Cognitive Dissonance Is Disharmony Manifested Within the Essay

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Cognitive dissonance is disharmony manifested within the human mind, and is quite annoying. Eliot and Devine (1994) sought out to prove that this dissonance that brings us to a disagreeable state of mind is essentially motivation processes at work. More importantly however their work suggested, and to some degree proved, that this mental stress can be effectively reduced by some sort of reduction strategy. For myself self-affirmations, as suggested by the authors, has proven beneficial. The purpose of this essay is to relate a specific and personal incident where cognitive dissonance was reduced by using self-affirming behavior as an agent for restoring my peace of mind.

For some reason I have always feared heights and as a little child often dreamt of horrible scenes where I would climb to enormous heights, only to fall to the ground. I would often become nervous by simply being near a tall building or driving over a bridge. While the terror was not completely disabling, it made for a fine example of cognitive dissonance.

Acrophobia is a common disorder but quite irrational in my opinion. Regardless of the rationality of this problem it was defiantly real and impactful for me. The most significant event related to this disorder occurred a few years ago when I was visiting my cousin's apartment. My cousin and a couple of friends where having a rooftop party in which I was invited. The roof itself had no real barriers and it seemed to me that anyone, especially myself could easily fall over the edge to a certain death if extreme caution was not taken.

The party was scheduled to start in a few hours, but I was feeling quite anxious and did not feel like going to the rooftop to attend the party. I told my cousin that I did not want to hang out on the roof but would stay in his apartment to watch TV. I am sure this seemed very confusing to him and the others but I convinced them that I was sick and the air outdoors would affect my allergies.
As the party began and then began to grow larger, I felt left out as I heard many people going up to the roof while I sat on my cousin's couch watching TV. I decided to change my attitude at that point.

I realized that my fear of the roof or my fear of heights had nothing to do with any real threat. It was more that I was motivating myself to protect myself. I had always avoided heights because I felt unpleasant at the thought of experiencing something new. I have always been quite stubborn and stood firm in my ways. At this point I realized that my inflexibility was ultimately making my very unhappy, and as a protection measurement I became anxious and experienced cognitive dissonance.

In order to free myself from these habits, I needed to reprogram my mind. As I sat on my cousin's couch I began to realize that people just don't fall off high places unless there is a good reason. I began to think of all the people that die by accidents every moment of everyday and how unlucky they are. And then the idea hit me: There are just some things that are out of my control. Fearing an accident is no way to live, and fear itself is nothing but the cause of the cognitive dissonance. I went upstairs to the roof and had a great time.

I realized that the fear, or resistance to change is the impulse behind the discomfort hiding behind cognitive dissonance. Accepting this fear and incorporating this state of mind into a motivational or positive aspect, serves the purpose of the dissonance. My mind was calling for help as it produced this irrational cognitive dissonance where I was afraid of heights. Motivational….....

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