Dissing the Dissonance

19 November, 2015

I had the privilege of attending a workshop this past weekend on mBraining, run by the delightful Michelle Dalley and Mal Winnie.  It was something I had heard a little about before but hadn't experienced, and I was grateful to have had the experience.  I won't go into detail here explaining it - just to say that it is a great model for getting in touch with all of your intelligences, not just the brain inside your head!  We actually have a heart and a gut which also contain a significant amount of neurons and neurochemicals that effectively "think" in their own ways.  It's not just our heads that can govern our lives.

There were a lot of insights for me during the weekend and I may well write about more of them over the coming weeks.  One particular area that stood out for me was the teaching on Cognitive Dissonace.  I knew the term but this time I understood it in a new way as I realised how much I had been engaging in some of these strategies feel better, and how ineffective they actually are!  Allow me to explain:

Where there is disharmony or in otherwords internal conflict, your system doesn't like it.  For example, working in a dead end job when you have a doctorate, or committing a crime that goes against what you've done before, or killing an animal when you consider yourself an animal loving person, or doing a job you thought you'd be great at but it turns out you're not, or loving someone who you're in a relationship with and having a relationship with another.  In otherwords there's an action (or an inaction) that happens, which goes against a belief or a sense of self that also exists inside of you.  As any of you know that have worked with me to resolve internal conflicts, these kinds of conflict hurt.  Your unconscious dislikes this sense of disharmony, and so it does whatever it can to close the gap, and inevitably, sometimes this can feel like its fighing a war within itself and all kinds of behaviours can eventuate.  The patterns of dissonance include:
  1. Avoidance
  2. Confirmation
  3. Blame
  4. Distortion
  5. Quitting
  6. Reassurance
  7. Distraction
  8. Justification
  9. Re-valuation 
Your system will engage in one or more of these in order to feel better: i.e. this conflict or sense of disharmony can't exist, so I have to make one thing true and the other thing not true; i.e. I will deny my crime because dealing with the guilt of what I've done is too painful.  Or I can't get anywhere in life, so I re-valuate life and pretend that those things I wanted are no longer important to me (who needs money and relationships, right?). 

I could recognise them within myself in my own journey in becoming a mother. I had always assumed I'd be a complete natrual - that I'd know exactly what the baby wanted and needed, that I'd be drawn to them and loving, and sensitive and compassionate.  I never thought it would be any other way.  However, has not been like that - it's been a process of learning and for someone used to getting fast results, a slow and sometimes painful process.  I can recognise a lot of these patterns now:  blame, avoidance, reassurance.  Wanting to quit, but obviously not being able to!  It's like the way I felt was so distant from who I thought I'd be that my system couldn't handle the gap and did all kinds of things to make me feel better about who I was, so I didn't have to face a very uncomfortable truth. However, these are only temporary measures and inevitably can only go on for so long: something has to be healed from the inside-out.  It's either change your belief or sense of self, or the actions you take or both - as one thing leads to the other.

I invite you to conisder areas of your life where there's a gap - you'll know that it's there because it will either hurt, or some part of you will be aware of behaviours which seem out of character.  The one you ultimately line up with is the one your heart knows to be the truth of who you are - otherwise you will cause yourself more pain.  

So what is the truth of who you are, and what changes can you make to get there?  What's important enough to you to get you there? What really matters?

As always, I'm interested in your comments and feedback.  Please do leave a comment and have a chat.

Charlotte.

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