Daring to Explore the Cognitive Dissonance

Have you ever dared to explore your own cognitive distortions, your own cognitive dissonance? It’s a scary undertaking. Facing one’s own shadow. Cognitive Dissonance is the dirty fiend that leads us to repeat unhealthy patterns over and over again. Cognitive Dissonance is an enigmatic trap. The more we think something, the more we bring about the very thing we have expended so much energy trying not to create. For example, I fear being abandoned. I fear this so much because I have this idea/belief that everyone is going to abandon me. I have this belief because everyone has abandoned me. Except here is the enigma. Most people have abandoned me because I have this belief and, as a result, I behave in ways that I feel will keep people close. Unfortunately, sometimes those behaviors are off-putting and ultimately lead to people leaving my life. Self-fulfilling prophecy a la cognitive dissonance.

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As I think about that it makes me wonder what some of my other cognitive distortions are, what else do I believe that is inaccurate and that ultimately I create because I believe so firmly that it is true?

I believe that I am unlovable. I believe that I am unworthy. I believe that I’m mediocre. I believe I’ll never be something extraordinary. I believe that no one could possibly really care about me. I believe no one could possibly understand me. I believe I am too much. I believe I am too sensitive. I believe that if people saw my real self then they would think I was an ugly human. I believe people must think I’m annoying. I believe I am a nuisance. I believe that my emotions make people uncomfortable. I believe that I’m broken and can’t be fixed. I believe that people who say they like me must actually be lying because there isn’t anything about me to like.

I could probably keep going but I’ll stop there. The real question, I guess, is really what do we do about these distortions? If they’re causing dissonance then how do we reach a level of consonance? How do we find harmony within our tumultuous selves? With all roads leading to failure at relationships, failure at work, failure at life, how does one find the ability to succeed? How do I convince myself that these distortions aren’t real? How do I get out of the feedback loop that has me trapped in the same kinds of failures? It has to be possible, right? That’s the whole idea behind therapy. The whole idea behind CBT, that cognitions and behaviors can be changed. There are people who buy into that, like, a lot of people. They can’t all be wrong. But, what happens when the beliefs have been ingrained so deeply? What happens when they’re the result of complex trauma? How does one maintain hope while trying to work through those distorted cognitions?

It’s an endlessly, erratic enigma. An unsolvable puzzle. A series of questions without answers. Or, perhaps, it’s a concrete concept with abstract solutions.

via Daily Prompt: Explore

15 Thoughts

  1. I did a lot of reading last year about acceptance and commitment therapy, and it takes a very different stance than the CBT change-the-thoughts approach. I guess in the end it comes down to whatever works, and fumbling around to figure out what that is.

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  2. CBT wont help the original trauma. It is only by loving yourself and undoing those false beliefs of your inner child you can break free. The truth is that as an adult you cannot be abandoned only left. I recommend highly the inner bonding process devised by Margaret Paul she has a web site. She explains how we do evoke abandonment when we either abandon ourselves to gain love or when we believe false truths that we deserve to be left. It has to start from within, your inner child needs your full support and love. Only you can do it. xo

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    1. That literally leaves me more hopeless. How does one learn to love their inner child when their real child self never learned love. And their adult self doesn’t know how to recognize love?

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          1. I am so sorry I can imagine having lost the possibility of connection with that therapist who treated you so badly has left you feeling so alone and hopeless I am so sorry I made that comment as it has obviously made you feel worse. I am so sorry about that . I am here and listening but its not much help I know. ❤ ❤ ❤

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          2. You’re fine, really! I promise. I’m just irritable and sensitive today. It isn’t you that needs to be more mindful. There wasn’t anything wrong with your comment. It was my reaction that was problematic. Please trust me on that

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  3. That last sentence is exactly what it is!!!! Concrete problems with abstract solution. Perfectly stated. If I have overcome most of my self-loathing, I believe you can too. You’re are valuable to this tight niche community. Your opinion and words matter. I am excited for the day we finally meet in person 🙂

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