Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort that we experience when we recognize that we hold conflicting beliefs or when we see a new perspective that conflicts with our previously held beliefs. Our beliefs drive our thoughts, emotions, and actions and when something shifts our beliefs, it impacts how we show up in our lives.
We can often, however, buy into beliefs that are conflicting or out of alignment with our true core values. Our core values represent what is most important to us and they, ideally, act as a compass to direct our beliefs and our actions. What can happen is that we buy into messaging from external sources and we take on beliefs that are not ours, which results in our living our lives out of alignment with who we authentically are.
Perhaps we could call this misalignment between our beliefs and our values ‘authenticity dissonance’. Living this way can cause mood imbalance, a lack of clear direction, mistrusting ourselves, and deep dissatisfaction with our lives. It is also reinforced by the scarcity messages that we receive on a daily basis from living in a culture that prioritizes money and power-over rather than belonging and power-within. Those frequent messages tell us that we are not enough in some way, that we are not worthy of love and belonging, that we cannot trust ourselves, and that we should look to external sources to fill this internal void.
In his book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, Vishen Lakhiani introduces the concept of a brule– a bullshit rule. He states that we are often trained into living our lives according to rules that have been laid out by generations before us and we are taught to buy in so that others can feel comfortable. In other words, we are trained into showing up in a way that doesn’t rock the boat. Many of us are living our lives according to multiple brules and we are not even aware of it. When we start to uncover these brules, we can also uncover authenticity dissonance and discomfort as we begin to see that we are not living our lives on our own terms.
So what do we do when we start to realize that we are living our lives according to someone else’s beliefs and rules? First, we must give ourselves permission to question how we are living our lives and if how we are showing up in our lives feels in alignment with who we want to be. Or if we are simply doing what we were taught we “should” do. Be aware that this questioning can bring up uneasiness resulting in the desire to change or the desire to numb out. If we want to live a life of deep satisfaction in who we are, we must keep going down this path with curiosity and resist the urge to numb out and look away.
Next, we must take the time to identify our personal core values. These values represent who we are on the deepest levels and who we want to be. When we show up in our lives in ways that are out of alignment with our core values, we may feel so uncomfortable in our own skin that we default to questioning ourselves, beating ourselves up mentally, and reaching for something outside of ourselves to ease the pain. This cycle only reinforces our experience of authenticity dissonance. Once we identify our values, it can be helpful to post those values where we see them every day and to use them as a compass to direct our actions, thoughts, and emotions.
In challenges and interactions throughout the day, we can refer back to our values and ask ourselves how the best version of ourselves would show up in the moment. This can help us to think, respond, and act in alignment with our authentic selves and who we truly want to be. It is a practice and as such it will be easier some days than others, but as we continue on, we will experience more ease, fulfillment, and satisfaction in our lives.
This week, I encourage you to question what is driving how you show up in your life. What brules are running the show (perhaps without your even realizing it before now)? Identify your top 2-3 core values and post them where you can be reminded to show up in alignment with what is most important to you.
As always, I will be practicing right along with you.
Chat again soon,