Dr. Andrea Hollingsworth
Hollingsworth Consulting

For years, I’ve maintained a small psychotherapy practice. Most of my clients tell me they want to feel better, more like themselves. They want to be less anxious, less sad. They want to be more satisfied, more focused. They want happier, healthier relationships. In a word—they want to bring a calm, content presence to their lives, and to the people and things therein.

Over time, I’ve discovered one hidden factor that often keeps people from this state of wellbeing: chronic inward conflict.

Feeling Torn is a Part of Life

It’s normal to feel torn and unsure at times. This is especially true of leaders, who are called upon to make important decisions with significant implications.

Haste usually isn’t a good thing. A patient, measured, collaborative approach is best.

However, there is such a thing as getting caught in the mental mire of indecision. When this happens, we just can’t decide what to do, which direction to go, what to say, to whom we should listen, or all the above.

We’re stuck. And we’re afraid to get unstuck.

When inner conflict takes root and doesn’t resolve, it directly affects our mood and performance. We can become irritable, distracted, and apprehensive. There are physiological reasons for this.

The Neuropsychology of Inner Conflict

Neuroscientists have found that inner conflict, ambiguity, and uncertainty are largely processed in the anterior cingulate cortex. This is the same part of the brain that processes pain, both emotional and physical. Uncertainty is also associated with heightened noradrenaline release.[1]

When we remain stuck in confusion and unresolvedness about our direction, our brain processes it as pain—whether we’re aware of it or not.

And just like other forms of chronic pain, this distress becomes a weight that drags us down. It frequently shows up as anxiety—impacting our ability to control our thoughts, focus on tasks and people, [2] and be happy in general.[3]

Such states make it near impossible to show up with mindful, compassionate awareness to and with ourselves and others.

Make the Decision

Is there a decision you need to make about your work, your relationships, your life? Have you been sitting on it a bit too long?

In my work with clients, I often find that people know, deep down, what must be done. But, understandably, they’re afraid of change, or worried about failing, or concerned about the inevitable pain of repercussions.

All of this makes sense.

And? You deserve peace. You deserve inward integration. Such a strong, settled feeling only comes when you bravely face into the conflict and work toward resolution, no matter the effects. It will strengthen your spine, soften your heart, and deepen your presence.

About Andrea

Dr. Andrea Hollingsworth is Founder and CEO of Hollingsworth Consulting, author of the bestselling book The Compassion Advantage (2024), and one of today’s leading global experts on compassionate leadership. Since 2008, she has been studying, speaking, and writing about the science and spirituality of human emotions and relationships. Her articles have been published more than a dozen times in peer-reviewed journals, and she has taught at prestigious institutions like Princeton, Boston University, and Loyola University Chicago. In addition, Dr. Andrea has delivered talks to audiences at some of the top-ranked universities in the world—including Cambridge University in England and Heidelberg University in Germany.

Dr. Andrea spends most of her time inspiring leaders and teams to use The Compassion Advantage to build supercharged organizations through cultures of care— especially in times of challenge and change. Andrea lives with her family in Minnesota where she cheers hard at her son’s soccer games and relishes every opportunity to visit the north shore of Lake Superior.