The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Cognitive Dissonance (pt 3C)

Yesterday I wrote about the first of 4 things that you can do to start to avoid the pitfalls of cognitive dissonance.  Today I list the other three things: 

2 – Even if you missed the opportunity to exercise your choice in the moment, allow time to see the situation from an objective standpoint, afterwards. 
One of the best things that ever happened to me was when I was afflicted, unbeknownst to me, with gluten-intolerance.  Why?  Because I had to shut up. 

It was the first time in years in which I both didn’t have the energy to do the things I wanted, when I wanted and literally was in pain every time I talked.  Throughout the previous 4 years before that “affliction” I was the master of justifying my mistakes.  Afterwards, I couldn’t stand myself.  

I had to start all over.  I had to learn patience.  I had to learn self-control.  I had to learn to control my impulses.  Possibly the hardest lesson though was that I wasn’t always right. 

With that much time to sit around and think, I wrote.  I wrote extensively about my life.  What I found, was damn – I had made A LOT of mistakes.  A lot of mistakes that I couldn’t take back. 

When I finally was able to speak at will again, without the associated pain, I went back to responding with justifying things I didn’t want to hear.  What stuck with me though, is the thought that maybe, just maybe I was making a mistake – So I would go back and see if the person had a point.  During the conversation I might have defended my perspective relentlessly, but I would go back and write about the other person’s point of view.  That “post moment” reflection has made a HUGE difference.    

There’s been many times, where I’ve had to go back and be say, “You know what, you’re right.  I’m sorry.” 

That’s definitely not the easiest thing to for me to do, but it’s doable.  

Although this sounds like something you would primarily do for others, it’s also great for looking at your own mistakes.  Owning up to them, to yourself is a primary step in being able to recognize them in the moment. 

3 – Adopt the Growth Mindset
The bottom line with the growth mindset is that you recognize, on a very fundamental level, that you will make mistakes.  Mistakes are the way to get knowledge and the growth mindset allows you to know that mistakes are natural and doesn’t mean that you’re incompetent as a person.  Can you learn from others’ mistakes?  To be sure – and it’s highly recommended that you do. 

The bottom line with any endeavor, small or large is that you will make mistakes.  You will have to grow from those if you are to hit your goal – and  that’s not a bad thing. 

Too often we get caught up in the “need” to be perfect.  We are fearful of being judged, shown to be wanting.  But as many wise people have said, “Falling is not failing.  Not getting back up is.” 

We will make mistakes.  We might have to ask for candid and objective opinions.  We might have to do things differently, even if it doesn’t feel “natural” but that only means that we have the power to change.  We can not only face our mistakes, but encourage others to point them out to us.  We don’t have to hide behind them, but can encourage open discourse. 

I think this is definitely easier said than done – but it can be done.  This is also why having someone with experience in what you’re trying to achieve help you along the path can be such a vital experience.  If you’ve been working out and not seeing progress, maybe you need to learn what your mistakes have been.  Seek a qualified personal trainer and learn.  Don’t hide behind the wasted time or ignorance. 

There is only one way to banish the darkness of ignorance – with the light of knowledge.  Allow yourself to turn on the lights. 

4 – Know at any time you can start anew
You may not be able to rebuild a broken down relationship with one particular individual, but you can start a new relationship.  You may not be able to get back the time wasted defending a certain position, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t start to understand other positions. 

In the end, it comes down to these 4 elements:
1 – Knowing you always have a choice
2 – Knowing you can entertain an other’s opinion without accepting their opinion as fact
3 – Knowing that mistakes are the fundamental key to growth
4 – Knowing that no matter how long you’ve clung to the mistakes of your past, you can start anew. 

With the 7 posts about Cognitive Dissonance completed, you should ask and answer three questions:

1 – Where are the areas of your life that you’re lying to yourself – what are the things you truly want to change but have been too scared to change in the past?  Is it that you’re overweight and are scared to take action?  Is it that you smoke and hate smoking?  What area of your life, if you stopped lying to yourself, stopped justifying your actions, would make you a more complete person of your more ideal self? 

2 – Now that you’ve defined the areas of your life that you want to change, what are the elements that are “holding you back” from making that change?  Is it the belief that you don’t have enough time?  Is it that you don’t know what you’re doing? 

3 – What actions are you going to take to move past those elements that are holding you back? 

Don’t put off asking yourself the questions.  Don’t just read them.  Actually act on them.  Start to take responsibility for your life instead of simply justifying your life.

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