Grappling with cognitive dissonance helps us grow.

Stephanie Winn
2 min readJun 10, 2021

When we reflect honestly, we see that our thoughts and actions don’t always align with the beliefs and values we think we hold. That’s okay! It’s an opportunity to expand your heart and mind.

Examine the inner conflict with an attitude of patience and curiosity. Do your daily thoughts and actions reflect the stories you tell yourself about who you are and what you value?

If these don’t perfectly align, many unhelpful temptations lurk. For instance, you could go into denial, rationalize the differences, or berate yourself for lazy hypocrisy.

But there are other ways of approaching this.

Think of when those ideas formed. How old were you then? Eight? Twenty-four? How old are you now? What have you learned about life since then? About yourself? About how the world works? About human frailty and limitation? About complexity, nuance, maturity?

What challenges have you been faced with that you could not have predicted? What choices were you left to content with?

Where did those ideas come from? Who or what taught you what it supposedly means to be a good person? Do you still agree, or have your views evolved?

Examine how you presently spend your time, money, and attention. What does it tell you about your present wants and needs? Is it possible that your old notions of what it meant to strive for perfection failed to reflect the importance of rest, leisure, self-care, financial security, family, love, health, or creative expression?

Perhaps you’re not spending your time on any of these things; instead, you find yourself spinning your wheels, wasting hours scrolling through social media. Shame can be paralyzing. If you were to stop beating yourself up, would it be easier to get up and do something?

Allow yourself permission to be complex, and to evolve your beliefs and habits over time. This will help you have more grace with other people, too.

Grappling with cognitive dissonance helps us grow.

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Stephanie Winn

Counselor, Airbnb host, houseplant collector, barefoot wanderer