Gino's Blog

When hell helps to change us for good (dual meaning)

Leon Festinger is not a household name like Einstein or Freud but he should be because in 1957 he pioneered the concept of cognitive dissonance in a masterpiece of literature.

I have footnoted Leon Festinger in every book I’ve written, including law enforcement textbooks, football books, fitness books, and motivational books. The reason is that cognitive dissonance applies to all performance, professional or personal. Cognitive dissonance management governs our conduct. All of it. Everything we do, good or bad, is governed by how we manage cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is inner conflict. Psychological pain and the soreness it leaves behind. It’s an inner hell we suffer when our actions contradict our beliefs. The moment we do something that opposes what we believe in, we suffer cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance results from a clash of 2 worlds that end up in a crash that needs to be fixed before it burns to hell.

Cognitive dissonance brings us to an inner crossroads where we have to make a choice – stop or keep going – stopping the madness or keep going on with the madness. When we choose to keep going on with the madness we choose rationalization. Rationalization is irrationality that justifies the continuance of doing what we shouldn’t be doing. Here are some common examples of rationalization that justify what’s killing us internally after we do what contradicts our personal beliefs:

It’s not that bad.

Everyone is doing it.

Who the ‘F’ are they to tell me what’s right and wrong.

Get off your high horse you pretentious, pious bastard.

No one’s perfect.

We all make mistakes.

My childhood is to blame.

My past is to blame.

My present is to blame

My future is to blame.

My job is to blame.

My stress is to blame.

What the hell, you only live once.

All of these fall under the category of ‘fooling yourself.’ When you fool yourself with any form of rationalized excuse, you might get some temporary pain relief but it always makes a comeback until we are honest with ourselves and change what needs to be changed. The bad news is that cognitive dissonance hurts like hell. The good news is that it’s a catalyst for lasting, positive change.

This is a copyrighted excerpt from a new book I’m writing. On a different note, I’ve included the following workout song because it fits this blog but the song is not in my top 100 back-to-basics Classic Rock workout song list. However, it did make my top 500 workout songs. The reason is the lyrics. “How can you be such an angry young man” poses a soul-searching question that helps in the middle of a heavy set. So does, “Get up, get back on your feet. You’re the one they can beat” always does the trick when your mind plays games trying to convince you to quit after taking a big hit. The link is after my signature.


Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
Head coach – Niagara X-men football
head coach- Robert Bateman High School – GO WILD.
Owner – X Fitness Inc.

Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. His website, blog, Youtube channel, and list of books are at: His books include: 4th & hell: seasons 1-5, Soul of a Lifter, SWAT Offense, SWAT Defense, X Fitness Workout System, and a 3 business book series called Soul of an Entrepreneur . He also has written 20 editions of 6 law enforcement academic textbooks. A new 8-volume interrogation book series will be released in the spring of 2014. And later this month, a new children’s book called “BE FIT – DON’T QUIT.”

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