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Cognitive Dissonance

Have you ever experienced the pain of thinking you should be different than you are? Maybe you’ve used the terms: better, stronger, thinner, smarter, faster…and on and on. First off, let me soothe your mind and say of course you have! You are human. It is natural to aspire to be more than we are. However, where we can get into trouble is when our minds linger on the difference as opposed to starting about closing that gap between where we are and where we would like to be.

What this does is cause an immense amount of internal pain, wishful thinking, wasted time, and can often lead to envy, jealousy or bitterness. None of these things feel good and in fact are vices that scuff up our soul, but I think the most harmful part of all of it is the limited ability to see the goodness of who we are in that given moment when wishing that we were not what we are. This creates an interior schism and, in a way, is a rejection of how God determined the best way for me to be me.

This is actually a very backward form of pride. In a way, thinking you are not as you “should” be is suggesting that God did, or is doing, something wrong. That lands is somewhere theologically where we just can’t win, but more relatable than that, let’s draw out how we show up when we are thinking this thought, “I’m not ________ enough.”

Thought: “I’m not fast enough.”

Emotion: Defeat

Actions: I ruminate about how slow I am, I feel an apathy toward my goals, I lose my temper at other people who are slowing me down even more.

Result: I actually move slower because I am distracted by my ruminations and feel heavier in my body. A self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

What this does psychologically when we have an idea of how things should be and line them up next to the different version of how they are in reality, is it creates a tension within us. We can’t reconcile the two - this ideal of how things should be and how they are and so often, we reject the reality of how things are and pine after what they aren’t…and we move nowhere. This is called Cognitive Dissonance, and our brains cannot function from this place. Acceptance is not only a grace and a virtue, but it is necessary for us human beings to be able to move forward with energy and conviction. It’s funny, but often I find growth in virtue to be incredibly practical.

So here’s what we can do. Often we are very attached to our ideals of how things should be and will dig our heels in to how “not okay” it is to have things the way they are. I encourage you to run through your own thought model. Capture the thought “I’m not _____ enough.” Identify the one word emotion that brings up in you and the actions that follow. Are you satisfied with the result? If not, repent of your attachment to that ideal, pray for the grace to accept reality and work toward a new thought that can aid you in starting to move again. For example, “I am in the process of learning to accept the speed at which I work.”

It’s small, but it’s a definite shift, and with more thought work and coaching, chances are you will gradually be able to start to become what it is you desire to be and also have the grace to love who it is that you are. And who doesn’t want that?!


I am a Professionally trained Catholic Mindset Coach through Metanoia Catholic. I love to work with Catholic women or any woman open to processing their thoughts and emotions through a Catholic world view.

Don't hesitate to reach out. I'd love to hear from you if anything has spoken to your heart or you have any questions in general about Catholic Mindset Coaching. Sign up for aFREE Discovery Call on theServices page of this website!

Check out my personal blog, Grateful Blessed Mess, at to get to know me better!

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