How Cognitive Dissonance Is Sabotaging Your Life and 3 Ways to Overcome It



You will learn about cognitive dissonance in this article. When there's a disconnect between what we believe is correct and what we're doing, it's called cognitive dissonance. This leads to a sense of contradiction in our life.

This indicates that we think one thing but act on a different one. Dissonance gives the impression of having one foot on one boat and the other on another. The more our behaviors and beliefs diverge, the more uncomfortable we get, just like the two boats.

We are really uncomfortable when there are unresolved gaps between our thoughts and our actions. You can do all the coping, meditation, and self-care you want, but you're not going to feel good if you can't figure out cognitive dissonance.

When it comes to peace of mind, there is no alternative for honesty. Jenny, for example, is aware that she needs to exercise more. She isn't overweight, but her body feels sluggish and she gets out of breath when walking up a flight of stairs. She knows she would feel better if she exercised out, and she feels a twinge of disappointment and guilt every day she doesn't.

Now, dissonance makes us uncomfortable. We feel uneasy, guilty, or unsure when we experience dissonance. Dissonance makes us feel phony or self-conscious. This emotion isn't just in our heads; it causes a physical strain as well. And surely this isn't a terrible thing? Discomfort might push us to make a change.

When it comes to a belief about ourselves, this is the strongest. So, for example, the thinking "oh, I just hit someone in the face" combined with the action "oh, I just punched someone in the face" is going to elicit intense feelings of regret, guilt, and disappointment.

We can feel more at ease, like ourselves more, and have more clarity when we overcome dissonance. Integrity is the polar opposite of dissonance. Integrity is more than just being truthful with our words; it also entails aligning our behavior with our principles. And, in my perspective, the road to higher self-worth, more serene motions, and a successful purposeful existence is paved with honesty.

Integrity is all about bridging the gap between our thoughts and our actions. To live a life of significance, joy, and growth, you must first resolve cognitive dissonance. So, if you want to improve your ability to feel and feel more serene, you must learn how to deal with the gaps in your life. 

Write about one area in your life when your actions do not correspond to your ideas or values. What impact does this have on you? In relation to it, how do you feel about yourself? It's critical to recognize and address these issues to the greatest extent feasible. When they're just left to boil, we feel deceived, impotent, and insecure.

Dissonance makes us feel uneasy and false, but integrity makes us feel safe, capable, and whole.

There are now three techniques to deal with dissonance, but they are not all equal. As a result, the first step is to;

01-Align our behavior with our ideals. Changing our actions is usually the best method to close the gap when our values are positive and helpful. So, let's have a look at how this would work with Jenny, shall we? It may sound simple, but if she started finding a way to exercise a little bit each day, her dissatisfaction would be replaced with pride. Isn't that straightforward?

The contradiction disappears when we modify our behaviors to match our values. This works well when our values are positive and helpful, as they should be if we want to be the kind of person we want to be. You don't have to be perfect to be on the right track.

What counts most is that you are attempting to live the way you believe you should. Okay, the second technique to bridge the gap is to;

02-Align our thinking with our actions-So, since our emotions are based on false beliefs, we need to change our thinking habits, right?

In such a situation, rather than trying to change our actions to achieve some improbable goal, we should adjust our thinking to align with our values and habits. As a result, perfectionism, all-or-nothing thinking, and unrealistic expectations are frequent.

So, remember how Jenny believes she has to exercise more in the example? And she isn't going to do it. So she exercised more in the past to solve that problem, and then she felt better.

What if Jenny has an eating disorder and is already exercising three to four hours a day, but she "knows" it's not enough? She berates herself, thinking, "Oh, if only I worked out more, I would like myself."

"I don't know why I'm so lazy," she says. right. So, in this scenario, her erroneous thinking has resulted in unhealthy unreasonable demands for herself. So, what should she do to overcome her feelings of inadequacy? She believes she has to exercise more, but she is unable to do so, thus she feels horrible, right?

 She needs to adjust her mindset to match reality. She needs to respect health and moderation more, as well as increase her self-worth and let go of the perfectionistic goals that are keeping her sick and sad.

So she can feel more at ease with her thoughts and actions if she shifts her thinking to align with a healthier set of behaviors, such as exercising for less than an hour every day.

As we modify our thinking to align with our beliefs, that is the second technique to close the gap. Right now, the third option for closing this gap is the worst option for trying to close gaps. It's a way of justifying our actions.

03-Stop Justification and Rationalization-So numbing, blaming, ignoring, or simply denying the reality that we have a gap justify our attempts to overcome this sensation of dissonance, right? So going back to the standing on two boat analogy,  as the two boats separate, your legs begin to stretch apart and weaken, and it becomes painful and harder to stand. 

But instead of the climbing board one boat to relieve the pain of pulling the two boats together, you just keep taking Tylenol, right? You just pop a bunch of painkillers. This is what justification does. 

Your problem isn't solved, but at least it doesn't hurt as much.  Now, this is obviously a bad situation. But despite the harm that justifying causes, research shows that it's the most common way people do respond when they've done something wrong. 

People, rather than changing their beliefs to match their activities, most of the time alter their beliefs to meet their behaviors. As a result, they say things like "No one will ever know.

It's something that everyone does. It isn't all bad. She's a lot worse than I am. I am not a horrible person in any way." else they'll defend themselves by saying things like "well, I just stole this because I needed it more." All of this is justification. It's all about knowing what you're doing is wrong in your heart and making excuses so you don't feel guilty about it.

Never disregard that nagging feeling of guilt. Don't try to ignore it or make it go away. Take some time to reflect. Take some time to think about what you actually want to do. It's easy for us to try to make ourselves feel better, yet this only makes us unhappy in the long term.

So, if you want to improve your emotional processing, you must learn to recognize the indications of rationalization and justification. So, returning to Jenny, she values health and believes she should care for her body, but she does not exercise.

So, if she were trying to defend her actions, she may say, "Well, I just don't have time to exercise." or she might get even nastier - isn't justification nasty? "At the very least, I'm not as fat as my sister," she would say. "It's not my fault that I'm overweight; it's my genes," she would add, or "it's not my fault that I'm overweight."

And she'd use them as an excuse to avoid feeling guilty about not following her ideals. Isn't it true that any of those things could be true? Isn't it possible that her obesity is genetic? But she merely needed that as an excuse to explain herself.

So understanding what you truly value and what is beneficial to you is very different from rationalizing, which is attempting to avoid feeling guilty when there is a mismatch.

Okay, people, I have to interrupt because I was really really focused on the issue of cognitive dissonance when I was producing this movie, and I maybe should have selected a less-laden scenario.

So I just want to set the record straight. Your value is unaffected by your size or appearance. At any size, you can be healthy. To live incongruence, you don't have to lose weight or change anything about yourself.

To be a nice person, you don't have to look a specific way or weigh a certain amount of weight, right? Your body is a tool for success in the world, not a decorative item to be objectified.

Now, with that said, the truth is that with everything you value, actual hurdles may arise, challenges over which you have no control. So it might be genetics, racism, sexism, or whatever other situations you can't control.

It's all about being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to honoring your principles and resolving dissonance. As a result, it's as if you set out your values, desires, and challenges on a table, and then decide how you'll act.

So you might argue, "Even though I'm genetically predisposed to be bigger, I'm going to choose to exercise because I value exercise anyhow." Alternatively, you could consider all of these aspects of your life and conclude that "I value health, but I value reading more" or "I value spending more time with my friends, and the obstacles to exercising aren't worth it to me, so I'll choose to spend time with my family and friends over fighting my biology."

 Whether you choose to exercise or not, that cognitive dissonance can be overcome since you made a decision rather than just feeling like you should be doing something you aren't. It's all about being honest with yourself about your decisions when it comes to resolving cognitive dissonance. 

So, even though I'm using the example of someone who wants to lose weight, your worth is not determined by your weight. To be a nice person, you don't need to exercise. It's all about deciding what you value and where you'll focus your efforts. Anyway, I hope that clarifies things. Now, let's return to the lesson.

"Oh, at least I'm not as fat as my sister," doesn't seem very nice, does it? But that's because justifying is a cruel thing to do. It's a disgusting lie we tell ourselves to hide our true feelings, and we do it all the time within our thoughts.

So Jenny cares about her health, yet she feels horrible when she doesn't act in accordance with that value. Jenny is stuck in the same cycle of believing she should exercise, not exercising, and trying not to notice or feel bad about it because of each of these justifications.

We all justify ourselves, but the less we do it, the better. So let's take a look at some of these justification and rationalization indicators. These include blaming others, comparing yourself to others in order to elevate or degrade them, and defining yourself as "well, I'm a decent person even though I just stole that thing from my boss; I'm a good worker."

Alternatively, you may excuse yourself "Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, that I can't help myself; I'm a nasty person. I'm just a horrible person." Excuses are justifications.

When we know we're doing the right thing, we don't need reasons. So, while Jenny's genes may predispose her to be overweight, it would seem reasonable that she prioritizes exercise in order to maintain her health.

The only reason she needed to remind herself that her genes were the way we, the way they were to keep her from feeling bad about something she knew she valued - she values exercise, right

I once heard a clinical psychologist whose responsibility was to determine whether inmates were responsible for their crimes or not, right? So basically he was evaluating them to see if they had the mental capacity to understand guilt and to understand right and wrong.  And he said that the way he could always tell is if they excused their actions if they had reasons and rationalizations for why they committed the crime.

If they used a reason, a rationalization, an excuse, or blame, that indicated that they did have a sense of guilt, that they understood enough that what they did was wrong, that they needed to cover it up. The inmates who were actually innocent due to,  you know, an inability to understand guilt, they didn't have any reasons or excuses for what they did - they just did it. 

Another sign of justification is denial. There are also extreme statements, right? Minimizing your problem, horriblizing others. And in this, you know, if you catch yourself trying to convince others that you're right, that’s another sign of justification. Holding different standards for yourself than others.

All of these things, all of this justification, almost always results in agony. Isn't this the kind of mental purgatory that manifests as shoulds? "I suppose I should exercise more, but I just don't have the time." "I should be nicer, but he's such a jerk," or "I should be nicer, but he's such a jerk." Shoulds are one way we cause ourselves pain.

Keep an eye out for my forthcoming LESSON on how to deal with those nagging thoughts of obligation. When it comes to resolving cognitive dissonance, the best way to do it is to take the time to clarify and observe your values.

We’re going to spend time on that in an upcoming LESSON. Notice what your thoughts and your behaviors are. Write about them. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses.  And choose whether you need to change your thoughts or change your behaviors to create more integrity in your life. 

I encourage you to take time regularly to do an inventory with yourself once a week or once a day or once a month, and take a look at your life and just check-in and ask yourself "am I being the person I believe I should be?" and if not, try to be one percent better each day. 

This is all about striving for integrity, working hard to have your actions line up with  The type of person you aspire to be. Integrity is the foundation of self-respect, and it is, in my opinion, necessary for overcoming depression and anxiety. But, after all, no one is flawless, right? I make a lot of mistakes.

These chasms exist in all of us. What is important to me is what we do with these voids. As much as I attempt to bring my life into line, there is a gap between what is right and what I do. 

And I work hard to improve myself each day, the only way for me to actively accept the reality that I have this gap is through the grace of God and trying hard every day to be humble, be willing to change myself, and be brutally honest with myself as much as possible. 

As you work to clarify your cognitive dissonance, as you work to understand your values and the kind of person you want to be and bring your action and your values in line with each other, you're going to find greater peace and greater happiness.

And as you stop justifying as much, you're going to have better relationships.  Thank you for reading, and taking care. What would you say is the highlight of this article? Share your thoughts below.

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