Putting Cognitive Dissonance to Work

J. Keith Hughey


Volume XXI, Number 22 (Issue 1026) May 29, 2023

Putting Cognitive Dissonance to Work

Cognitive Dissonance is a powerful sensation. So much so, it can become a superb motivator when it comes to aligning behavior with goals. Perhaps a better word for goals is “dreams” or “aspirations”.

Let me explain. Cognitive dissonance can occur anytime two or more of our thoughts (and/or the actions we take) find themselves in conflict. Thus, when we encounter a material disconnect between one thought and another thought (or action) such that it produces inner turmoil, that incongruity we are experiencing can easily push us in the direction of behavioral change. Or not. It depends on the strength of the values, that image of a future you, and the habits and pull of the now.

For example, imagine a teenager who begins to feel they are being called to a life of ministry. As we all know, there are certain norms and behaviors that society expects of those who choose that vocation. Yet for most teens, their lack of emotional development and maturity combined with constant temptation and intense peer pressure can soon lead to some questionable choices and bad behavior. Such incongruity between current behaviors and the standards associated with an image of themselves five or ten years hence can cause cognitive dissonance. They may not know it by that name, but it is cognitive dissonance, nonetheless.

While such feelings can be a problem, they can also yield something special. For instance, in a coaching situation, getting someone to identify inconsistencies between their current behaviors and a desired future self (or some standard or role they aspire to down the road) can lead to intense soul searching followed by marked change. Such change might be in one’s thinking, attitude, or actions. Perhaps all three.

In summary, it is possible to put a feeling of cognitive dissonance to work to drive substantive change. Thus, the next time you find yourself waging an internal struggle between the values you claim to hold and the actions you want to take, pay attention to your actions. That is because our actions reflect what we value the most. It is trite, but our actions speak louder than our words.

Soli Deo Gloria

“When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” Galatians 2:14

J. Keith Hughey

Mobile: (210)260-0955
E-mail: keith@jkeithhughey.com
Web site: www.jkeithhughey.com

Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance
Copyright 2023 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

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