Ep. 14: Cognitive Dissonance + How to Create New Beliefs

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Cognitive dissonance. It’s one of those big, fancy scientific terms you may have heard before but only have a vague understanding of what it actually means when you really try to think about it.

The official dictionary definition? Cognitive dissonance is “The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.”

But in lay people’s terms – and in terms of how to apply this concept to creating a life of freedom, adventure and purpose – cognitive dissonance is as simple as this: feeling like shit as you try to create a new belief.

Because to create a new result in your life, you need to create a new way of thinking. And that process feels…very uncomfortable.

The “cognitive” part of cognitive dissonance refers to the mind – more specifically, our thoughts.

It also refers to the dissonance that exists between two different thoughts in your brain that are occurring simultaneously (a.k.a. when who we think we are is different from what we are doing).

For example, that moment when you’re like “Wait, I think of myself as a healthy person, but I’m drinking a bottle of wine every night.” There’s cognitive dissonance there that makes us uncomfortable because two thoughts are clashing. In that sense, it can also be helpful in letting us know when things are out of alignment.

But it isn’t as helpful when we want to create something new, and that something new is different from our current reality and belief systems.

Because when you have two thoughts that contradict each other in your brain, you are going to have mental discomfort.

Which (let’s be honest) feels like shit.

So here’s the rub.

Anytime you want to create a new result in life, you have to DO things differently which means you need to THINK differently.

Like Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

To create something new – to achieve a new goal – you will need a new thought.

…Welcome to cognitive dissonance.

In this episode, we dig into confirmation bias, what it takes to change your belief systems about yourself, how to let go of old beliefs in order to create new ways of thinking, and how to sit with the mental discomfort that comes when you set goals that push you beyond what you previously thought you were capable of.

The bottom line is that developing a willingness and an ability to be uncomfortable really is what you have to do to experience deep growth and change. To go for your dreams. To make a meaningful difference in this world.

So go on, I dare you.

Develop the muscle and the resilience to hold two contradictory thoughts at the same time and not shy away from the dissonance this sparks.

Learn to bridge the gap between your old belief systems and the new ones you want to create.

Decide what you want in life – then practice believing you can get it – and build the skills to go f*cking make it happen.

The world needs you to invest in yourself like this right now. To put in the work.

And remember: there is a reward for you on the other side of all this.

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • What cognitive dissonance is – how to recognize it, how to create new thoughts and let go of old beliefs
  • Why cognitive dissonance is the reason most people don’t want to set goals
  • Lots about confirmation bias – why the brain is constantly trying to prove what it already thinks of as true
  • Why, in order to create change in your life, you need to be willing to experience cognitive dissonance and the mental discomfort that comes with it
  • More on our FAVE topic: the mighty Motivational Triad – and how it relates (almost contrarily) to the way cognitive dissonance moves you towards discomfort & away from pleasure or what’s easy
  • How to bridge the gap between the two models of your life – the one in which you currently live, and the one in which you WANT to live;)
  • What laddering thoughts are and how to use them to change your belief systems about yourself
  • Why cognitive dissonance is actually required for us to live the best version of our own lives
  • How my business is literally built around helping people feel really uncomfortable – and why developing a willingness to be uncomfortable is the recurring theme that lies at the heart of SO much thoughtwork, mindfulness and resilience building
  • Tips & tools for changing an old, habitual thought into a new one that can change your life – and others’ lives too


// If you want more of this Jedi juice, head over to our Rebel Buddhist Facebook page and join the free private group where important conversations are happening in a safe place. There’s a weekly FB live called Wake the F*ck Up Wednesday, and it’s a place where you can ask questions that come up as you do this work – in all parts of your life.

// Want to learn more about how to free your mind and free your life, go to RebelBuddhist.com and grab my free Rebel Buddhist Toolkit, where you’ll receive a video training on cultivating resilience, a copy of the gorgeous Rebel Buddhist Manifesto, and more!

// Did you resonate with drinking a bottle of wine every night? Check out my free 3 Steps to Drink Less training, where you’ll also receive info on managing your “drinking thinking” and how to deal with the cognitive dissonance that comes up.

// Enrollment is currently closed for Freedom School, my one-of-a-kind membership program that helps you free your mind and free your life. If you want to be the first to know when enrollment opens, go here to get on the waitlist.