Delicious Cognitive Dissonance

A Creme egg, in its foil wrapper.

This is it. This moment will decide the future.

Wikipedia defines cognitive dissonance as being “a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions simultaneously”. It lists several possible kinds of cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions. I would like to add “intents”.

There’s a Cadbury Creme egg sitting on my desk. It looks positively delicious.

I had told myself when I bought it that I wouldn’t eat it until I did something substantial. I’m being rather loose with substantial: essentially, I just need to have done something for I can say “I did that.” This is my latest strategy for keeping myself a) focused and b) from eating all chocolate within my grasp.

And yet I sit here, staring at this egg.

I believe I’m experiencing acute cognitive dissonance.

Oddly, the intense sensation I’m feeling—the experience of my urges waging war against my self-control—is not in my brain, where the actual cognition is taking place. It’s actually located somewhere in my chest.

I find myself surprised that it’s such a tantalizingly rich experience. I’m not acting, to accomplish something substantial or to eat the egg, but just sitting. Being present to my conflicted intentions. I find myself taken in by the sensation in my chest. Enduring. Like a cold shower.

Delicious.

I wonder: how long I would have to sit with this urge before it would lose the battle? Could I break the urge by refusing it for long enough? I feel like I can.

Time to experiment.

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About Malcolm

Constantly consciously expanding the boundaries of thoughtspace and actionspace. Creator of Complice, a system for achieving your important goals.

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2 Comments

Matthew » 11 Jul 2012 » Reply

This is the first time I have heard about someone enjoying the discomfort of cognitive dissonance! (I guess one could say it’s a way for your mind to rationalize the discomfort ^_^)

Malcolm » 11 Jul 2012 » Reply

Hmm good point. I’ve kind of been embracing discomfort of all kinds lately. I’ll be writing a post about that soon too.

I guess I’m seeing it as a kind of mental exercise. Just like holding up a heavy weight hurts, so does this… but like weightlifting, I feel like the process is making me stronger.

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