Live in harmony or live to avoid discomfort. But how does one find inner harmony?
- Please everyone?
- Do what everyone wants?
- Be Nice to everyone?
- Accept everything?
No, no, no, no, no and no!
Well kind of. With some caveats.
- Avoid inner conflicts.
- Please yourself.
- Do what you want.
- Be nice to yourself
- Accept yourself.
Let’s talk about “Cognitive Dissonance”.
An inherent trait of being human is to seek consistency. This includes consistency between values and behaviors. When values and behaviors are not consistent there is a sense of discomfort. This discomfort can be experienced as anxiety, depression, OCD, or just stashed away to be dealt with later.
Then what happens?
Anxiety and depression may manifest in both physical and emotional symptoms. And one can live with them, deal with them, seek counseling assistance… basically one must take steps to reduce the dissonance.
And if stashed away what happens?
There is only so much room in that stash-away closet. They are or will be dealt with. Compulsive and obsessive behaviors may manifest to relieve these undefined discomforts. Eating, drinking, exercising, purging, gambling, sex, drugs, relationships, cleaning… ANYTHING to focus somewhere else.
How to fix.
The main goal will be to bring values and behaviors in line with each other. Yes, one can begin to abstain from these unregulated behaviors, and that is a good start. But to succeed, one must find a state of harmony.
Think about it, humans have been trying to find harmony for centuries.
12-step recovery– 4th– 9thsteps
Catholicism – Reconciliation
Islam – Tawba
Jewish – תשובה, “tshuva” or “teshuva”
Hinduism – prāyaścitta
Generally, these are acts of confession, forgiveness, with the implication that the behavior not be repeated. Applied to one’s self, one needs to recognize the dissonance, accept, forgive, and bring behaviors and values into harmony.
“People try to seek consistency in their thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. So, when there are conflicts between cognitions, people will take steps to reduce the dissonance and feelings of discomfort.”1
“The theory of dissonance reduction predicts if our beliefs are incompatible with our behavior, something has to change: either our beliefs or our behavior. In general, we will choose the path of least resistance. That is, the adjustment will favor the one that is most resistant to change. Often it is our beliefs that get adjusted, rather than our desire.” 2
- Identify and develop values
- Detect your own hypocrisy
- Specify a behavior to modify
- Develop motivation to change
- Plan the Change
- Seek assistance
Our “how to find harmony list – updated
- Avoid inner conflicts. – fix our hypocrisies
- Please yourself. – in accord with our values
- Do what you want. – in accord with our values
- Be nice to yourself – you will, at times, fall short, forgive yourself
- Accept yourself. – you will, at times, fall short, you are human, forgive
Making changes is not always easy. Find help. Friends, family, and co-workers. Also consider professional counseling. It does not have to be a three-year affair. Counselors can be engaged to help you fix a specific problem over a specific length of time. Go in with your goal in hand and let them guide and encourage you throughout the process. They are specifically trained in bringing out the best in you.