- the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change. (Source: Google)
- In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance occurs when a person holds contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values, and is typically experienced as psychological stress when they participate in an action that goes against one or more of them. (Source: Wikipedia)
We strive for internal consistency — it’s comfortable. Inconsistency (say, something we believe is proven wrong) is uncomfortable and we are motivated to avoid and reduce it. It is also uncomfortable to acknowledge what we once believed is false, or that we have been duped or taken advantage of. With this, if anything goes against our beliefs we will go so far as flat out deny and double down on incorrect beliefs in order to avoid internal stress. We self-justify (essentially lie to ourselves).
Just like what is familiar isn’t always good, what is comfortable isn’t always beneficial. If we continue to self-justify in order to avoid a truth we will be operating from a dishonest place, from a negative place, from a place that can keep us from obtaining our goals. When we hold onto believes made with outdated or missing information (or when we believe what we want to believe despite evidence proving otherwise so we can remain comfortable) we hurt ourselves.
In order to find fulfillment, build connections and have the ability to reach goals and succeed we need to allow ourselves to change and evolve our thoughts and beliefs. Understanding cognitive dissonance and how it affects us will give us the opportunity to change our belief systems, which can result in changes in bad habits and obtaining goals.
Featured image photo by Runze Shi