Cognitive Dissonance

cog·ni·tive dis·so·nance
noun
PSYCHOLOGY
1. the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.


My therapist told me that when our minds are in a state of conflict, when our bodies are trying to adjust to things that our mind cannot perceive, it is usually because our actions do not align to our value and belief system.

This week, like many weeks, I found myself in a conundrum. I value the collective human experience. I believe we each hold inherent value ― value that cannot be changed or made less or made more. Yet, my therapist made me very aware that I am hard on myself. On most days, I cannot find the value to place within myself. I cannot find the energy or logic to realize that my experiences are valid. I find myself thinking that “other people have it worst” or “other people can be happy with so little or so much, nevertheless they are happy”. Logically, I know that you cannot “find” value. You will always carry it. Logically, all experiences are valid simply because you lived through them. Logically, you are allowed to feel pain and feel happiness whether or not you believe in a god. That is the decree of the human experience.

We are capable, we are valuable, we are here. That’s part of what matters.

 

I would like to think of myself as an advocate for mental health awareness, and a fighter to de-stigmatize mental illness, yet I find myself in this place where I validate the experiences of others without validating my own.

Collectively, humankind is not so kind. We really fu*ked up the world environmentally, politically, and socially.

Yet, I have always held the belief that people are inherently good. People grow into making good or bad choices. It’s how we lead our lives that matter rather than how we are born into our lives.

When was the last time you felt conflicted about a decision you made? What prompted you to act? What made you hesitant? Did it reflect what you believe?

We can be so hard on ourselves about a decision we have made. Even if it’s a decision we knew was in good-nature. One day, I would like to go to bed and not just say to myself, but actually believe that I did the best I could with all I had.

I don’t really believe that fate is the sole determinant for how our lives play out. I believe we are born into lifetimes of histories. I believe we are born into a home that may or not feel like home.

We are born into a world of decisions that will make us who we are or make us feel like we are not who we want to be.

 

Regardless, once we make a decision sometimes the cards will fall. It might hurt the people we love, and may completely change the choices we can make afterwards. Your life will be filled with choices, so even if the decision prior really messed things up, you have the choice of what you want to do when the pieces fall. The reality has changed, and the picture that you broke are now past tense. The choices you have now are choices only you can construct. You don’t always have to glue together the same picture.

Trust the process. Trust yourself. Trust others. And when you can’t do any of those things, keep making (thoughtful) decisions. The pieces won’t always line up with time, but when you get things just as right as you can sometimes there’s a sense of harmony if only briefly. That’s okay.

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