Cognitive Dissonance is a theory developed by social psychologists in order to understand human behavior -more specifically human emotions. Cognitive dissonance theory is concerned with the relationships that exist among cognitions. I wanted to share this off the top because I feel it’s important as a reader of this article, that you understand the theme of the article has its roots in science. This rooting makes the practice of learning to find peace intentionally not only rewarding for its peace giving qualities, but also for its ability to be your indicator of forward progress within the life you prefer to live -instead of the life that you feel is forced upon you. You can begin to live as the Creator that you came to Earth to be, instead of creating by default.
In 1957, Dr. Leon Festinger developed an explanation for the emotional reactions found in his patients, the relationship between cognitions in the brain. A cognition, for the purpose of this theory, may be thought of as a piece of knowledge. The knowledge may be about an attitude, a behavior, a value, or anything else of that nature. For example, the knowledge that you like the color red is a cognition; the knowledge that you caught a touchdown pass is a cognition; the knowledge that the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation is a cognition. People hold a multitude of cognitions simultaneously, and these cognitions form resonant or dissonant relationships with one another. To briefly summarize cognitive dissonance, it’s basically the response from your personality to ideas or data that conflict with other ideas or data that you hold as individual, emotional responses to said data, such as anger, frustration, doubt, or rage (all emotional manifestations of cognitive dissonance). For instance, a racist who believes their race to be supreme above all others, will be angry with the knowledge that all races are scientifically equal, they will respond with dissonant behavior.
As I researched this theory within the fields of neuroscience, I found that the brain operates and functions as a control center of the human experience, at the
hub that human experience is brain waves, brainwaves underpin almost everything going on in our minds, including memory, attention and even intelligence. As they oscillate at different frequencies, they get classified into bands, such as alpha, theta and gamma. Each are associated with different tasks.
All brain cells tune in to the frequency corresponding to the particular task, while ignoring irrelevant signals, similar to how a radio hones in on different waves to pick up radio stations.
The transfer of information between neurons becomes optimal when their activity is synchronized. This is the same reason why we experience cognitive dissonance, the frustration caused by simultaneously holding two contradictory ideas. Will is merely the drive to reduce the dissonance between each of our active neural circuits.
Let’s get back to the example of the radio stations, because after researching the brainwaves and how the brain communicates and operates it seems as if the human is very similar to a transmitting and receiving mechanism. We all understand the concept of the radio station, you tune to the radio station that you prefer, and until you are locked onto that signal you won’t fully receive what is being broadcast on that station. Older radios used to dial through, and when you weren’t locked onto a radio signal the music was fuzzy, sometimes only static was heard, until you fully locked onto the signal of the radio frequency for the type of music you desired. Well, cognitive dissonance and resonance are almost exactly like that.
Your brain is always emitting a signal or frequency of what is preferred by you. It knows this from your life experience and the cognitions that you have picked up along the way, and organizes your day based on what you choose to focus on the most. What you focus on the most is the frequency that is emitted the most, sometimes this frequency resonates with your preferred experience; sometimes it doesn’t, which would then be classified as dissonance. However the rate and time at which you spend in either frequency is up to you, you can either spend most of your time in a positive happy mood or in an angry, frustrated mood. The choice is ultimately yours. No situation demands cognitive dissonance of you, it is simply offered by choice. Cognitive dissonance is there not because of a malfunction in the brain but to guide you from what is not preferred. It is an indicator that what you are thinking and doing are in direct conflict with a preferred belief. Conversely, cognitive resonance is the frequency that is locked onto the signal of the life experience you prefer at any given moment.
One could argue that this “guidance” is not creating the world around you at all! Another might argue that the world around us is created by others and we reside within it. However that is just not the way the human brain works, nothing is outside the human brains interpretation. The 5 senses that we as humans use to perceive the world around us is but lighting storms and flashes of electrical impulses in the brain. You’re not reading this article with your eyes; your visual cortex is located in the back of your dark brain. Your eyes are simply yet amazingly transmitting vibratory information to the back of your brain, and your brain is painting a picture of what is going on around you based on visual memory. So a situation, circumstance, relationship or any given life experience is neither “good” or “bad” until you believe it so. It stands to reason that there must be a part of each human that finds peace in EVERY life situation or else there could be no dissonance. The word by definition means conflict, and if conflict is happening that creates negative emotion, leading one to then believe that the original emotion must have been a positive one to begin with.
Your emotions are the most real thing you can’t touch, taste or smell. It’s easy to conceive that our emotions are pure vibration; they cannot be operated on or removed from the human form. Emotions have been designed as supreme guidance and I’m not sure we have been properly taught how to be guided by them, we are taught as young people to not do what feels best, but do what is told to us to do. This type of dependent thinking has trained most humans away from the only supreme guidance that has full knowledge of each of us personally, no one knows you better than your own brain. Begin the practice of paying attention to how you feel, make feeling good a priority. Make the choice to not allow the world to be the determining factor on how you will feel today, and take back control of your life! Create more happy moments in life by simply making the choice to be happier, practice it! You have practiced being unhappy, or angry or sad long enough. If nothing else you will be a happier person for it, and isn’t THAT what you want from life anyway?