Mixed Feelings: What They Are And How We Can Handle Them

Mixed feelings

We have all experienced situations in which our feelings were confusing, as they went in one direction but also in another.

It’s the mixed feelings We are going to try to better understand what this phenomenon consists of, reviewing some examples and everyday situations. We will also learn some of the psychological mechanisms behind it and also how to deal with them.

What are mixed feelings?

We talk about mixed feelings when a person experiences ambivalent emotions when faced with a stimulus, whether it is a situation, a person, animal or object This element would be generating multiple emotionality in that individual, therefore causing him to have sensations that seem to go in different directions and sometimes even seem totally opposite, such as love and hate.

Faced with a situation like this, the person feels confused, since the mixed feelings generate instability, since the individual loses the guidance that emotions normally provide. In these cases, he stops knowing how to act based on the emotion he is feeling, because it is not just one, but there are two and sometimes even more or they are so diffuse that he is not able to identify them.

To experience mixed feelings is, therefore, to go through an emotional labyrinth that fatigues the mind of those who are living it, since they have to live with very different sensations around some element of their life Some of them urge him to get closer while others order him to do the opposite. In a situation like this, it is logical that the person feels this disorientation.

Why does this psychological phenomenon occur?

But how can such a paradoxical situation, that of mixed feelings, occur in a rational being like humans? The answer is simple. No matter how rational we are, we are also still emotional beings. Reason is governed by logical laws, but emotions are not. Although we can modulate them (precisely through reason), sometimes it is very difficult to control the appearance of a specific emotion.

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Life is extremely complex. There are so many variables that affect each stimulus that on many occasions it happens that some parts related to that specific element are pleasant to us and therefore encourage us to approach it, while at the same time there are dimensions of that same stimulus that are unpleasant. and even aversive for us, causing rejection.

What happens then? Does the person get carried away by one emotion or the other? Generally the most intense will win, unless reason has something to say about it This is where our rational part comes into play. It is easier for this to happen the less strong the emotion we are trying to “overcome” has, because if it increases so much in intensity as to overwhelm us, even reason could be compromised.

Mixed feelings occur many more times than we think, but in most cases one of the emotions is substantially more intense than the other, so the weaker one will be overshadowed and sometimes we will not even detect it.

What to do about mixed feelings

We have already seen what it means to have mixed feelings and the discomfort that they can sometimes cause to the person who experiences them. What could an individual who finds himself in that situation do to feel better? First of all, it would be positive for the person to dedicate some time to carrying out an introspection exercise that would allow them identify all the emotions you are experiencing

This is not the time to make judgments about whether each of these emotions is good or bad in and of itself. Once we have completed the list, we can repeat the exercise, thinking this time about a specific situation in which that stimulus has been present. Now it is time to further explore the mixed feelings and evaluate whether each of those emotions was provoked by the stimulus or by the situation itself.

We will continue to investigate to find out what exactly caused us to feel the way we have identified To do this, we can write down in another column what we believe was the origin of each of these sensations, in order to see exactly where it came from and verify that we have not automatically assigned any to the original stimulus.

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At this point we can come to realize that a certain emotion that caused us discomfort did not actually come directly from the element we believed, but rather had been generated by a contextual situation and we had automatically associated it with the stimulus.

In the case of people and the mixed feelings towards them, we can fall into the so-called transference process, which consists of assigning them emotions that another person actually provoked in us, simply because they remind us of them. In these cases it is also useful to carry out that introspection we were talking about and check if the feelings are genuine for this individual or are actually generated by a third party.

After exploring the origins of the mixed feelings, it is time to try to find a solution If we have identified an emotion that is unpleasant to us, we can go to the source to try to convert it into another that is more positive for us. For example, if a negative feeling comes from a specific comment that a person made to us at a given time, we can try to talk to that person about it.

Another good exercise is to hypothesize scenarios in which we explore the pros and cons of each solution we come up with. For example, we can evaluate the consequences of telling the person who offended us how they made us feel, the consequences of talking about it with a third party, the consequences of doing nothing, etc.

This way we will have all the information on the table to be able to make an informed decision. This way we can choose the path that best suits us, and we will even have the rest of the options ready in case the first choice does not succeed and we continue to have unresolved mixed feelings.

The work of introspection is very powerful and productive, but sometimes we may need the help of a person outside of this whole situation to find new points of view that perhaps are escaping us. That is why we should not discard the seek the objectivity provided by an external individual if we believe that the work we are doing is not generating the good results we would expect

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In cases where the situation is generating great discomfort and we are not able to find that improvement, the counselor we are looking for could be none other than a psychological therapist. Without a doubt, with the tools that this professional will provide, the person will find the relief they need.

The case of cognitive dissonance

We have taken a tour of the different facets of mixed feelings as well as the methodology to resolve them in the most satisfactory way possible. We are now going to learn about the case of cognitive dissonance, a phenomenon that, although it has different nuances, has a lot to do with mixed feelings, which is why it deserves a separate mention.

Cognitive dissonance also implies discomfort in the individual, but in this case it is generated by the tension between two or more thoughts or beliefs, which conflict regarding a given situation or stimulus. We see, therefore, the resemblance it bears to the subject of this article.

It is a concept coined by Leon Festinger and refers to the need for coherence that human beings have between what they feel, what they think and what they do, that is, between beliefs, thoughts and behaviors. When this coherence is compromised, for example because we are forced to perform a task that goes against what we think, that is when cognitive dissonance appears.

This dissonance It can lead the person to try to deceive themselves, making them believe that the behavior they are doing actually seems correct, since their beliefs were wrong. He tries to put the pieces together in order to see the discomfort he is suffering reduced, hence one of the ways he uses to do this is lying, through self-deception.

Therefore, cognitive dissonance would be an independent psychological phenomenon but that would have a certain relationship with mixed feelings, although these would fundamentally differ in that, as their name dictates, they refer only to feelings or emotions.