Why can't you just do what you say you are going to do?
On Saturday I was wandering through the woods after a fresh snowfall with a friend who is deeply spiritual and shares my love for nature. The craic was good as the Irish would say. We started talking about 'cognitive dissonance' and how much it shows up in our lives. We were specifically discussing the internal stress and tension that occurs when our actions don't line up with our beliefs. For example, we all know that there is a serious environmental crisis. And we know that we need to make changes in our lives if we are going to turn things around. And yet, we continue to make choices, largely out of convenience, that we know have an impact environmentally. Using plastic wrap, wasting food and/or boiling water using electricity impacts the environment. Now you know! And if you continue to do these things, and claim you care about the destruction of the earth, you are living with cognitive dissonance. Sorry. But it isn't just around environmental issues. We know a lot of our choices are hurting us or hurting someone else. And yet, we continue to make these choices and live with cognitive dissonance. Anyone else eating junk food? My friend and I were wondering what the impact of cognitive dissonance is on our lives. How much stress and anxiety are we all living with? And how can we move into more integrated ways of being? It is a big topic. I'm not sure one walk was enough time to go deep into it. I think awareness is the first step. You can ease into becoming aware of where your actions and beliefs are not aligned. Pay attention to your choices. When you catch yourself saying, "I know I shouldn't but...." explore what is happening in that moment. Do you really believe you shouldn't? Or are you responding to social pressure? And if you do believe something isn't beneficial and you still go forward with the action, think about why you are going against your beliefs. It isn't easy work. Working with a coach or a good therapist can help. And of course, there are long walks in the woods with a friend. I'm recommending two books below that have helped me think through cognitive dissonance. One is specifically on alcohol and why we drink so much in our society. The other one is how our need to be liked is keeping us from living our own lives. Both books are worth your time. (Click on books for affiliate links)