How to Reduce Cognitive Dissonance for Better Mental Health

You know you ought to work out and even ponder the benefits. But you select to not go to the gym and rationalize the way you are wholesome – but you continue to really feel guilty. While this appears like an harmless scenario, it’s actually an on a regular basis instance of cognitive dissonance that may result in anxiety and self-criticism. And unfortunately, all of us expertise cognitive dissonance in a way or another. That’s why this text will teach you how to reduce cognitive dissonance and enhance your overall psychological health.

What Is Cognitive Dissonance?

Similar to the instance within the introduction, cognitive dissonance is psychological discomfort that outcomes from believing two conflicting ideas, values, or attitudes. For example, you love the style of meat and eat it regularly, however you continue to love animals and really feel responsible each time you go against this belief. As humans, we attempt to alleviate the ache we really feel by rejecting it, studying new methods round it, explaining it through different behaviors, and even avoiding new information. In a sense, we attempt to keep away from feeling ache when our behaviors contradict a long-standing perception we have. Therefore, cognitive dissonance can really feel difficult till we discover an answer to eliminate the again and forth we mentally feel.

5 Examples of Cognitive Dissonance

So, what does this again and forth look like in our on a regular basis lives? Here are a few examples to assist you perceive this psychological theory. 

  1. You have a lengthy list of responsibilities, however rather than engaged on them, you select to watch TV all day. When your roommate will get home, you make it look like you’ve been productive. 
  2. You undertake a brand new nutritious diet however really feel compelled to eat McDonalds. Yet after consuming it, you rationalize by telling your self you’ll skip dinner or exercise longer the subsequent day to really feel higher about the calories. 
  3. You smoke cigarettes knowing it's dangerous to your health. But to alleviate this guilt, you inform your self smoking helps decrease your anxiety, which makes it okay. 
  4. You describe your self as an honest person, however occasionally you lie to guard your self from conditions that may embarrass you or make you really feel inferior. For example, you lie to keep away from going out with a friend. Later, you really feel guilty, believing you ought to have told the truth, however select not to.
  5. You’re conscious of the dangerous outcomes of quick fashion on the environment. But you support shops that engage in these practices and rationalize it by saying it was an impulse buy due to emphasize levels. 

How to Reduce Cognitive Dissonance

1. Increase self-awareness

We often undergo life experiencing contradictions with out becoming conscious of their negative outcomes on our lives. For example, we may skip a workout, not realizing that a contradiction is accountable for our low mood. So, step one is to become conscious of those inconsistencies in your thoughts. You can do that through mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us discover when we’re caught in a cycle between two contradicting beliefs and creates space between self-criticism and acceptance. Over time, we learn to settle for we’re experiencing cognitive dissonance rather than resorting to judgement.

2. Challenge present beliefs

One of the best methods to learn how to reduce cognitive dissonance is to problem your present beliefs. But it’s additionally one of many most difficult. For example, long-standing beliefs related to faith or politics can be distressing if embedded in one’s identity. When this occurs, ask yourself, “Is this my belief, or did I undertake this perception from somebody else?” If the latter, query whether or not this perception is important to you separate out of your tradition or loved ones.

3. Add new beliefs

Adding new information to a cognitive dissonance can assist you reduce contradicting beliefs. For example, if you use smoking to destress however really feel responsible when you smoke due to its dangerous effects, search out new information that overrides the perception that it helps you destress. Learning that smoking may very well contribute to heightened ranges of anxiety and tension may be the perception you want to eliminate the dissonance and the behavior.

4. Reduce the importance

At first glance, a perception may appear actually important. But after deeper reflection, we can acknowledge how seemingly unimportant it is. For example, you may fear failure and rationalize all of the explanations why not going after a brand new profession alternative is bad for you. But after reflecting and diminishing the significance of the rejected alternative, you learn that failure can result in growth and success. So, you no longer fear it and instead learn to embrace it.

5. Investigate

When you end up distressed from cognitive dissonance, take a second and investigate. Ask yourself, “What are the 2 ideas that aren’t aligning with your beliefs?”. Then ask questions that immediate future change. For example, “What actions can I take to reduce that dissonance?” and “Do I want to change any behaviors or beliefs?”. Becoming an investigator of the issue will assist you higher perceive what’s important to you. Even if you’re not prepared to reduce the dissonance.

6. Recognize that it’s not always bad

While it may really feel horrible, cognitive dissonance isn’t always bad. In fact, it can motivate you to make positive changes in your life when you discover you maintain two contradicting beliefs. For example, if you wish to quit drinking and know it’s harmful, however nonetheless do it anyways due to your anxiety, recognizing this contradiction can function a motivator to quit. So, rather than punishing yourself, confront the contradiction and use it to motivate positive action.

When to Seek Help

Cognitive dissonance can be severely problematic if it causes you to rationalize behaviors that are dangerous to your self or to others. It can additionally become an issue if justifying the behavior outcomes in stress or anxiety that impacts your general functioning. Therefore if this occurs, it’s important to talk to a psychological well being professional. They will teach you how to reduce cognitive dissonance and assist you problem beliefs or ideas creating distress.

Remember, all of us expertise cognitive dissonance in some form. But becoming conscious of its impact in your life can result in positive change and permit you to develop new views that enhance the way you see your life and the world round you

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