Steel Notes Magazine October "Halloween" Issue 2016 - Page 92

Steel Notes Magazine October 2016 Alessia Bastianelli – Italy Venice 9.20.2016 Do we tell ourselves the whole truth? Often in life we experience some conflict situations that arise because of the need to choose among an array of possible choices. Important decisions, such as moving to another city, buying a house or separating from a partner, may involve difficult, sometimes painful, options. In these situations, before making a decision we experience inner conflict, due to the fact that each choice has advantages and disadvantages. Some people complete long lists of pros and cons in order to facilitate the decision. Others prefer to embrace one of possible choices with closed eyes, hoping that everything goes well. Sometimes the inner conflic t persists, even after making the decision. To relieve the sense of discomfort, our brain activates a particular mechanism that consists of trying to justify the choice we made by highlighting the advantages and minimizing the disadvantages. We need to feel consistency in the way we think and act. We want to be recognized by 92 Steel Notes Magazine others as such. When we perceive coherence between our behavior and our beliefs, we feel a sense of inner harmony, of assonance between our actions and our beliefs. In contrast, when we act in a way that is in contrast to our beliefs, we experience the inner discomfort—to simplify, we could call it a sense of guilt. This discomfort is known as cognitive dissonance. Why do we experience this dissonance? Usually we feel it because we are aware of both the positive aspects of the rejected choice and the negative characteristics of the chosen one. Thus, our inner harmony is damaged and our brain automatically wants to restore it in order to find consistency between our behavior and beliefs. A way to reduce the dissonance is through change. This change can occur in several ways, through our behavior—we can retract the decision we just made—or, alternately, through our thoughts we can reevaluate our beliefs and attitudes. For example, if the doctor orders you to eliminate meat from your diet for important health reasons, you can follow his medical opinion and stop eating meat. Alternatively, you can re-valuate his prescription and convince yourself that it cannot be really that bad to eat a steak, so you think “We all have to die sometime.”