Cognitive dissonance is the scientific term for the angst we experience when a contradiction arises between our thoughts, values or beliefs and our actions or outside conditions. Personally, I enjoy acknowledging this emotion and using it as fuel for development. If something feels wrong in the way I do things or in the way I am perceiving events directed at myself, it’s time for a change.
There is something romantic about constantly feeling out of sorts and out of place with the world. While this can be the perfect excuse for discussions about the meaning of life over a glass of wine with friends it is also very counterproductive. My advice: don’t indulge in this powerless mental state, get to the root of it and then turn it around.
Cognition is what makes us human. We also love comfort and tend to get stuck in our comfort zones. And this is what makes getting over cognitive dissonance so difficult. So how to do it?
I recently turned 30, which also brought up a lot of soul searching and rummaging about where I am, where I wanted to be when I was younger and where I see myself during the next 5, 10, 15 etc. years. Because things are never perfect (and nor will they ever be), dissonance appeared. I visualized it as contrasting colors overlapping, turning a somewhat murky shade.
What I realized is that there is a fine line between focusing on something for the short term and letting it take over your being. There will always be lifestyle changes that we have to make and we will sometimes (maybe more often than not) be tired or jaded. So instead of letting the colors mix randomly, I chose to influence their brush strokes and match the nuances.
When you have long term goals and ideals, when you don’t let yourself forget you “why”, you’ll be ok. There are unlimited resources coming from this commitment to be true to yourself. For example, if I am at peace with myself and I know that I am constantly working in line with my “why”, I can tackle the day to day disruptions and not let them overcome me. I can see the colors match beautifully again.
There is no way to avoid cognitive dissonance so use it to your advantage. Reconnect with yourself, change, and adjust what you can, while not forgetting to enjoy life and count your blessings.