We Are Dissonance Resolvers

“Huh? What the heck is he talking about?” Excellent question. Allow me to explain:

Human beings do some interesting things, some great, some good, some not-so-much. One of the things that we do that falls in the not-so-much category is dissonance resolution.

First (an attempt at), a definition; Dissonance Resolution: in relation to people, ideas and sometimes mood or energy, humans seek to resolve the tension, or difference, between ourselves and those around us or those we are in relation to.

In relationships, and this is perhaps the most pernicious manifestation, we seek — often unconsciously — to resolve the dissonance between ourselves and the people we know, or see regularly (i.e. in the media, at work, . . . ). We do this by agreeing with their statements or beliefs, modelling their behavior and sometimes even dressing like them or adopting their purchasing habits.

Another way this shows up (very powerfully) is belief or expectation. When someone has high (but not unrealistic) expectations for us (and provides encouragement and support) we rise to the challenge. We grow and develop; we do more than we thought we could, and often better.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true, when people ask or expect little it is the rare person who doesn’t play-down to the lowered standard.

You may have heard that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I really believe there’s something to that. The challenge is that humans need to belong. We need to be part of a family, and a tribe. We will often trade safety and security for our dreams if (we think) our dreams mean we might leave people behind.

Dissonance in a system must be resolved. Otherwise, the being or mechanism breaks apart. We either level-up to those playing big or well or level-down to those playing poorly or smaller than us (I see this when I play golf all the time and it applies in life just as much in sports). This happens all the time, quietly, subtly and often unconsciously.

Where are you leveling-down? Where can you play at a higher level? Who (or where) can you spend more time with that will provide the example and inspiration you need to play bigger?

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