Cognitive Dissonance Is Destroying Your Mental Health

Cognitive Dissonance Is Destroying Your Mental Health

Saying that everything is fine is not OK anymore...

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According to the American Psychology Association, cognitive dissonance is, "induced when a person holds two contradictory beliefs, or when a belief is incongruent with an action that the person had chosen freely to perform." Basically, you know what you are doing or experiencing is not good, but you choose to either ignore the situation or reframe your thinking in order to avoid the truth. For example, people know that smoking causes lung cancer; however, they continue to smoke. Students know they should not procrastinate, but they put off their essay until the last minute. But, how does this affect your mental health?

By having inconsistencies between our thoughts and actions causes us to experience confusion, uneasiness, and stress. Bad habits are a comfort zone. We know our habits are not promoting our best lifestyle, but it is far easier to deny that and remain in our safe spaces. Some people may even experience cognitive dissonance about their mental health. They recognize symptoms of depression, OCD, anxiety, etc. yet choose to ignore them and not seek help. Some stay in the shadows of stigma and others simply do not know where to begin the difficult journey that is gaining control over mental illnesses. Then, the stress of knowing these sufferers are not moving forward with improving their mental health even furthers the effects of cognitive dissonance.

How do we stop living through contradictions? In order to reverse the effects of cognitive dissonance, one must completely leave their comfort zones. It comes down to two practices; either changing your beliefs or changing your actions. Let's begin with the most difficult--changing your beliefs. This requires a completely open mind and has lots of gray areas. For example, you could try and convince yourself that cheating in a relationship is not a bad thing, but this may be a contradiction to your beliefs. Even though it would reduce cognitive dissonance, it is not a positive solution.

Instead, try altering your beliefs in lieu of truth and reality. Example--someone may self-deceive when they convince themselves they perform better on tests when they study last minute despite research saying otherwise. A positive change in beliefs would be to acknowledge you are making a habit out of procrastinating, compromising good sleep, and risking a high grade and changing how you view this.

Also, a cognitive dissonance sufferer can change their actions. Although this takes specific goal planning and a strong will, it is much more straightforward and productive. Simply Psychology, Everyday Health, and Psych Central--just to name a few--all encourage one to be completely and brutally honest with themselves. Take time alone to reflect on your actions and habits, do research on improvement methods, and implement them through methods like having others hold you accountable or removing yourself from situations where your bad habits or traits are encouraged. Know that every single person experiences cognitive dissonance in one form or another. That's life for ya! However, you should make a concision effort to stop lying to yourself and start making the change.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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5 Reasons You Should Not Fear Rejection, From The Girl Who Was Afraid Of Being Rejected

Rejection hurts. It can make us spiral into thoughts that we didn't even know existed, deep down within us. But, rejection can also be incredibly eye-opening.

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Rejection. It's just a word, yet it is rather terrifying to most people. Unwanted. Not good enough. Hopeless. Unworthy. Synonyms that echo from the simple word and cloud our minds when it comes our way.

Yet, rejection can be a good thing. Yes, you heard me right. In fact, I wouldn't be the strong person I am today if it hadn't of been for rejection. I mean think about it- could you imagine you were successful in every part of your life? What would you learn? How would you grow? Where would your strength develop?

Rejection hurts. It can make us spiral into thoughts that we didn't even know existed, deep down within us. But, rejection can also be incredibly eye-opening. It can source a strength within is. It can break boundaries and walls we unknowingly have in our bodies. It can free us and allow us to fly.

Here's why we shouldn't be afraid of rejection:

1. People who reject us have their own issues to battle

When people reject us or decide they don't want to include us in their life, there is usually insecurity that lies within them. They may be intimidated of you, or fearful that you may be a threat to their social status. They may not want to accept what you have to offer because they simply are not in the right state to do so yet. They have their own battles they are facing, and they are afraid to let you in because they aren't ready to stand up to their Goliath yet.

2. Rejection allows us to examine ourselves more closely.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I am not chosen or forgotten about is: what is wrong with me? What can I fix? What can I change? Now, I am not saying you need to change anything, or fix anything. I am simply saying that this is where we need to dig down deep inside of us and stifle those thoughts so that we can pull confidence out of us that we may not have known existed. But, we are also not perfect humans, and maybe there are a few tweaks we can make to better ourselves. It's all about looking at ourselves more closely in a truthful and positive manner.

3. Rejection helps us strive to work harder.

I don't know about you- but when I am rejected or not chosen, a small fire builds inside of me and I am motivated to prove them wrong. A rejection from one person or one company or one publisher does not mean a rejection from everyone. 100 rejections, in fact, does not mean a rejection from everyone. All you need is one acceptance. One person, job, friend, publisher, etc.. to choose you. Keep striving. Keep working. It will come!

4. Rejection humbles us.

I think everyone should experience a form of rejection because it is truly a humbling thing. It almost makes you feel so small and child-like, that it brings back a grounding and a sobering state that allows you to take a breath and truly think about everything you are working for. Although it hurts, it is a great place to be. To look in the mirror and realize that you may have some things to work on. Or you may have to find that inner strength to shut the voices of fear. Or you need to tone down your cockiness. Whatever the motive may be, rejection finds a way to bring us back to a grounded state. I think we should all experience this. It will bring you places you could never imagine.

5. Rejection helps bring a restored strength and confidence.

We have two choices. We can let rejection bring us down and keep us there, or we can build confidence and strength within us and overcome it. For so long, I've gone with choice number one. But this year, I say no. Choice number two will be the only way to respond to rejection, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me. I will not let other people's opinions of me stand in the way of my hopes and dreams or God's plan for my life. I am capable. I am strong. I am resilient. I am enough. And so are you!

Of course, rejection hurts, but just as beauty is made from ashes, so can you rise and form a beautiful success story. Nearly every successful person has a failure they dealt with in the past. Don't let yours keep you down. Take it, mold it into wings, and fly.

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