Cognitive Dissonance – The Battle Of The Two Selves

It’s early in the morning when everything and everyone is quiet.  You can hear a knocking, a little rat-tat-tat at the door of your heart.  Yawning,  you roll over and peep through a little crack to see who it is. It’s your LSS (Little Secret Self), she’s speaking very quietly, she wants to talk to you.  She’s always been softly spoken, but these days her whisper is so quiet you can barely hear it.  Her voice sounds almost shaky, nervous. Her eyes are always wide too, they dart around a lot, as if expecting someone to suddenly pounce unexpectedly out of nowhere and silence her. You give her your full attention while your mind is clear for a moment, you still love her, and you miss her too. You even feel bad about everything and the way she has been pushed to the side. Somewhere in the depths of your sub-consciousness you are aware that you’re neglecting her, you secretly hate it, but it’s for the better good of everyone, it’s what you have to do right now in order to survive.  For some unknown reason you are not willing or ready to give to her her rightful place.  You are not ready to look in the mirror and see her precious face staring back at you, you don’t know why. It’s possibly because you are a little mixed up about it all…. Her (LSS), Him (Mr Incredible)  and your Shadow Self, the one who lives your life for you these days.

Your Shadow Self  seems to be doing such a good job of running your life.  Seeming strong and definite, presenting so well to the outside world.  It’s your SS that can keep up appearances and fend off any doubts by playing the necessary games and working really hard… (you know, those games that Mr Incredible wants to play with you, and all the work he gives you to do).   You can’t see your LSS doing as good a job as your SS. Maybe this is the influence of Mr Incredible, or maybe it’s another hidden fear of some kind. Maybe you never really got to know your LSS the way you thought you did.  Perhaps, when you were growing up, you didn’t have any true or healthy mirrors around you, ones that weren’t full of cracks themselves, to show you how great your LSS really is.  You just can’t imagine, that she would be any good in the lead. It’s a frightful thought for some reason, maybe because she appears so soft and gentle, you can’t imagine her showing firm resolve, courage and strength in the face of danger.  Your SS seems the better candidate for this kind of living.

You listen as your feeble LSS is talking to you…. “I know he says he loves you so much, I can see he really admires you, needs you and wants to spend all of his spare time with you. He can be reliable, he’s successful and everybody else seems to think he’s great too, (mainly because you tell them he is).”  Her voice builds slightly as she gains confidence.
“But you’re tired all the time, you have knots in your stomach,  you feel insecure and you don’t really know what goes on when you are not around because he has lied so many times about so many things.  He subtly puts you down and then builds you up again. He changes moods so quickly and when you are feeling especially happy, he shuts you down. He makes you cry at least three times a week and he never says sorry, because it’s your fault that  he hurts you.   And you know this is the very least of it, he’s called you awful names for no reason, he points out other people’s attributes and compares them with your own short-comings, he’s snuck up behind you and kicked you in the back of your legs behind your knees, so your legs would go out from under you and shoved things in your face, he’s had secrets with other girls, loaning them money and taking days off to help them without your knowing,  and yet you keep all these things a secret from your friends,  protecting him, why?”

“Uggh!”  You put your hand up to stop your LSS from going any further, you know there’s a lot more and it gets worst but it’s making you tired just hearing it.   Your LSS goes quiet and there’s silence in the room again.  Your SS takes the opportunity to enter this debate, but you put a stop to that also, God knows you’ve told yourself the pro’s and positives a thousand times, you don’t need to go over them again this morning, instead you let the truth settle down upon your heart for a little while. You reminisce on the days when you and your LSS walked closer together, why is she so frightful all the time, you wonder? As you ponder all these things you come to the dark realisation of what it means to stay where you are. When you’re alone with your LSS thinking about these things, the stark reality of continuing on this way is horrifying, but when you get up and busy yourself with your day, your SS settles upon you again and feels comfortable and familiar. It’s always when you doubt the most that a huge bunch of flowers arrive at your work and everyone around you positively reinforces what a Wonderful You  that you are and what a great  Mr Incredible  you must have.  The battle inside your head is raging. It’s so loud that it becomes all you think about most of the time, stealing your life away.  Indeed there are pro’s to staying, you’ve weighed them up many times. You will have financial security and… “Anything you want, I want you to have whatever you want Bub, anything you want is yours” (quote Mr Incredible).  There will be fun times, trips away, nice homes, you will be able to study, do your art, have a man beside you to love and to love you, (he does love you, in the only way he knows how) and the familiarity of life as you know it.  But after all this is said and done, you won’t have You.

Remember her? The one who was there when you were born and the one they will lay in your coffin one day when you die?

You’ve got a big decision to make. There’s a massive fork in the road, and the paths to choose from couldn’t be going in two more opposite directions. If you want You back again, then you may have to take the road that’s less appealing, the one that’s rocky, rough, narrow, dark and scary – you probably won’t find too many traveling companions on it either.  You may have to take a risk, and believe in You. It will be nothing less than a huge leap of faith, because you don’t realise it yet, but you never really knew your LSS as much as you thought you did. You may be pleasantly surprised. Maybe she can give you a life you never dreamed of, once your SS is out of the way.  Maybe your SS has been lying to you, tricking you, making you believe that he’s the only one who can give you a fulfilled life, a life everyone around you approves of and envy’s.  Which way will you choose Oh Wonderful You?…..Beide Richtungen


Position Vacant – Apply within

Mr Incredible and the Wonderful You  are still driving along very fast, exceeding the recommended speed limit. It’s become a bit of a whirlwind ride and you’re not feeling as safe as you first did in the hands of your once fabulous driver. U-turns, gear changes, near misses and reckless driving have become something you’ve grown accustomed to.   You’d like to cruise a little more, take your time, enjoy the sights, stop every once in a while, have a picnic, reassess the trip, or even just slow down, what’s the hurry after all?  But that’s what You would like to do, that doesn’t interest Mr Incredible.  You’re kind of stuck on this journey now. (As I mentioned earlier, either fling yourself from the speeding vehicle or wait for the car crash, the first option being preferable).

 It’s not surprising at this stage, driving so fast and so crazy, that everything starts to become a bit of blur. You’ve stopped noticing what’s behind you, what’s in front of you, or that which is overtaking you. Your destination is unclear, you’ve forgotten exactly where it is you’ve come from and as for your exact location, you haven’t a clue. You start to live your life in a foggy trance-like state, without the sharpness that the Mr Incredible drug once gave you. You’ve lost your edge, your blade is dull, blunt, and won’t be much use to you now when you need it to decipher the situations which will inevitably arise.

 Ahh, Mr Incredible knows his timing.  It’s while you are in this foggy state that he introduces your new workload, “Huh?” I hear you say, “What now?” Don’t despair, the privilege is all yours, you are so lucky to be able to serve and work for Mr Incredible himself!   And you’ve heard the saying right?   She who marries for money  (insert here; status, security, comfort, distraction, whatever)must earn every cent. That’s what this car ride’s been all about… he’s been showing you how Incredible he is, so that you’ll be screaming to get on board for this project, the one he calls; “Incredible Us.”  At least, this is how it will be pitched to you, but the real interpretation is; “Incredible Him.”

The first job you’ll be assigned is; President of the Mr Incredible fan club. Whoa, back up, you didn’t even know there was a fan club. Yeah, of course there is Dummy, and it’s not his fault either, he doesn’t know why he receives so many texts and missed calls, he doesn’t even know how they get his number!  So what does this role entail, and what do you have to do exactly? Well… you get to beat all the fans off with a broomstick, in the most dignified way possible of course. You get to keep tabs, play detective, bring in new recruits in the form of your own friends and participate in triangulation games that you are not even aware of. And best of all, you get to be the one everyone else wants to be, so make sure you present well.

Ego Booster 101, you get to be Mr Incredible’s very own Dogsbody…  Yay! This one requires endless energy, you’ll need to notice every little wonderful and incredible thing about him and state it constantly  (you know, the way he did for you in the beginning).  You must give praise and copious gratitude for even the tiniest of gestures – be careful of this one, if you don’t say thank you twenty times and shower him with effection for taking out his own garbage or emptying his own dishwasher, you will be labelled very ungrateful.  You will need to flatter and compliment his looks, his possessions (cars, houses, boats, anything he owns) and all his accomplishments, because anything he has or does is the best and does not compare with what anyone else has or does. God forbid if you don’t realise this and point it out repeatedly.

 At the end of the day, you will have the honour of lending him your eardrums. Oh, how lovely, that Mr Incredible wants to come home and tell you all about Him.  The subjects are endless; work accomplishments, new business ventures, new purchases, investment news, funny stories (about him), compliments and flatteries (given to him),  new ideas and thoughts (his), how busy (his) day was, how hard (he) works. He’s eager for your input and is warm and responsive when he can see you listening. When you mention something of your own day, his eyes glaze over and he stares blankly straight ahead (unless it’s some information that may be useful to him).  If you do persist, you may be answered with a gruff sound, but this is your signal to quickly change the subject matter back to Mr Incredible – he’s so Incredible!  Anything else is trivial and mediocre really.

Where do you come to play in all of this? That’s just it, I don’t think you do. Well, you do, but only in relation to your position in his world.

Your Little Secret Self tugs at your coattails every now and then, and looks up at you like a lost little child. She suggests in a whispering voice for you to wake up out of your trance and have a good look around you. Your Shadow Self doesn’t like this suggestion and argues back that things aren’t that bad;   

Mr Incredible is not a bad man, he’s just a slow learner.”

“You’ve seen where he’s come from, the father that raised him, he’s damaged, he needs the Wonderful You to show him loving kindness and repair him, he’s needed someone like you for so long, you are so good for him.” 

Well this makes sense, this is exactly what one of Mr Incredible’s friends said to you just the other day; “You are so good for him.” His mother has said it also, many times. The fact that he is not so good for you hasn’t dropped out of the sky and hit you on the head yet.

Oh-oh It’s become two against one now, both  Mr Incredible  and your Shadow Self don’t like it when your Little Secret Self threatens to push to the surface and take back the reigns of her life.  And it’s becoming harder for Mr Incredible too, for even though he wants you this way, he’s not attracted to the ‘tired’ You, he wants to rule you, yet he resents that you allow him to. There’s an implosion on the horizon, and you can see it coming. You get busy explaining to Mr Incredible how grown-ups are supposed to treat each other, he’s not getting it. You try showing him a picture book of children sharing and being kind to one another, I think it may be called ‘Grover’s Guide To Good Manners’ or something like that. He nods and pretends to understand.

Tired with your new workload yet? No? That’s good, because if you didn’t have enough on your plate already, you’ve now found yourself tackling a five thousand piece jig-saw puzzle. Mr Incredible knows you will never put it all together, he sees it as the perfect distraction to lead you further away from your LSS.iStock_000000884791XSmall He’s even slightly bemused with your obsession over the pieces and how they all fit. Indeed as the pieces flood in they do take you by surprise; your next door neighbour (you didn’t even know they knew each other); a mutual friend; a secret loan; the suicide of an ex.  It’s enough to keep your mind full and your head spinning, another perfect distraction, to keep you from living any kind of normal.

The Sacrificing Of Your Secret Self

Now that you’re all settled back and fully invested into your new relationship, still feeling like the Wonderful You that you are, Mr Incredible thinks it might be fun to play some games. “Oh games” I hear you say “I love games!” The first one he invites you to play is called Prove yourself. Mm, you cock your head with an innocent frown and think about this. You are not sure you want to play, if someone else asked you to play, you would definitely say a dignified No. But it’s Mr Incredible who’s asking you to play, to forfeit may leave you looking like the loser, and you know you are not a loser, you are the Wonderful You and Mr Incredible knows that too, he won’t let you lose, right? Right. There are many variations to this game;  Prove that you love me;  Prove that you’re worthy of me;  Prove that you have a brain, but the one that you start off  playing is called;  Prove that you are better than her. Whoa! You didn’t see this  one coming, but because Mr Incredible has spent so much time stamping you with his Wonderful You stamp you know it will be okay, it’s him after all who showed you just how wonderful You really are!

Round one beings with Mr Incredible telling you how pleased he is with his new employee (your replacement – yes you worked for him once). He comments on how it’s worked out so well for everybody (you, him and her), now that she  works there and you have moved on. He states plainly and without flinching, “She’s good, you weren’t that good.”
Your head spins, you didn’t hear him correctly; he couldn’t have meant what he said. Your protests are met with a blank stare… you did hear correctly and he meant what he said. He won’t be backing down, it’s no big deal, it’s just a fact. The more you defend yourself, the more neurotic you seem, you even appear jealous or lacking in confidence and Mr Incredible wastes no time pointing this out to you. Arrrgghhhh! You thought you would win this game, but alas, you are losing, could there now be a Wonderful her? Oh-oh.

The intense euphoria that has been your buoyancy until now is suddenly ripped away from you and you can’t stand it! You’ve gone from feeling complete euphoria to feeling empty and void, even fearful. You thought you were the only Wonderful, but now you’re not sure. Your soul inside you screams for everything to return to its equilibrium. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t it go back to the way it was… two minutes ago. It seems your euphoria might be restored if you silently agree with Mr Incredible, but to do this will mean to go against your Self, oh it’s a tricky one, but euphoria wins. It has to, for not only has it  become the high that you can’t live without, it’s also become your new identity.  Your Self loses, you don’t stand by her.

Noting your acceptance of defeat, Mr Incredible sees this as an opportunity to introduce more games; Piggy-in-the-middle; Catch-me-if-you-can;  and I’m the King of the Castle. Whoa he’s got you on your toes. With each newly discovered lie or inappropriate liaison comes a reason and excuse; “I knew you would read too much into it; I knew you would over-react; It’s a work thing, you don’t understand business; I lie to you because it’s easier than telling you the truth.” (Yes, it’s your fault he lies to you).  Too preoccupied and distracted with restoring your original state of euphoria, these strategies slip by you, and you fail to recognise your own slow decline. You are however aware, that the dynamics have changed, Mr Incredible who spent all his waking hours telling you how wonderful you are, now expects you to prove it to him. This becomes increasingly tiring and nothing like the way things were in the beginning – (incredible, wonderful, euphoric).  On the occasions when you consider listening to your Secret Self screaming out to you that something’s not right, Mr Incredible flies in from out of nowhere like a superhero with copious amounts of euphoria on hand. Back to his jovial charismatic self, full of praise and focused attention, gifts, flowers, endearing words and declarations of love. Oh, this what you’ve missed and you’re so glad it’s back again. Returned once more to your elated state, you are happy, you can breathe and relax, not all is lost, you are indeed Wonderful.

Welcome to your new world, it won’t be as easy as you originally thought, but if you have your wits about you (stay on high alert) and play by the rules (his rules), then you may be able to maintain some sense of euphoria, it’s just that you will have knots in your stomach the whole time. Whenever things aren’t going so well and you are tempted to listen to the pleas of your Secret Self, euphoria will be restored to you in an instant by Mr Incredible, (and things will go well again). You’ve reached the point where you are unable to function without it, the lows are too low and the darkness too dark when it’s not around.  To guarantee your continued supply,  you will need to silence the voice of your Secret Self, she’s begging you to hear her truth, but you can’t, not now.  Continuing to ignore her, brings about a slow death… she becomes a beheaded goddess and someone else takes over the living of your life… your Shadow Self. It has to be this way, because your Secret Self and Mr Incredible can’t co-exist, which is confusing, because in the beginning you both seemed so compatible. Now, it turns out you couldn’t be more completely opposite.  Your Shadow Self  takes over and continues on in this relationship for you, and eventually  your Shadow Self will take over every other part of your life too. Moving further and further away from the memories of your Secret Self, you will eventually forget who she is altogether, and the first person to point this out to you will be… Mr Incredible of course.