Psychology|Cognitive Dissonance Helps Us Make Sure We Execute Our Beliefs

Every uncomfortable feeling is a hint to press us to make some changes so as to secure a better life, mentally and physically. If any uncomfortable feeling persists, there must be something wrong, there must be unsatisfaction or even depression inside of our heart. Don’t ignore the warning signs from our subconsciousness.


The term “cognitive dissonance[1]” refers to a situation that when your beliefs are in conflict with your behaviors, the discomfort comes into being. In a nutshell, only when our behaviors are in accordance with our beliefs, we secure an internal peaceful mind.


Cognitive dissonance occurs when an individual’s behavior contradicts his beliefs, life value or self-identity. The discrepancy between our beliefs and our actions lead to feelings of discomfort or even severe stress, which are good reminders indeed.[2]


For most people, every decision come with risks or rewards. Life is all about making big and small decisions every single day. We tend to avoid making errors. Everyone wants to make accurate or better decisions. Chances are, there are no absolutely good decisions but comfortable decisions with fewer regrets. When I am torn between 2 choices, I would remind myself: Do what you should do rather than do what you want to do. Doing what we should do is more about fulfilling the responsibilities and doing what we want to do is more about fulfilling our desires or sensations. Our every move reflects our free will and it demonstrates how much we execute self-discipline.

The sad truth is that countless people are not confident enough to fight for what they want in life. They give up the things that they truly desire after successive frustrations and so they stop trying.


In A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Festinger offers an explanation of why individuals continue to smoke even though they know it is bad for their health. Festinger asserts that people tend to minimize the potential drawbacks of smoking by convincing themselves that the negative health effects have been overstated. In a sense, those who can’t quit bad habits tend to justify or rationalize misbehavior by lowering the negative impacts of bad habits.


Come to think it, everyone is keenly aware of the fault of cheating and unfaithfulness. Those who cheat might tend to rationalize their behavior or nullify their guilt by justifying their freedom to seek true love and lowering the possible harm they cause to people they love.


Additionally, most people tend to undermine the wickedness of common sins such as pride, laziness or overeating. Consequently, we keep performing our worst self by failing to execute self-discipline. By doing so, we get disappointed at ourselves consciously or not and we fail to be truly satisfied with ourselves because we do not become a “better me” as we hope. As people fail to do their best to achieve what they truly want and desire, they are more likely to suffer from severe stress, depression and anxiety.


In a sense, as we allow ourselves to spend time doing what we don’t truly believe, we get stressful, anxious and unnerving. As our inner desire is consistent with our behavior, we secure inner peace without efforts.  In a sense, discomfort feelings push us to make changes. By doing so, it helps us prevent from making regretful choices.


Researchers identify key brain regions linked to cognitive dissonance where is situated in the posterior part of the medial frontal cortex (pMFC). Studies found that cognitive dissonance engages other brain regions, such as the insula and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). The insula is responsible for processing emotions, and it often becomes more active when people are being upset or irritated, and the DLPFC is strongly associated with cognitive control.


Any uncomfortable feeling can be identified as the reminder from God, which help us to confirm our life priorities. Cognitive dissonance helps us make sure that we execute our beliefs and life values, so we can secure our dreamed life without deceiving our true self. 


[1] The theory is proposed by Psychologist Leon Festinger. He published a book “A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance” in 1957 to explain the theory.

[2] In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort or stress experienced by a person when his behaviors are contradictory to his beliefs, or values.

#psychological stress

#認知失調論(cognitive dissonance theory)認知失調指一個人的態度和行為等的認知相互矛盾而產生的不適感。認知失調理論認為:認知失調會產生一種心理緊張。認知失調理論是費斯汀格在1957年的《認知失調論》一書中提出。

[1] The theory is proposed by Psychologist Leon Festinger. He published a book “A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance” in 1957 to explain the theory.

Margaret W. Lavigne

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