Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
It’s been almost two years now since the sneaky COVID-19 virus has taken over our lives. We’ve experienced a couple of lockdowns due to rising cases and a couple of variants, Delta and Omicron, which are causing case numbers to skyrocket initially and then it drops down. As we head into 2022, are we looking at another potential lockdown?
Due to the nature of this constant threat of COVID-19, I have encouraged all who will listen the importance of connecting with your body, maintain a strong immune system, and to also monitor your thoughts and emotions. Constant anxiety and fear weaken your immune system and body’s constitution.
Your immune system is your body’s defense and a reminder of anything that is foreign and essentially non-YOU. It detects anything that appears to be a potential threat to your well-being and health; then goes on to destroy and eliminate the threat. Although this is occurring on a cellular level, the same can be said of what’s going on in your mind and heart. Any foreign or outside influences from a perceived authority always need to be questioned. This is where tuning into your inner truth and enhancing your intuition is of the utmost necessity.
My intent for the first article of 2022 is to encourage everyone to find a new meaning of purpose in your life during these bizarre COVID-19 times and to do so, you must deal with cognitive dissonance first; bolster and know your truth and what you stand for; and finally connect and trust your body so you can thrive instead of feeling paralyzed by the fear, constraints, and restrictions placed upon us.
According to Verywellmind.com, cognitive dissonance is a term that is used to describe “the mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values or attitudes. People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and perceptions, so this conflict causes feelings of unease or discomfort.” It is the inconsistency in a person’s belief system, which motivates them to behave and take actions to minimize these feelings of discomfort. This building up of not only mental, but physical and emotional tension drives people to respond in different ways such as rejecting, rationalizing, justifying or avoiding new information.
Some ways in which you may feel cognitive dissonance is as follows: feeling discomfort in making a decision or doing something; the need to justify or rationalize what you’ve decided to do or an action you have taken; feeling shame about something you have done or your viewpoints from others; feeling guilt for a past action or deed; and finally caving into the pressure of family or social constructs even if the action you did was not something you really wanted to do.
If you resonate with any of these, then without realizing it you were dealing with moments of cognitive dissonance. You might even have experienced this mental sensation reading my articles as well. Two ways that lead to cognitive dissonance are by forced compliance and hearing new information. Due to external expectations or mandates for work, school and social situations may push you to act in a way that goes against your own beliefs; peer pressure, familial pressure, and to do something at work to prevent being fired can contribute to this uneasy feeling.
Learning new information such as engaging in a behavior that you later discover as being harmful may lead to feelings of unease. So, to combat this feeling, people find ways to justify what they do or discredit/ignore new information. Emotions such as anxiety, sadness, shame and regret are how cognitive dissonance manifests.
Awareness is Key
This is where dealing with cognitive dissonance takes fortitude of mind and being. However, the first thing that is needed and will help you is awareness. When you feel that uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach or when you find yourself quickly rejecting any new information that counters your belief system, this gives you the perfect opportunity to check in. Take the time to question why this new information disturbs you so? It’s like turning on the light in a familiar room at night to see where everything is versus just blindly reaching due to rote memory. We are in unprecedented times, so choosing to be aware of your inner resistance and then choosing to investigate and do your own research is key to finding a new meaning of purpose.
Know Your Truth
Cognitive dissonance occurs daily in your life and without it, you wouldn’t be challenged to grow and evolve. However, the one thing you do have control over is in how you deal and handle your experience of it. By taking the time now and in the near future to identify what aligns on a mental, emotional, spiritual and physical level is truly essential. No two people will ever have the same perspective, because your perspective is created by your own, unique life experiences. It is imperative at this time to own your truth, the choices you make and the life that you live. We all live our lives based upon a distinct set of values whether it be based on spiritual, mental, financial, vocational, social, familial and physical. What’s most important to you will be the driving force and influence your behavior and decisions you make. Be steadfast in your decisions and who you are, but not so fixed that you block yourself from different points of view. Keep your mind open to other perspectives but know the one true power you have is the ability to “choose” and make a decision that is right for you.
Connect With Your Body
Instead of manifesting the unease from cognitive dissonance that you feel into a dis-ease or health condition, make mental notes, and explore the reasons why you feel this discomfort. Be brutally honest with yourself and see if the uneasiness you feel is due to past conditioning or the need to fit in with your peers or out of family obligations. The moment you get clarity on why you think or feel a certain way, it behooves you to question and see how it truly feels for you. This is how you can bring connecting with your body into the equation. The first thing you can do is to identify your body’s signals when you are stressed and when you are at ease. Knowing your body’s response to certain situations will either give you confirmation in what you believe is true or not. Your breath is another strong indicator — you hold your breath or it gets restricted when you are stressed and breathe more freely and openly when in ease. By building up trust in your body will just further reinforce knowing your truth.
Let’s make 2022 a commitment to yourself and knowing your truth. By honoring yourself first, you’ll be in greater service to your loved ones, friends, and greater community. The Greek quote by Plato is “to know thyself,” which in turn leads to greater wisdom and self-love. As we move forward into a new world, let’s replace fear with self-knowing and a profound trust in yourself and living life authentically.
Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic, in Mänoa Valley on O‘ahu on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.