Do I Have “Cog Fog?”
Brain fog. Cog fog. Call it what you want. I’ve got it. At least for the last few weeks. Entrepreneurs often say they eat their own dog food. At MEA, Christine, Jeff, and I have binged on our growth mindset food. And, maybe that has led me to my recent bout with “cog fog.”
I don’t think this brain haze is due to early stage dementia. For me, “Cog Fog” is extreme “cognitive dissonance,” or the state of having two or three (or ten) contradictory ideas in your head at the same time, all while trying to make peace with that. As an entrepreneur, I’ve long had a comfort with ambiguity, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt such ideas at war with each other.
At times like these, I realize I need to turn my mental health into mental wealth (from hell to well). Here are three methods that have helped me feel wiser when I catch myself being in a mental tug-of-war.
- Get comfortable with the discomfort. This doesn’t work for everyone, but just acknowledging that life is complicated (especially now) helps me feel like I’m not the only one with cog fog. I cut through the fog by developing Google docs (ask my co-workers and friends about how obsessed I am with these) that help me get all that craziness onto digital paper. This is one way to reduce my anxiety, which is often a byproduct of cognitive dissonance. When I finish my Google doc and re-read it six times to make sure it’s all-inclusive, I can breathe again. LOL.
- Share your dissonance. A good friend or empathetic co-worker can be the beacon of light in the fog. What may feel like cognitive dissonance to you is just “stinking thinking” to them. They may see the blind spots in your logic better than you do. Or, they may commiserate with you and acknowledge this is a complex situation. It doesn’t always solve your problem, but at least you know you have support.
- Come to a resolution. To help accelerate a resolution, I go through the following two-step process: (1) I ask this question: ”In the course of my lifetime, how important is this decision or paradox, and is it worth the suffering I’m feeling?” (2) If there are two conflicting approaches to a problem, I go to bed one night saying I’ve decided to go on one path, and then see how I feel in the morning and what my dreams told me. The next night, I take the opposite path, and once again, see how I sleep. As silly as this approach sounds, it’s saved me thousands of dollars with therapists.
We’re all faced with a dizzying array of tough decisions these days. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to move from mentally weary to mentally “well-thy.” How about you?