Why Ambivalence is an obstacle to recovery

In the context of recovery, ambivalence is usually wanting something better, but being too uncomfortable to pursue it. We think about change in the forms of further growth and healing. Too often we overthink, increasingly resistant, and rooted within our comfort zone. We try to imagine whether we can be successful through the entirety of a process instead of simply taking the first step.

We sit on the fence between how it is and how it could be. It’s the easiest way to get in your own way. Status quo is familiar and therefore we mistake it for security. Our disease tells us that it’s reckless to try for more and encourages us to embrace complacency and settle for far less than we can have.

As my friends in 12 step fellowships say:

“My disease wants me dead, but it will settle for miserable.”

Alcoholics Anonymous

Through the course of recovery, we notice our self-talk and the negativity we too often bombard ourselves with. Fear makes it hard to tell what is my voice, what is the inner critic, and what is the disease speaking. There’s a fine line between, “I don’t know if I want this” and “I’m afraid of this.” That line is imperceptible when we’re on the fence.

I talk with lots of folks who long for something more but get stuck in self-doubt. I urge folks to consider, “Do you truly doubt or do you just hate how this feels?” As the adage goes, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” The fact that we’re talking about change increases the likelihood that we’ll pursue it 1000%. Support for our goals is key, but accountability for attaining them is vital.

We didn’t get clean/sober to have a mediocre life.

We’re people who reinvent the wheel because we’re afraid to ask someone who’s done it. We hide our fears – disguising them as desires for independence and self-reliance. We forget that others benefit from helping us and that left to our own devices we are most likely to perpetuate status quo. We are people who need to be challenged to heal and to grow holistically.

The greatest safeguards to our recovery are…

  • continued growth
  • healing
  • connection

We cannot afford to be complacent. We didn’t get clean/sober to have a mediocre life. We deserve to have what my friends in AA refer to as, “a life second to none.”