Cognitive dissonance, the incompatibility between being and doing

They call it cognitive dissonance , and it is that feeling of emotional discomfort that we experience whenever they harbor in our mind ideas and decisions that are incompatible with each other or with what we are. It often happens that we make choices for ourselves and for our life, following what the heart or head tells us, or trusting in our feelings, values ​​and beliefs.

But what happens when everything we have always believed in clashes with the choices we make? The term cognitive dissonance was coined for the first time by the psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957 and is now used in psychology to indicate the lack of consistency between the beliefs, values ​​and behaviors imbued in each of us.

Probably it will have happened to everyone, at least once in their life, to feel bad for something that has been done, for a wrong choice because it really didn’t belong to us. Here, we have also experienced the discomfort faced with the incompatibility between being and doing , and we know that it does not make us feel good. Rather than blame ourselves, however, it would be better to try to understand why we ended up in that uncomfortable situation and how we can change behavior, attitude or environment to correct our emotions.

This happens above all with the things we care about most, or in romantic relationships . For example, we know that we are with a person who is not the right one, because he wants to change us and does not gratify us, because he disappoints all our expectations, because he does not support us and on the contrary, it makes us feel bad. Yet we choose to be always there, in the only place where we should not be : we know it, but we cannot do without it. Because?

The answer is very simple: we tend to justify our choices for fear of making a wrong decision or doing something incorrectly. Rather than admitting that we have invested time and resources in a relationship that had no future, we justify the contradiction with our attitudes or with even more dangerous new ideas.

Cognitive dissonance is something that we automatically activate for our well-being, we deceive ourselves rather than face pain or admit that we have made a wrong decision. The truth is that we are human, as it is to err: hiding from ourselves what are weaknesses will only make us feel worse.

This is why it is essential to understand when we start using the mechanism of cognitive dissonance, so as not to upset who we are with lies and deceptions to the detriment of ourselves. Rather, we must learn to accept, even in mistakes, grow with them and stop brooding in order to live the present and be happy.

 

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