Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
– Whitman, Song of Myself, lines 1325-7
When I don’t feel like myself- basically when I experience cognitive dissonance, there are two things that happen. Either I change my beliefs or I make exceptions for myself, explaining away the discrepancies and compromising the original thought. I’ve been reading Brainwashing, The science of thought control by Kathleen Taylor for a while now and it’s great to read something and think THIS APPLIES! THIS IS RELEVANT! I can catch myself when it happens now, so I can mull over what it is I truly want to stand for.
If it’s really so frighteningly easy to change and let external stimuli influence our fluid minds, I want to defend myself, ground my beliefs and resist. Of course, this means I have to make sure my beliefs are examined and worth fighting for in the first place. So how can I make them strong? Apparently through reinforcement, so it becomes habitual, imbuing the belief with emotion, and forming wider connections and associations (expanded by experience) so that it becomes interlocked with the many cognitive webs in the mind. The belief must be stronger than any incoming idea that you are bombarded with. I might just make a list of things I believe in, with as many reasons and feelings to support them as I can. If I can stick to what I believe, I can be more sure as to who I am.
The book talks about emotion: ‘Their function as short cut to action can weight decisions in favour of short-term indulgence rather than a greater but more long-term benefit…’
Yes. Every time I fail to stick to the plan, it’s because I become short-sighted for a moment. It’s rarely ever worth it. Gotta #werk.