My Map From Cognitive Dissonance to Coherence

From a state of cognitive dissonance to coherence through applying knowledge and turning it into verified personal wisdom.

March 2020 – the world shut down, I needed answers, but all I got was dissonance, cognitive dissonance.

I went through a crisis at the moment of a collective one.

I’m sure this was the common experience for most. And I took solace that everyone didn’t know what was going on.

We needed answers so what did we do?

Easy, google!

So I went to the internet and what did I find? People told me to go left, others said to steer right. “You need fire!”, they said. The next day they yell, “Drink water!”

In other words, wisdom is subjective and filtered through individual experience.

Wisdom is based on your knowledge and how you apply it. Since we’re all unique snowflakes, we develop wisdom relating to life context. Therefore, the sheer volume of information on social media isn’t the place for wisdom. The ever-changing whims of the world dictate social media content and this makes it an unreliable source of knowledge. Sure, it is a great place for the leading edge of culture, but timeless wisdom? No way! Social media is too far on the cutting edge to be a source of timeless wisdom.

The places to go for wisdom are the people and texts that have stood the test of time. These sources take subjective wisdom and make it generalizable. One such text, The Bible, is a living word because its lessons are timeless and get transformational results. This is knowledge turned into wisdom.

Another place to turn is experience. This is perhaps the best place to go for wisdom. Experience imprints the knowledge you gain from loved ones, yourself, and the world on your heart.

Compare that to social media and you get a completely different picture.

Social media turns you into a human rope in a perpetual game of tug-of-war while timeless wisdom is the sheer that cuts the rope.

The Technological Tug-Of-War

Social media is a game of tug-of-war on your mind.

“One of the effects of the internet and social media that I’ve often talked about is the contrarian nature of seemingly everything. If you go online to find some nutrition advice, you are quickly bombarded with 19 different people who tell you that nutrition advice is wrong, the food is wrong, the agriculture companies are wrong, the trainers selling it to you are wrong. Wrong.” From How to Wage Philosophical Warfare, Mark Manson

Cognitive dissonance arises when contrary opinions pull you in different directions.

Cognitive dissonance is defined as discomfort resulting from holding contrary opinions about yourself, others, or the world simultaneously.

I know firsthand what this felt like during the pandemic. I was uncomfortable at home sitting with the cognitive dissonance that came from solely looking at the social media machine for answers. Books and podcasts were better, they at least gave some coherence. But it wasn’t until I turned that knowledge into experience that I began to develop a smidge of wisdom.

Wisdom is the incremental chipping away at your cognitive dissonance.

The only way to gain it is through direct experience which consists of applying knowledge from the information age we find ourselves in.

Verifiable Knowledge

There is a law in chemistry called the Law of the Conservation of Mass.

It states that matter cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed.

To put it simply, your inputs must equal your outputs.

The same goes for knowledge. People tend to have an equal output of work equivalent to the amount of knowledge they take in. This basic tenet reveals the importance of all forms of education.

Learning makes for a functioning society.

This knowledge equation becomes stuck when you are stuck acquiring inputs. This is mental masturbation (shout out to Dan Koe). And too much of it makes for a dysfunctional society – all consumption, no follow through.

You leave this state of limbo as you turn that knowledge into experience. When you do this, you affect society at large. Now you can verify that knowledge as your own.

Congratulations, you now have wisdom.

Dissonance to Coherence

Wisdom is verified knowledge through experience.

And experience is when you apply that knowledge in the real world.

This process makes that knowledge yours – and when it is yours, you cannot question it. Contrarian opinions do not stand a chance against your verified through experience truth. When this happens, you turn your cognitive dissonance into cognitive coherence.

Coherence is a state of wholeness and unity. It is order in the mind. This order is gained when you, mind, body, and spirit, are aligned in your verified truth.

I’d take this verification over a socially fabricated blue checkmark any day.


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