COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

Cognitive Dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling or state of mind that arises when your beliefs don’t align with your attitudes or actions. This generates a sense of mental discomfort resulting in an alteration in your behaviours and belief to reduce the pain and restore balance.

Cognitive Dissonance explains so many of our everyday behaviours and appears as an unpleasant sensation of physical tension. To understand cognitive Dissonance, we first need to discuss what cognition is.

Cognition is a belief, attitude, value or emotion. We all hold a bunch of cognitions all the time. These cognitions will either have a relationship with each other or not. If they agree with each other, they are consonant or consistent. But our cognitions don’t have to agree all the time; they can actually disagree. Whenever you have two cognitions that don’t agree or are incongruity, you experience psychological or cognitive Dissonance.

Do you expect a straight answer that you can put into an effective action plan, but it seems like all you are getting are contradicting and confusing? Whenever something that does not come out the way we want happens, we have two options. One is to blame ourselves, and the other option is to blame somebody else. Our default response is usually to blame somebody else. Of course, we all want peace of mind, balance, or internal consistency. But when we have conflicting thoughts, we will act in such a way to eliminate the mental stress and discomfort.

A FEW EXAMPLES OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

Let’s check out some common examples of Cognitive Dissonance.

∙ A smoker tells himself that smoking-related diseases happen only to people with a family history of smoking-related problems or heavy smokers.

∙ An individual that considers himself an environmentalist but drives a gas-guzzling, highly-polluting vehicle.

∙ A wife who endures domestic violence, believing that her husband loves her and that he only beats her because she has disappointed or hurt him somehow. She begins to work on herself to please him, even when it is against her beliefs.

Cognitive Dissonance is both valuable for understanding ourselves and, at the same time, can be manipulative. The degree of discomfort varies per individual and by how well the person endures self-contradiction. Sometimes a person will, quite naturally and even subconsciously, try to decrease the amount of cognitive Dissonance they feel by abandoning one or more of these values. The tragic truth is that values such as “I want to live a long and healthy life” are often pushed aside to decrease the amount of Cognitive Dissonance felt.

SOME CAUSES OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

∙ Forced Compliance Behavior: It occurs when you are forced to do something inconsistent with your belief. Something in the line of “I don’t want to do this”, but their actions actually did it.

∙ Decision Making: Making decisions can generally arouse Dissonance. Suppose you have to decide between accepting a job offer in a beautiful part of the country and turning down the job offer to stay close to your loved ones. You would definitely experience Cognitive Dissonance either way. Both options have their pros and cons, and choosing one can seem like an “opportunity cost”. That is, deciding to forgo one thing for another. You must also be ready to accept the cons of the chosen alternative.

HOW CAN YOU RECOGNIZE WHEN YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM COGNITIVE DISSONANCE?

It can be challenging to know if you are suffering from Cognitive Dissonance.However, the following signs may indicate you are experiencing cognitive Dissonance:

∙ Confusion

∙ General discomfort without any feasible or clear source

∙ Conflict feelings over a disputed subject matter

∙ Being conscious of conflicting views and/or desired but don’t know what to do.

Specifically, you will need to study yourself and search within. Consider this simple question: “Are you anxious?” Of course, the most frequent answer is no. But If I paraphrase the question like this: “Do you often worry and feel overwhelmed that find yourself thinking you can’t get some things done?” The majority of people will give an honest answer, which is the most frequently missed form of counterproductive thinking.

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE?

Cognitive Dissonance can cause discomfort, psychological stress, and anxiety. And the degree of these effects often depends on the disparity between the conflicting beliefs, how much the opinions mean to that person, and how well the person copes with self-contradiction.

HOW CAN COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IMPACT THE CHOICES WE MAKE?

Cognitive Dissonance can be an issue if you begin to rationalize or justify destructive behaviours. When it goes unaddressed, not only can it cause angst, but it also leads to impaired decision-making. It can help identify the Dissonance and ask yourself questions like, How did I get to this place? ‘Why did I get to this point? How do I challenge this? How can I resolve it?

HOW TO USE COGNITIVE DISSONANCE TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS

Cognitive Dissonance is a powerful mechanism to strengthen the decisions you make or inspire new choices more suited to how the world has changed. This means that your subconscious will attempt to shape your reality, whatever your thoughts’ primary focus is. Therefore, you must be accountable for your thought processes if you want to be successful. Cognitive Dissonance comes to the fore when your current reality does not fit with your thoughts. Thus you are in a state of holding two ideas of a contrasting nature simultaneously. For better or worse, your brain will try to reach a point of homeostasis, or balance, with the outside world.

HOW TO RESOLVE COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

Fixing Cognitive Dissonances can often bring positive changes – and it isn’t about making huge changes to our lives. Sometimes, a slight shift in perspective can go a long way towards a healthier thought pattern. The most important thing is identifying the cognitive Dissonance, assessing it, and determining how to resolve it. You must identify your values and those values that belong to someone else’s. And if you are going to take other people’s values, then you must ask yourself why. Furthermore, you can reduce cognitive Dissonance in one of these two ways:

a) Change one or more existing beliefs and behaviours to make the connection between at least two elements a consonant one. When one of the disagreeing parts is a behaviour, you can eliminate or change the behaviour. But this method of resolving Cognitive Dissonance can make it difficult for people to change or eliminate addicted behavioural responses, such as giving up drinking.

b) Add new information that outweighs the dissonant behaviours. For instance, thinking that drinking causes liver damage may lead to Dissonance if you drink. However, adding new information like “research hasn’t proven it that drinking causes liver damage” may lower the Dissonance.

When Cognitive Dissonance is appropriately addressed, it can bring about greater self-awareness and better decision-making.

FINAL THOUGHT

Life can be complicated, and can at times, be challenging for our beliefs and actions. However, Being aware of these distressing dissonances is a vital step in addressing them. Also note that Cognitive Dissonance may resolve over time. Send All Request & Donations To: 2288 Gunbarrel Rd. Suite 154/388, Chattanooga/TN 37421. Our Cash App: $LoyalDetermined

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