Cognitive dissonance in the martial arts training

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Cognitive dissonance in the martial arts training

Postby Steve Rowe on Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:51 am

Today's blog:

I posted today on Facebook about Firemen who rescued some piglets from a fire and how the grateful farmer then slaughtered them and rewarded the firemen with sausages made from their carcasses. As a meditation I suggested that if that made the readers uncomfortable it might be because they were experiencing ‘cognitive dissonance’ because they might hold two opposing views about the piglets, one because they are cute and cuddly and the other because they like them as food.

This then made me think that it might be a good idea to draw some of my teachings together under this label to explain the difference between blind assumptions that create the condition and using it as a tool in our martial arts and in stressful times.

Let me explain.

In the book ‘The Prehistory Of The Mind’ Steven Mithen explains the development of the human mind as like ‘a Swiss army penknife’ with utilities like the need for survival, the need for love and affection, the need to procreate, the need to communicate and recognising what we need to eat and so on that develop faster than all other parts of the mind. These utilities are separate from each other and this explains why we can see baby pigs as cute and cuddly one moment and then be eating them later; as it utilises different parts of the mind.

Steven then relates how as humankind developed, some people have developed channels between these utilities and can start to relate one to the other, bringing about in some the need to reconcile the apparent dissonance between the two.

So in our meditation and self study we need to recognise the ‘blind assumptions’ about everything that our culture and upbringing has given us as a set of views and values and then apply our own critical thinking to them to decide if we really do think that way and to find what our views really are. This process dramatically changed me as a person as I realised that I had previously just adopted the views and values of my family and culture without challenging them! I had been wearing a mask all this time and not known it, my deep rooted fears and anxieties were borne out of cognitive dissonance because the views I thought I held weren’t really me and deep down I felt uncomfortable with them.

Good meditation took me through this process of self examination to find out who I really was and to find my own resonance. It was a huge relief to eventually discover who I was and the views that really resonated with me.

Then as martial artists we can train this dissonance as a tool when life serves up it’s usual unpalatable fayre. If we have to defend ourselves or someone else, or fight to keep the peace and we don’t like hurting anyone or anything, we need the skill to be able to disassociate our connection to another person to see them purely as a target to hurt them enough to stop them and this is where a trained ‘cognitive dissonance’ can work for good.

When I’ve had to take a loved pet to the vet to have them put down, when someone close to me is dying painfully, when all I want to do is to collapse in a sea of emotion but someone has to take action to get things done, that necessary separation, if well trained, can come to the fore.

If you are an empathic person and naturally link into someone else’s anger, pain, suffering or depression you end up taking on their emotions and life can be really hard! The person might feel better after an hour but you can still be walking about with their depression for weeks if you’re not careful! Again training for that separation, so you can deal with their emotions positively, you create that ‘cognitive dissonance’ until you can bring the resonance between you back is a real skill.

The ability to be able to ‘wake up’ using mindfulness, to examine our mind and opinions, to discover who we really are what we really think, to understand and connect the different parts of our mind and draw on that embedded ‘utilitarian’ part as a skillset takes regular daily training can be truly life changing – and it helps to develop the necessary toolbox to make us more emotionally intelligent.

That has got to be worth the effort!

Source:
https://steve-rowe.com/2017/08/24/cogni ... tial-arts/
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Re: Cognitive dissonance in the martial arts training

Postby I-mon on Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:01 pm

I read that book by Steven Mithen! It's a good one.
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Re: Cognitive dissonance in the martial arts training

Postby GrahamB on Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:36 am

Nobody wants to see how the sausages are made.
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Re: Cognitive dissonance in the martial arts training

Postby BruceP on Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:02 am

A simpler mind is a blessed mind. Not stupid or dull or slow, but simple in its function and perspective.

No need for all the gobbledy-goop and self-examination. Raise an animal expressly for consumption and then eat it. Hunt an animal for food and respect it as it sits in your gullet. That's what separates human from other animals. But humans aren't much different from other animals.

Graciousness and gratefulness are not things one 'cultivates' when survival and continuity are innately understood as a natural order of existence and longevity. They are a human construct which mollifies the conflict you talk about in your blog thing. Eat-or-be-eaten is instinctual and needs no further rumination or justification.

I've watched a pair of coyotes tear a calf out of the ass-end of a cow elk as she's birthing, and then drag it off and eat as much as they could before someone bigger came along to claim whatever was left. I've seen a grizzly sow separate a calf moose from its mother so her last-season cubs could mock hunt it into exhaustion, before finally killing it for them. Calving season is a brutal time for all involved. I've seen salmon on their annual run up the rivers have their roe torn out of them by bears, and left on the rocks to suffer while eagles and other critters pick away at them. Nature's cruel only to the 'empathetic'. Some folks are 'heartbroken' when they see that sort of thing. That's what makes them 'human', I suppose.

Be they predator or prey, people take care of themselves and their own - whether their own extends to others who are being victimized by predatory or exploitive people is up to the individual to decide. Predators and exploiters are only doing what they think they need to do according to their nature, and the nature of their human condition. That's all a person needs to know, really.
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Re: Cognitive dissonance in the martial arts training

Postby BruceP on Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:28 am

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Re: Cognitive dissonance in the martial arts training

Postby Steve Rowe on Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:24 am

So you only read the first paragraph then?
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