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Cognitive Dissonance and How To Reduce It

That acutely painful feeling that you’re just not living the life that you know in your heart of hearts you should be living; there’s a name for it, it’s called Cognitive Dissonance, and here are four signs that it is ruining your life.


Cognitive Dissonance is at the heart of the majority of mental and emotional pain outside of physiological causes. The disconnect between your deeply held values on which you believe your life should be founded and the values your life seems to express, because of how you are presently living it, causes deep-seated distress. If you're feeling paralysed, stuck, caught in stomach-churning emotional turmoil, then I’ll bet that Cognitive Dissonance is at its heart.


Here are four kinds of pain to look out for:


  1. Poor Sleep: If your inner life is in conflict, then the first thing to suffer is your sleep. You may be experiencing dreams involving being trapped, running away from something or being humiliated in public.

  2. Irritability: With a churning mind, you are likely to be impatient with yourself and others, provoking outbursts of anger or aggression. Afterwards you might say ‘that just wasn’t me’ and you’d be right. Your inner and outer lives are misaligned.

  3. Plummeting Confidence: You may increasingly feel uncomfortable in social settings or you may feel that you lack the confidence to make good decisions. Again, you are right. By ignoring or over-riding your most passionately held values, you are cutting yourself off from the source of good decision-making.

  4. Addictive of numbing behaviour: This pain is acute and horrible and you’ll do anything to avoid it. Alcohol, sex, shopping – anything to distract you and numb the pain. The trouble is that it is in the pain that you will find the energy to change.


The author Joseph Campbell observed that “the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you require”. Of course, that cave is very frightening and the last place we might choose to go. However, the treasure is worth every missed heartbeat.


If you would like to work with me to explore the healing of your own Cognitive Dissonance, just DM, email or phone.

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