Maybe my favorite way to make life better :). Listen up! First though, that science grounding… Let’s talk dissonance. Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance is when it hurts to have to conflicting realities so we change our opinion of make the conflict appear to dissolve. I guess, in effect, the conflict does dissolve. If someone who makes you feel bad is no longer in your life then you do not have to feel bad. If you never wanted that thing then you do not have to feel upset about not getting it. If you did not meet your goals it’s good you really did not have desire for that opportunity. Done and done. Except for the fact you circumvented the why of your feelings. Whoops.
We do this all the time.
“I didn’t like her anyways.” “I actually wanted the black sweater.” “They were just having a bad day when…”
See the thing about cognitive dissonance is: We do not like it. We do not like it so much that we make our thoughts match our lives. And, our lives match our thoughts. Cognitive catch-22. And, this helps us ‘feel better.’
Now here’s where it gets better… (HINT: It always gets better.) We can use cognitive dissonance for our benefit. (It’s not all re-framing old wants and justifying naughty habits :P.) Constructive cognitive dissonance! Since we are inclined to settle the mental distress of dissonant thoughts and behaviors by adapting said thoughts and behaviors, we can promote positive adaptions. Simply: We can act and make choices that reinforce how we want to feel. I call this ‘The Yoga Effect.’ (Catchy Huh? :P).
Seriously though, the thing that I’ve noticed after taking and teaching TONS of yoga is that: people who take care of themselves in one vector of their lives have the tendency to start to take care of themselves in every vector of their lives. It makes sense. I mean how could they not?! Only taking limited care of myself would be dissonant and we (according to cognitive dissonance) would desire to change this– Our options mental beaver games or lifestyle shifts.
Following: If we commit to ourselves here (at yoga, etc.), we might as well commit to ourselves everywhere. If we nourish our bodies well now, it’s only rational that we should continue to do so. This is much more mentally parallel. This lacks dissonance. This is ‘The Yoga Effect.’
Yes, punishments may beget punishments. But what about good, sound, healthy choices?! If we are going to lose the dissonance anyways, we might as well lose it in the right direction… 🙂
Which way do you want to (cognitively) sway your life? What if it’s up to you?