Dissonance in bad behaviour that you don’t want to change can be justified or denied to oneself.
The expression: “I didn’t mean to, it just “happened”, is classic denial.
I suppose there’s no merit order to the tools available to us to close the dissonance gap. Those being change, justify or deny.
Some people see “change” as virtuous; you dislike a behaviour and so you change it; but sometimes changing behaviour is too hard or boring.
Some people see “justification” of bad behaviour as requiring more effort, and at least some logical aforethought. It could be considered meritorious. In fact, my guess is that most justification is delusion. I can think of many bad behaviours that I justify using very poor logic, to which I tell my rational brain to look the other way.
For those unlucky enough to lack the ability to properly delude themselves, the only choice to close a dissonance gap is “denial”. It’s a sort of justification, only it involves complete lack of logic and instead is basically disconnection of yourself from the event.
Just the other day a friend pointed out some bad behaviour of mine (that we both witnessed) and I simply blurted out: I didn’t do that! Which we both knew was completely not true, and I was surprised at my ability to deny to myself even in the face of an avalanche of truth. (Further surprisingly, they immediately supported my assertion!)
On reflection, I can’t judge any other person for using any one of the dissonance gap closing techniques in favour of another. One technique is not “better” than another. I also find I can’t judge any other person for not being able to own their behaviour. Especially in relation to denial – a part of it is that one denies, because one can’t deal with the behaviour in the first place.
Ergo: To own denied behaviour is almost oxy-moronic.
And having said that, I can do it. Which means I can allow a situation to unfold and completely deny to myself that I play any role in it. And when the target event eventuates, I can throw up my hands and say: “jeez, shit just happens to me!”.
But I know. I know what I did and how it got that way. And in order to assist myself in my personal denial/delusion-denial experience, I make others complicit by chitter-chattering and raising my eyebrows and creating conspirators that reinforce my madness. And when I feel someone tries to make me complicit in their own denial creation, I sometimes see myself in them, and it can make me cross and pouty – usually at myself and the perceived weakness.
This bad behaviour in my denial webs I admit here; but don’t expect a conversation. It’s not something I am proud of. And of course, I will deny it any other time you ask me about it.