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How To Overcome Cognitive Dissonance


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As humans, it is essential to have consistent thought patterns, actions, and a set belief system. Harmony between thought and action is what defines our being and makes us unique. 

However, when there is a mismatch between your belief system and actions, you may feel uncomfortable and resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. This is termed cognitive dissonance and can be a cause of tremendous mental unrest. 

Often, people who experience dissonance will either try to rationalize their actions or feel ashamed. It is essential to know that you aren’t alone, and feelings of dissonance are common among people, especially those who have grown up in an unhealthy environment. 

In addition, an unhealthy work environment, religious teachings, or social pressure may force you to carry out specific actions that go against your beliefs. As such, you may experience feelings of anxiety, stress, or embarrassment, which can affect your self-esteem. 

Therefore, it is crucial to overcome cognitive dissonance and gain control over your thought patterns and actions. Here’s my advice on how you can do this: 

#1 Try to change your behavior: If you know smoking can cause cancer and smoke nonetheless, it leads to feelings of dissonance. To overcome this feeling, you must change your behavior. Try to quit smoking and join programs or support groups that will help you deal with tobacco addiction. 

#2 Change your beliefs: Try to acquire new information that will help counter your dissonant thoughts. Remember, the mind is designed to protect you and filter out data that causes conflicting beliefs. So, if you know that smoking is injurious to health, you may seek scientific information that states that regulated smoking does not cause cancer. 

#3 Reduce the importance of your beliefs: There are ways you can resolve dissonance without changing your beliefs or behavior. For instance, some people might justify smoking by stating that life is too short not to indulge in favorite habits. 

Another example of this is when you are working at a job that you dislike and yet show up to work every day. This creates dissonant feelings, and you can try to overcome them by reframing your thought process and recognizing the benefits of the job. 

So, you may reduce the importance of the dissonant feelings by stating that you are earning a good salary or learning new things at the job. 

#4 Consult with a counselor: If your feelings of dissonance arise from long-held spiritual or religious beliefs or a personal relationship, try consulting with a counselor. They may be able to guide you in the right direction and help eliminate any conflicting thoughts you might have. 

We have all had to overcome cognitive dissonance at some point. What steps did you take to overcome this?

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