Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Cognitive dissonance is a term that refers to holding two or more contradictory thoughts in our heads, and being made to feel uncomfortable as a result. In its simplest form cognitive dissonance would look like this:
1) Lying is bad
2) I just lied
3) This make me bad, no?
We have three options when we are presented with the fact that our behaviors don’t align with the ideas and beliefs we hold of ourselves.
1) Adjust our view of ourselves
2) Acquire new information that rationalizes the unwanted behavior
3) Ignore the contradiction between our values and our behavior
The most interesting area of our lives where we humans stumble and fail occur when we are hit with that all consuming lightning bolt of desire. Desire is a funny thing because for most of our lives we’ve learned to tamp it down. We’ve learned not to cry when we feel pain, we’re taught not to hit things (or people) when we get angry. We become robotic over the years, relying on facts to explain our feelings and citing statistics to rationalize our arguments.
But desire lurks in the back of our minds tucked in the amygdala. There it sits with love, fear and anger. Until one day, when a look, a touch, a word, a beat, a smile, unleashes that dormant volcano within you. Causing that molten lava of desire to finally boil over and erupt until it pours and oozes its way over everything and anything you hold dear.
“Fuck you pre-frontal cortex!” Desire roars, “Fuck you rational decision-making! You’ve only been around for 1.9 million years. I’ve been around since the beginning of time. You thought you could control me. Ha! I only let you control what I allowed you to control. You’re not getting in the way anymore. I want what I want. And I want it now!”
Sometimes, there are no explanations for why we do what we do.
1) Some of us are good people
2) Some of us are people who haven’t (yet!) come across temptation that can cause us to do bad things.
3) And some of us are just assholes who don’t give a shit about anything or anyone.
Good luck figuring it out…