Cognitive Dissonance

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Cognitive Dissonance 

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas or values at the same time; performs an action that is contradictory to their beliefs, ideas or values; or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas or values.

I just experienced cognitive dissonance!

On Christmas Day we were invited to the home of our son Nathan’s girlfriend’s parents. It would be the first time we visited their home. When we arrived we were greeted warmly and soon after we arrived they suggested we have a picture taken of our family in front of the Christmas tree. Rose and I were asked to pose with our sons Nathan and Danny in the first picture.

We were resigned that for the fifth year in a row our daughter Jenny, who lives in China, would only be connected to us by Skype a few hours later.

Behind us and beside the tree was a door to another room. As we were posing for our picture three of the four of us didn’t know that Jenny had come through that door and was behind us in the picture. Our host was trying to show us the picture to reveal that Jenny was in the picture. He had inadvertently zoomed in so close that what he was showing us was a close up of my sweater and my chin.

When he showed us the actual picture we could see that someone what photobombing the picture. By that point Jenny had come around in front of us and in a video of this event, you can see Rose looking at her with her mouth wide open for three or four seconds with no words coming out, and then I spotted her.

When I did, a sound came out of me that I had never heard before and I suspect I will never hear again. I rushed up to hug her and hold on for dear life. My mind was blown. Three or four hours later at dinner I asked her if I was dreaming this or if she was really beside me. She assured me that it was real.

What Rose and I saw was not in alignment with our belief that Jenny was in China. Even though we were physically looking at evidence to the contrary, our minds battled against it until we were able to have a new belief!

What I see over and over again as a coach is that people want to create a reality that is a contradiction to the belief they have been holding on to.

Remember just because we believe something doesn’t mean that it is true. Yet we will often fight with all our might to hold on to our belief. Two people can watch a sporting event, see the same play and if they are cheering for opposite teams will probably see the result of the play in a way that benefits their team.

This concept may be something that helps people in this time of year to get a result they have been trying to attain unsuccessfully for many years.

If you think you are fat and you are setting up plans to be fit, you may work very hard and find yourself defaulting to do things that support your belief. If you think you are a person who always struggles financially and you have a plan to become wealthy, that old belief will work hard to make sure you don’t. If you believe there are no good matches out there for you romantically and you have a goal to find someone, they could walk right past you and you probably wouldn’t see them. If you believe there is something lacking in you that might keep you from getting a particular job and you apply for it, there is a chance that the belief will impact your chances regardless of whether it is relevant or not.

What is needed is to step back, think about what beliefs you are holding on to and determine if they are supporting you or holding you back. You could also try to determine if they are actually even true, but be warned, even if they are not true, your mind will put up a fight. You are just used to believing they are true.

Be open to considering that what you believe is not true!

We have the ability to decide to believe something other than what we have believed!

When Shelley and I are talking to someone who tells us “I am always late.” (It is likely that they are not always late, maybe they are late 10 percent of the time, but connect themselves to lateness when they are) we often would respond with “You mean you used to be?”  They have the same look on their faces that I had when I saw my daughter. “What do you mean I used to be?” Well, that thinking and that behavior is in the past. At this moment you get to decide what your reality will be in the future, but if you keep saying “I am always late” you can probably expect lateness in the future. You get to decide!

If you choose to decide that everything you believe is true and nobody, including you, can convince you of anything to the contrary, then your conviction, your steadfastness, your stubbornness or whatever you want to call it will serve you as it always has.

The big opportunity at this time of year is to blow your mind, think differently, decide, get out of your own way, dream and live your dreams!

If you would like some support with this, some coaching or some coaching tools, please contact us. Use us to think differently and get the results you are looking for.

Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at or We believe you could have your best year yet!


Posted by Will Flourance at 02/28/2017 11:40:17 AM |