Stop Hitting Yourself

Children in the back seat of a long car ride will often do some annoying harm to each other. A favorite game involves the larger child taking hold of the younger child’s arm and smacking the younger child in the face with the hand on the end of the arm they are holding while saying “stop hitting yourself”. Of course the child is not hitting themselves their annoying sibling is hitting them. There are times when we can unintentionally do some harm to ourselves though, and this should be avoided at all costs, there is no need to ever hurt yourself. Life is to short to do self harm.

One thing that happens and causes some serious harm is cognitive dissonance. I am drawn to this because I see it happening in real time. There are men and women who participate in some of the most compassionate acts ever yet will be politically aligned with groups that have a goal to destroy social safety nets. There are protesters for peace and equality that will harm people and cause mayhem.

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Cognitive Dissonance is a term that dates back to 1957 and describes the state brain is in when someone is convincing themselves that it is ok to do something that is against their beliefs or support something against their beliefs. Here is a pretty interesting article about cognitive dissonance.

I am not sure about you but I work five days a week and work is not always fun, however I have at time convinced myself that it was without realizing it even. Cognitive Dissonance is hard to spot and has some pretty bad effects when it is not stopped. It can cause self harm.

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Maybe the best thing to do is take the advice that Polonius gave to his son Laertes in the play Hamlet

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Of course Polonius did not follow his own advice… because it is much easier to lie to yourself and engage in Cognitive Dissonance. Why is it easier to lie to oneself even though it causes self harm? Well I will end with another quote from Otto Von Bismark and the idiom it has generated

“Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.” — quote

No one wants to see how the sausage is made — idiom/proverb

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