The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Dealing with ambivalence

Sometimes, headlines can make it hard to grasp an article. The way they are phrased seems to indicate a summary or the essence of an article. They thus establish a bias as to what the article is about. That is until one dives into the reading and figures that there is much more nuance to it.

An opinion piece from Adam Grant was recently published with the headline “Your Most Ambivalent Relationships Are the Most Toxic.” Reading the article, I noticed how the relationship between the headline and the article could be seen as a description of the article. The headline seemed to say what the article was about. But the article didn’t fully align with the headline. To me, its predictability had been lost and ambivalence appeared.

In this case, it made me curious and instead of skimming the article, I reread it to understand it better and seek ways to gain clarity. Finding more clarity did lead to me finding more kindness towards the content of the article, which links well with a Brené Brown quote in the article: “Clear is kind.”

But as with relationships and as another quote in the article says: “The mix of good and bad here isn’t healthy for us.” I’m not sure the headline and the article have the best possible relationship as their respective objectives don’t seem to be fully aligned.

And yet, it is nothing I can change. What I could change was to give myself as much clarity as possible to understand the message in the article. In doing this I appreciated how ambivalence invited me to gain more clarity.

The discomfort of not knowing can’t always be dissolved, but giving oneself a chance to gain a better understanding will transform the relationship. And that might be sufficient and more effective than remaining ambivalent and establishing meaning without engaging with the other.


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