The How & Why of Cognitive Dissonance
Welcome to week two of a four-part series on the why and how of self- sabotage.
There is no doubting that life often throws us curveballs, and sometimes the bad ones are the ones that form our deepest beliefs.
Sometimes, events come to challenge those hard-wired beliefs and we tell ourselves lies so that we can hold onto our often pessimistic, self-limiting beliefs.
Thus, we have the not-so Joys of Cognitive Dissonance.
What is Cognitive Dissonance?
For example, if someone you trust lies to you early in life, it can be easy to believe that everyone lies. We can hold onto this belief even though later life experience shows us that there are lots of trustworthy and honest people out there.
You form a belief that people will eventually lie to you so that you’ll be ready and believe it when you suffer the inevitable betrayal.
It is obvious why this sort of thinking is very self-sabotaging.
If you constantly believe that others will lie to you and betray you, you keep yourself from ever truly trusting anyone. This can rob you of healthy, meaningful relationships with others.
When you’ve failed even though you have worked hard, it can be easy to believe that you will ALWAYS fail, no matter how hard you try.
You even disregard the repeated success that shows you’re actually capable of achieving. So why bother trying in the first place many people tell themselves?
When you keep selecting the option of NOT believing what you see in reality, you get to keep your old, comfortable beliefs. The ingrained incorrect beliefs that were most likely put there by someone else. … but at what cost?
Luckily, there are steps you can take to overcome cognitive dissonance.
1. Safety – you have to dig deep inside yourself and find the courage to believe that it’s SAFE to challenge your limiting beliefs.
2. Work – you have to work hard to overcome those incorrect beliefs when reality shows you that they’re wrong.
Yes, you have to admit that you were wrong.
But the incredible thing about admitting to yourself that you were wrong is you can step into the light of truth and accept a much better reality. A better future.
3. Reconciliation – once you can work out and reconcile the reasons behind your previous limiting beliefs, you can address the uncomfortable insecurities that they were hiding. (every person on earth has them)
In the end, the formula for overcoming cognitive dissonance is:
Tiny Steps + Courage + Deliberate, Messy & Uncomfortable Action.
I chose to use the word messy in the above sentence. Don’t use the other form of self-sabotage which is procrastination. Take action and don’t wait for everything to be perfect to instigate action.
Remedies for Self-Sabotage
If you want to stop self-sabotage and finally get out of your own way, it’s crucial to understand why you’re doing it — what need is it filling, what emotion is it covering?
Then you need to apply a little creativity to identify better, healthier, happier, and more productive ways to meet those needs.
Try this simple guide to help you begin the journey of rewriting your self-sabotaging programming:
The cure is Self-Awareness,
1. Inventory – Reflect back on past experiences and get curious about your own self-sabotage.
- What exactly does your self-sabotage look like?
- How and when does it typically start?
- What are the unhealthy patterns?
By taking the time to reflect back and notice any repeating patterns, you can more easily recognize when it’s time to take over and kick those traits in the rear end.
Then take a moment to pause and observe what’s happening in your mind and body – what’s triggering them, and how it feels physically.
2. Challenge – Once you’ve spotted your self-sabotaging habits, it’s time to challenge them if they are doing anything for you or just holding you back.
If you want to stop procrastinating, you first need to realize that it’s helping you deal with your own fear of success. If you want to stop over-committing, you need to recognize that it fills your need to feel useful by ignoring your own needs.
You really have to ask yourself what your self-sabotaging habits ‘do’ for you – and then do the harder work of uncovering some underlying issues that you need to work through.
Adult/Childhood trauma, feelings of inadequacy, and even a pleasant life without challenges to build resilience can all lead to self-sabotaging behaviors.
3. Create a new pattern – This is the great part where you get to choose your next adventure!
Once you’ve spotted your negative self-sabotaging habits and rooted out the cause of them, you can do the great work of making a new, much better pattern, one that serves your end goals and helps you heal and grow with confidence.
Think about who or what you really want to be – and start aligning your daily actions to that potential.
Use affirmations to help ease your negative self-talk, so the next time you find yourself turning to your old self-sabotaging ways, you can confidently choose your new, self-affirming solutions. I have included my 40 Minute Success affirmation video below.
Most importantly, have some self-compassion. Old programming & habits die hard and you will most likely find yourself falling back into old patterns.
Just stop, recognize that you’re aware, and remind yourself of why these patterns didn’t actually work for you in the first place – then give yourself the opportunity to do better. You know you will.
This work takes time, and sometimes you need outside help to guide you down the path. Reach out to overcome your harmful self-sabotaging ways. We have many people available who are trained in self-sabotage healing.
Be aware during this coming week of when you slip into self-sabotaging patterns and start working on replacing them with empowering ones.
To you success