One of the most potent drivers of change AND perpetuators of old habits is cognitive dissonance:
In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the perception of contradictory information, and the mental toll of it. Relevant items of information include a person’s actions, feelings, ideas, beliefs, values, and things in the environment. Cognitive dissonance is typically experienced as psychological stress when persons participate in an action that goes against one or more of those things.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance
What’s interesting about cognitive dissonance is that both “sides” of the dissonance are not equal:
If you think one thing, but you do something else, eventually you’ll start believing what you do, not what you think.
In other words: actions overrule thoughts.
- If I tell myself I can’t write a daily post (thought) and I don’t write a daily post (action), I perpetuate the belief.
- If I tell myself I can’t write a daily post (thought) but I gain enough courage and I actually do write a daily post (action), I will start shifting my belief towards the actions I’m taking. In other words: I’ll start believing I can write a daily post.
- If I tell myself I can write a daily post (thought), but I never actually write that daily post (action), then my belief will start shifting again, and I’ll start believing I can’t write a daily post.
- If I tell myself I can write a daily post (thought) and I do write a daily post (action), my belief grows stronger.
We usually start in the first scenario until we gain enough leverage over ourselves to change our actions. The moment we change our actions to actions that conflict with our thoughts/beliefs, we’re creating cognitive dissonance.
Then, if we follow through with our new actions, our beliefs start to change.
The big turning point is that moment where you start taking a different action.
Which begs the question:
- How can we gain enough leverage over ourselves to go against our beliefs and change our actions for the better?
- How can we make it so important to us to change (or so painful NOT to change) that we start taking different actions?
Identify your leverage points that jolt you into action, and you gain power over your beliefs and identity.