Attempted Solution 1: We attempt to change the belief or the behavior so that we act consistent with our beliefs. Naturally, this is difficult. If it were easy then we’d rarely experience dissonance (which is not happening!) because we’d always act the way we think or feel.
Attempted Solution 2: We accept the poor self-judgment and attempt to reduce the importance of it. “It’s better than getting yelled at again,” we rationalize the misrepresentation. When confronting ourselves with our own poor decisions, we tell ourselves that “Life is short,” or “I’ll do it better next time.”
Attempted Solution 3: We work hard, acquire additional information, or otherwise use logic to change or minimize our beliefs (and if your imagination is good, this one can get wild!). The general thought is some version of, “”If I can just think this through, I won’t have to feel this way.”
When these thoughts focus on past events, we call it rumination – persistent and repetitive thinking commonly associated with depression (The word “rumination” describes what a cow does when “chewing its cud” or chewing, swallowing, regurgitating and then chewing it again). When these thoughts are about possible future events, we call it worry (which is commonly associated with anxious apprehension). Both result in some form of imagining/reliving/rehearsing a scene over and over again. (There are very few 2-hour movies I will watch over and over again, but I’ve proven that I can relive every line of a 4-minute conflict with my boss, or rehearse my next encounter with him, for half the night.)
None of those solutions work by the way, but that doesn’t change the way our minds attempt to ease our pain.
Actual Solution: Doubts and worries are thoughts… and thoughts are not facts. They are not reality, they’re just noise – the distorted constructs of our own mind. Call them out. Label them as only thoughts and their power over us fades. Or as the Buddha might say, “When you see Mara, Mara will vanish.”