I met the mother of cognitive dissonance…
but first, meet her spawn…
“Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying”.
So, Cognitive Dissonance, or CD for short, is the process by which our minds are split. A split mind, just so you know, is not a desirable state. Of two minds reduces your efficiency by half. Have you ever been in three minds? I have. It’s not a good or happy place to be.
But the most easily understood instance of CD comes on the good old shopping trip. Buy something, walk out of the store and you are bound to see something, within the hour or the day or the instant, which makes you regret your buy. Something cheaper, something of better quality at a marginally greater cost, something prettier, more useful. You get the drift. It works that way in most areas of our lives.
Getting married is such a moment for many. Suddenly someone else, someone else’s partner or the carefree single life seems to be infinitely more pleasing than what you are signing up for.
In fact, social marketers and psycho-ologists will tall you that CD will set in the minute you “decide” on something.
Wow! Why wow? Because in this world we inhabit, we are constantly faced by decisions. What, where, when, why, how much, why not, if, then, else, or, either, I wish, what if, ,ummmmm, brown, rye, white, tight, loose, far, near, save, spend……. endless list.
So there you have it, I met the mother of Cognitive Dissonance and her name is CHOICE.
Choice splits us apart. Cognitive Dissonance, keep us (inside) dissociated.
Any wistful reflection of a past choice and the endless re-runs on how you might have done it differently, said something, bought that other thing, spent a little more, complained a little less….. all echoes of CD that refuse to die. Still influencing you, consciously, every day.
And then I met the clan. Choice has many Sisters and they all go by the name of Variety.
And variety we have known, endlessly, is verily the spice of life.
And what would life be with a little spice eh?
This is the ultimate divide and rule game that we play victims to. I say play because you can choose to walk away anytime. Just like that.
First task is to write down your wants and needs on two separate pieces of paper.
Big enlightenment if you can be honest with yourself. Real wants, real needs only.
Choice is a cruel master. Next time you wish you had more choice, think about what you are inviting in. Split inducing, de-stabilizing Cognitive Dissonance.
Here sisters are even prettier. More distracting. And like in a hall of mirrors, they are an endless family.
Smash that mirror, literal and figurative.
See choice for what it is.
You will be more peaceful, guaranteed.
Now, will that be black or white?