The surprising benefit of ambivalence

Ambivalence and depression counselling totnes, paignton and newton abbot

Do you get those days sometimes, where you just can’t be bothered with life? Whatever it is you had planned, seems unappealing or a drag. Tasks feel a chore, conversations and interactions a burden. Something is dragging and it feels difficult to move through it.

Noticing our resistances and reluctances  can give us interesting clues into what’s going on in our inner landscape. Often what may seem hidden finds a way to emerge, albeit in perhaps unexpected or distorted ways.

When a client says to me they didn’t feel like coming to a session, I begin to wonder, what part of them doesn’t want to be engaged in this process?  Which part of them is dragging their heels?

Ambivalence or outright rejection of the process of counselling aren’t uncommon at some point during the time clients and counsellors meet. It can often be an indicator that we’re getting close to something painful or difficult that has been protected and defended against for a long time.

As we approach that place, it can evoke all sorts of defences which have served an important purpose, containing or protecting something that might otherwise be unbearably painful.

In Psychosynthesis counselling we ask two questions: what is trying to emerge from this turning away or ambivalence and what qualities does this ambivalent part hold for the client?

The first question allows us to be curious about an energy for change which is carried in resistance and ambivalence. In holding that potential for the client even when they seem to be running in the opposite direction, we co-create the possibility of it being evoked and lived by the client, for themselves, when they are ready.

The second question asks more deeply, what the transpersonal potential and quality are that lie behind the defence. For example, behind an angry rejection of counselling might also be a quality of taking power in one’s life or self-assertion. Knowing that every distorted or split position is one that also holds a quality and potential for self-support allows us to see our clients as more than their pain.

So what about those ‘can’t be bothered’ blues? Well sometimes it’s just that. But if it becomes a routine way of being in your life, it might be good to ask yourself the question, which part of you can’t be bothered? Is it a part of you that feels defeated by life, angry at injustice in your life, disempowered, or that simply enjoys not doing much? These questions can help us deepen our awareness and allow us to make choiceful decisions about how we respond to our circumstances and to our lives.

By Matt Fox Counselling in Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott

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