Ambivalence points to bipolarity, which causes a thought movement between contradictory states (i.e love and hate, peace and violence, happiness and sorrow, good and evil etc.). These extremes affections, act like two ends of a see-saw, unable to balance the state of affections and keep moving from one state to another, hence the distress.

It is a common experience that if the mind settles in a particular state, the mind remain calms. This is irrespective of the state in which the mind is resting. After all settlement is not concerned about a particular state, it can be at ease any state. The mind is like a flowing river. When thoughts are flowing, peace settles in and when the flow breaks, the pressure of incoming thoughts cause distress.

When the mind is oscillating between the extremes “to be” or “not to be”, you experience distress. Let us frame these states as two why questions, “why” and “why not” states. When something impelling occurs, an external happening such as someone reprimand you or betray you or an internal happening such as reminiscence of any such happening in the past, the “why” question triggers. The “why” question can simply be “why is the happening?”. Now, this question has an effect of the mind such that it polarizes the mind. One part agrees with the happening and the other part disagrees with the happening.

The mind supports the non-happening and denounces the happening. Thus your mind splits as two opposing factions, agreeable one trying hard to eliminate the disagreeable one. This moment of instability when the mind swings between the states unable to choose is  “distress”. If you accept the “why not” side of the equation the mind settles on it’s own, because there is nothing left to accept.

A situation in contrast to the above said situation, can happen, after accepting, the happening state. After learning and accepting the “happening”, you experience peace. What if the “why” question pops up again. Now, you feel distress by the fact that you are not accepting the “happening”. We can frame the question as “why not this happening?”. Here the “why not” end is posing a question against the “why” end. Here, if you accept the “why” side your mind will soon settle.

These questions are two sides of the same coin. The mind will become calm on accepting both the sides that makes up the coin. Analogous to the example of the coin, the mind often only see one side of the equation. The mind exists only because of this one sided perception, it vanishes on accepting the other side.  The mind manifests itself as divisions, and exists as an internal tension. It does know that peace is abandonment of itself, so it tries to eliminate the divisions.

Distress is not exactly the “why” questions, but a “why” question on the “why” questions. Your ideal-ego, doesn’t approve questions(asked by ego-ideal) over a thought, as that makes you break away from the flow of thought. Thus distress is the conflict between contradictory “why” questions, “why” and “why not” or conflict between ideal-ego and ego-ideal.

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