Cognitive Dissonance

Yesterday my wife lost her job. The day before that I sliced my eye open so badly I spent all day hiding like a vampire from the light. Could hardly write, because to a cut cornea a computer screen is the modern day version of the rack. It was leaking pus all day. And the next day. And now today. I might need to go to urgent care, but I’ll wait one more day because I’m a stubborn guy and do this shit to myself. “My telomeres are still long, they will take care of it.” “Anti-biotic resistance is already out of control, don’t be part of the problem.” These are the on-the-spectrum thoughts that go through my head to rationalize being cheap and lazy. But seeing how my wife is (was) the family’s primary bread-winner, at least one of those things might now be a good idea.

It’s a cold dreary Wednesday. I’m watching what I assume to be steam blowing past my window because my wife is taking a shower. I don’t really know, because without my contact lenses to my 20/300 vision it could be snow. “Wow that’s a hell of a blizzard outside!” I will no longer make fun of old people. It’s tough to live in a reality no one else shares.

But we all do it.

cognitive dissonance
“For dry, red eyes, Clear Eyes is awesome.” It took 10 years for that dad from American Pie to make me buy his eye drops, but will get some today. Respect the long-game.

I was talking to a new client the other night, and — as I usually do on first calls — we were breaking down the false idols he had come to worship. No, I am not speaking of religion, however, a man’s vision of himself is as much of a god as any — only unlike God, it often leads him not to wisdom but astray.

Many smart, insightful men come to me claiming to already “understand” their problems in full. What they want me to do is solve them. As if I could possess their physical entity for them and get them laid (in which case would they even experience the pleasure?). Sorry gentlemen, I am a guide, not a body-snatcher. But the real issue for these men is that they are peering down the rabbit hole thinking they’ve reached the bottom. In truth, they’re barely at stage one.

You may be able to explain to me exactly what is going on, and why you aren’t where you want to be.

But buddy — you’re only 10% of the way there.

Understanding is the first step. Awareness is the second. Realization is the third.

Only after that does action usually come.

Yes, those words are synonyms. But they are not the same. Perhaps this is one of the ways the english language fails to represent reality, but what you know intellectually means nothing. Knowledge will not move you to action, it will just help you rationalize your inaction. And the smarter you are, the more convincing the lie in the end you will need to shatter.

To beat your problem, you need to feel your problem, and to truly feel that problem you need pain. You need to smother yourself in suffering — you need to feel like everything you believed about yourself was a lie.

This is why the best clients to work with are the broken ones. I say this not as a point of condescension, rather a point of respect. It takes courage to allow yourself to be broken. Not 95% broken — when your life falls apart but you keep the shit attitude — but fully broken when you let your whole former self float away. Few understand what it is like to disbelieve your closest held assumptions, and to actually be open to new ones. Even fewer have done this time and time again.

So for the sake of iconoclasm, let’s slaughter a sacred cow my corner of the internet holds dear: the truth about women.

Many guys tell themselves that girls today are the problem. Or better yet: society is the problem. I tell that to people too, just check out my website. But of course, while that IS all true — using it as an excuse is just bait for the fish.

Nine out of ten times when a man says to himself he’s “not interested” in an attractive girl — even one he approached — his assertion is couched in some sort of moral posturing. “She’s a low-character slut. Most girls are, that’s why I’m not clicking with anybody.”

What they do not see is that they have set themselves up for the the perfect win-win scenario to never gain self-awareness. If every girl who does not immediately express interest and validate them is a “low-character slut,” they either a) do not need to expose themselves emotionally to any other girls or b) if they do expose themselves emotionally to any other girls and get rejected by them, it’s because those girls are fucked up. The problem is the women, not them.

But if I hold you at arms length, how will you ever embrace me? How can I ever say what it’s like to experience you if I won’t let you near me?

You do not know a girl you do not express your desires and boundaries to. A woman is her own person with her own personality and values, but she is also a blank pallet, and you will paint her persona based on your frame. Sweet girls may actually be bitches, and bitchy girls may actually be sweet. But you will never know this if you hold women you just met in such judgment to protect yourself.

Make no mistake — your ego loves this I-reject-you-first approach. But your soul suffers from it. It is the one sure-fire way you can go through life experiencing none of the things you actually want while telling yourself that it’s not your fault.

By the time you realize it (remember, that third stage) — if you even do realize it — it will most likely be too late.

This is the outcome of cognitive dissonance. And cognitive dissonance is a bitch.

Cognitive dissonance is what happens when your conscious and subconscious minds believe and desire two separate things. Your conscious mind has one image of yourself and the world, and your subconscious has a different one.

Cognitive dissonance is why fire-and-brimstone pastors who say gays are going to hell cheat on their wives with male prostitutes. Cognitive dissonance is why third-wave feminists hate “the patriarchy” but want rough, dominant sex from alpha males.

Society as a whole is suffering from unprecedented amounts of cognitive dissonance due to our cultural conditioning (which is quite literally making us mentally ill), but more relevantly to our topic here, men are allowing their own cognitive dissonance to fuck up their lives.

And I do not preach from a pulpit, for I am one of those men.

I have built up many false idols of myself. And some* of those false idols are finally crashing down, because the consequences of believing those false idols has driven my life into stagnation.

For instance, I believe my content is world-class. I believe I get women and get how to succeed with them. But do I really? 

If I believed all of that stuff, why would I keep doing things to sabotage my business? Why would I deliberately kill momentum and indulge in escapism?

If I do not want to succeed, is it because I think I am a fraud? If I think I am a fraud, is it because I am not actually a person who is good with women, or is it because I am that person but I am not living life like he would?

Note that the “truth” of all of this is irrelevant. What matters is my conscious and subconscious believe different things about me, and their argument must be resolved. What is my subconscious telling me? And why?

I have cognitive dissonance, and as pressure builds on my life — and with my wife losing her job, it will — one of these minds will prevail. Indeed, one of them must prevail, because I must cure my cognitive dissonance if I am ever going to thrive.

So it is with you too.

You must stop with your bullshit.

You must stop projecting and look inward. You must take complete ownership — and not just in the conscious sense of saying “I take responsibility for my life,” but in the subconscious one of actually doing things that show you take responsibility. Otherwise, you are back down the wormhole of presenting yourself dishonestly.

And you must do all of this for you.

The truth is we are all frauds in our own ways. We are all hypocrites, condemning others for the things we hate in ourselves. We will never be perfect, but the more we reduce our cognitive dissonance, the happier we will be — and the more attractive we will be to be around.

This is what enlightened people really mean when they talk about growth. Uncovering our layers of pretense. Seeing ourselves as the charlatans we truly are — and then going through the process of challenging that conditioning and becoming aligned.

I may not have myself figured out, but I can help you figure out you. Because unlike my actual vision, I see people’s inconsistencies like an eagle’s eye on a clear day.

You know where to go if you’re ready.

– Pat

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*I do not know all of my false idols. Many are still hidden from me. Uncovering them is the nature of growth, and an unending process.

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