any of these sound familiar: "I want to lose weight but I hate exercising." Or maybe "I want to eat healthier but I don't like vegetables." Or how about "I'm trying to lose weight but I'm not giving up chocolate!"
You, like many others I know, may be dealing with ambivalence, and it can affect us in many ways when it comes to making a change. But the bottom line is that if you're unaware and do nothing about it, ambivalence can leave you frustrated, possibly even depressed and without a clear solution in sight.
Typically when we want to make a change we think about the thing we hope to alter. Be that the weight we want to lose, the feeling of being healthier, or even pursuing a new career or hobby. That's the easy part, because the change we want to make is so obvious to us. But over time if we don't act, that change can begin to haunt us.
Ambivalence creeps in after the change thinking because we like being comfortable. We like living the status quo. Think about it, most people would rather live in their comfort zone than live uncomfortably, right? This is where ambivalence becomes so insidious.
Our change talk of "I want to _____" is followed by "but I really like _____." What eventually happens is that the two cancel each other out. Reread that second paragraph and you'll see what I mean.
That "I want to X but Y" statement then falls from the forefront of our mind and we go on about our daily routine, we continue life in our comfort zone. We continue the status quo. But fulfilling lives are not made in the status quo.
Now that you are aware of your ambivalence and you are thinking about that thing you want to change, what should you do? How can you finally grab that BUT and kick it out the front door? By planning your next step and, more importantly, by taking action.
If you want to lose weight but you hate exercising, start small. Go for a walk, join a gym, hire a personal trainer. Where you begin is relative to where you are, but THAT you begin is the important part.
If you want to eat healthier but you hate vegetable or you love your sweet tea, again, start small. Try one or two new vegetables. Prepare them differently, branch out. Try cutting your tea habit by a glass or two per week or drinking half sweet/half unsweet. Focus on the next step and make it happen.
Know that things will pop up to cause conflict. You'll hurt your knee walking. You'll be surprised with a big chocolate birthday cake. The waitress will bring you sweet tea instead of water. Whatever it is, don't allow it to become a new "I was going to do this BUT _____" statement.
Identify your ambivalence. Create the immediate action. Do it. Then create your next step and do that. This is how you create a happy life. This is how you change.
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and has a budding YouTube channel.