Inner Life and Cognitive Dissonance
At some point we all make a bad decision, do something that harms another person, or cling to an outdated belief. When we do, we strive to reduce the cognitive dissonance that results from feeling that we, who are smart, moral, and right, just did something that was dumb, immoral, or wrong.
Whether the consequences are trivial or tragic, it is difficult, and for some people impossible, to say, “I made a terrible mistake.” The higher the stakes whether emotional, financial, or moral, the greater the difficulty.
Self-justification, the hardwired mechanism that blinds us to the possibility that we were wrong, has benefits: it keeps us from torturing ourselves with regrets. But it can also block our ability to see our faults and errors. It legitimizes prejudice and corruption, and can keep people from changing disastrous behavior that is costly to them and society.
We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. ~ George Orwell
For a related article on the subject, see: