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8 Signs You Could Be Going Through Cognitive Dissonance

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As per Festinger’s (Leon) Cognitive Dissonance theory, we all have an inner urge to hold on to our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, even when these value systems get challenged later in life. We want to make sense of our actions by avoiding any disharmony in our thought process. Yet, everyone goes through a stage in their lives where one or more of their belief systems get questioned. Will you hold on to what you believe even when you feel you could be wrong? What happens if you do so?

Let me introduce you to the concept of cognitive dissonance. It is an inevitable process that can hinder our success and chances of living a healthy life. That’s why you must know how to detect it and take appropriate steps to overcome it.

What is Cognitive Dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance is psychological stress that happens when one has an inconsistent or conflicting thought process. Here, the individual has value systems, attitudes towards life, and others, or makes decisions which seem to contradict one another. For example, the person may be a vocal advocate against smoking, yet they are chain smokers themselves. Or, a person struggling with obesity understands the kind of health complications that come with the condition, yet they make no effort to change their eating habits. It is an ongoing mental battle on what to do and not do, followed by regret or guilt that brings about the stress.

Tell Tale Signs of Cognitive Dissonance

#1: A Nagging Discomfort

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Do you feel squeamish when you think of doing something? For example, you’ve just heard that Apple has a release of the latest iPhone. You rush to the stores to check it out. The price tag matches your three months savings for a smart TV. If the thought of spending your savings on this new phone sends a sharp discomfort to the pit of your stomach, you could be experiencing cognitive dissonance. You know buying the new phone is an impulse decision. And, chances are, you already have a phone with all the functionalities that you need.

#2: Avoiding Direct Conflict

How do you handle conflict when it happens? Do you change the subject to avoid a confrontation or do you postpone the matter and agree to address it at a later date or time? Similarly, do you pretend like you never notice the big elephant in the room, even when everyone else expects you to act? All these are typical responses of someone going through cognitive dissonance. Here, you’d somewhat opt for least resistance than acknowledge and deal with the mental conflict in you.

#3: Obey My Instructions, But Ignore My Actions

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We’ve all heard of the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do”. Well, that’s a clear sign of cognitive dissonance. For example, it could be a professional financial planner who is wallowing in debt. Such finance experts earn a living by teaching others about financial freedom, yet, they never implement these principles in their lifestyles. A 2002 publication in the Journal of Financial Research noted this behavior amongst mutual fund investors.

#4: Mood Swings

Cognitive dissonance creates an emotional imbalance that can alter our moods at the snap of a finger. This roller coaster of emotions leaves the individual sad for no apparent reason. And, when the mood swings recur, it becomes challenging to maintain long term relationships. Also, be on the lookout for the following signs: –

  • Struggling with low energy levels
  • Lack of interest in what you once enjoyed
  • Over-eating or under-eating
  • Irritability
  • Over-indulgence in alcohol or drugs
  • A feeling of worthlessness
  • Lack of concentrations

#5: FOMO

FOMO Image

FOMO refers to the Fear of Missing Out. It is a social anxiety that makes someone feel like they are missing out on being somewhere or with someone. For example, a person going through FOMO may buy an expensive car to fit in with a clique of wealthy friends. Today, this social anxiety mostly arises from obsessions with trends on social media. Due to cognitive dissonance, the individual feels a need to stay connected to the other person. Hence, they do all they can to buy stuff, visit places, or do things that are similar to this other person.

#6: Guilty Feeling

When we do what we know is wrong or against our value system, the after-effect is a sense of guilt. These guilty feelings are hard to suppress. They dent our self-image and can manifest in the following ways: –

  • Struggling to maintain professional relationships
  • Engaging in offensive jokes
  • Become disengaged, spending more time battling intrusive thoughts
  • Over-react to minor criticism
  • Become paranoid
  • Compromising on your goals for success

#7: Constant Shame

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Alongside guilt is a shame, self-defeating behavior that makes us feel sad, empty, frightened, lonely, and even tired. Indeed, the list of toxic after-effects of regret is endless. Often, it is described as the Homer D’oh syndrome, whereby, the guilty feelings trigger a compounding effect of other negative emotions. Typical signs include: –

  • Something weighing down on the mind yet you cannot pinpoint it
  • Feeling responsible for the entire universe
  • Walking around with a “leave me alone” look
  • Knowing you want truce but find it hard to ask for it
  • Sudden lack of motivation
  • Constant negative self-talk

#8: Dismissive Chatter (Rationalization)

A person going through cognitive dissonance tends to rationalize their thoughts and decisions, even when they know the true facts in the back of their mind. For example, when in an abusive relationship, the victim may try to justify why their partners are mistreating them. Yet, they know a healthy relationship ought to be free of abuse. This victim tries to be optimistic that some good will come out of the bad situation. Only that, the end is not always positive.

Conclusion

If you sense that you are going through cognitive dissonance, there is usually a way out of this stressful cycle. First, acknowledge and understand what you are going through. Focus on a course of action that will help you align your thoughts and change your behavior. For example, practicing mindful meditation can help you reprogram your subconscious mind and change the conflicting belief. Also, find an accountability partner or a mentor who can help you achieve conscious discipline goals. Finally, stay informed for better decision making.

Katya Ki is the Founder of SOLANCHA Magazine, a Metaphysical Expert, a Reiki Master, and Human Rights Attorney. She has been studying Eastern metaphysics, cosmology, and esotericism for almost 20 years now. And she's still discovering new knowledge, which is hidden in ancient teachings. During her pilgrimage to the monastery of Saint Catherine in Egypt, she discovered the SOLANCHA System. This is how the SOLANCHA journey started!

Personal Development

Soul Loss: 5 Signs You Are Going Through It

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Did you know that our minds and bodies activate an elaborate survival mechanism when we undergo immense emotional or physical trauma? Think of that fatal road accident where the victim is the only survivor, the loss of a loved one, a painful divorce, or child molestation. 

Scientific studies  suggest that excessive stress induces the reprogramming of particular brain receptors at the amygdala (the brain’s emotional center). These protect us from developing uncontrollable fear. One of the effects of such brain coping mechanisms is soul loss.

A part of our soul leaves the body, allowing us to survive the trauma. Have you ever experienced soul loss? How did it happen, and what were the implications? Here is a detailed guide: –

Understanding Soul Loss

Psychologists define soul loss as the departure of the soul from the physical body and traveling through spiritual realms, with a possibility of not returning. For, the traumatized part of the soul fragments and disassociates from the body. Likewise, Animism reasons that the soul can detach from the body and wander into the spiritual realms as we sleep. And, spiritual practitioners like Shamans can guide and control a wandering soul, back to its body.

Below are typical phrases persons undergoing soul loss would use describing it: –

  • Feeling lost, living in a limbo
  • Someone mentions that they have never been the same ever since a certain traumatic event happened
  • They feel that a part of them is missing
  • Feeling like their lives are shattering into many pieces

Fortunately, this experience shields the sufferer from the painful psychological aftermath of the traumatic events. And, once the trauma is over, the soul should return. 

Why It Happens

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Now, you may experience soul loss when dealing with emotional, physical, or sexual trauma. Typical instances include undergoing sexual abuse, domestic violence, extreme bodily injury, or molestation during childhood. Here, the trauma triggers the soul to flee the body, allowing us to survive the traumatic experience.

Can Soul Loss Be Permanent?

Yes. First, if the traumatic experience is ongoing, soul loss can be permanent. Here, the soul detaches from the body, and for unknown reasons, cannot find its way back to the body. For example, a soldier who spends years in the war zones, dealing with one trauma after another may experience permanent soul loss. 

Secondly, Ghost Sickness can cause permanent soul loss. Here, the ghost of a deceased person may lure the nocturnal wandering soul away from the body.

Thirdly, if the soul loss is due to the action of a discarnate entity like sorcery, it may never return to the body.

Implications of Permanent Soul Loss

Permanent soul loss can lead to illness or even death.  The illnesses are psychological. They include going into a coma, having fainting fits, prolonged loss of consciousness, or getting epileptic seizures. Often, when a soul departs the body, it heads to the land of the dead. The closer it gets in contact with the dead, the body becomes weak, and the person looks delirious. A shaman can intercept this wandering soul before it reaches the land of the dead, otherwise, the person dies.

5 Signs You Are Experiencing Soul Loss

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#1: Unending Grief

Soul loss causes deep sadness that never seems to end. Only, those around you may hardly detect the profound grief as it may not interfere with your daily activities. But, unless you address the grief, it will grow and transform into an illness.

#2: Addictions

Soul loss prevents us from connecting with what we consider as essential in our lives. Eventually, you may turn to addictions, substance abuse, workaholism, eating disorders, unhealthy sexual relationships, dogmatic beliefs, or stimulants to try and fill the void.

#3: Chronic Depression

A traumatic experience that results in soul loss may be followed by a massive depression episode. Here, you may lose interest in your career or hobbies. Constant sadness may prompt you to shut out your friends and loved ones.

These feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness may last for weeks or months. Note that, chronic depression is a mental disorder treatable via medical interventions. You should seek medical help as soon as possible.

#4: Suicidal Tendencies

Chronic depression, if not treated, may lead to suicidal thoughts. Here, the victim’s search for meaning in life seems to bear no fruit. It is the ultimate effect of depression eating away at what we consider our basis for living until we remain hollow inside.  In turn, they see death as the only way out of their current anguish.

#5: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Syndrome (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is quite common with war veterans returning home from war. For, these former soldiers have had their spirits exposed to immense degradation. 

However, these victims stop speaking about war or the unimaginable horrors they witnessed ever again. In turn, the silence takes a toll on their family, relationships, and future careers and hobbies. PTSD may also occur due to a mother who had painful childbirth, refugees fleeing war in their countries, and accidents that involve severe trauma. Hypnosis is one of the effective ways of managing PTSD.

Soul Retrieval

Soul Retrieval Image

Soul loss results in lost vitality which can result in illness or sudden death.  Yet, this experience is a vital brain coping mechanism that shields us from the massive trauma we are going through. One way to regain your life is by undergoing the soul retrieval process. Soul retrieval aims at connecting the dots in our lives, attracting the wandering soul back to the body. Here are some known soul retrieval practices:

  • Visualization and Meditation – It taps into the power of imagination to bring back the fragmented soul.
  • Tapping into our Inner Archetypes – Use our positive archetypes to unblock what is obscuring the soul
  • Yoga, Binaural Beats, and Breathing Exercises – Alter our state of consciousness to guide the spirit back to the body
  • Self-Hypnosis – Works like yoga and meditation
  • Prayer and Mantra – Wade off negative energies that may have a hold on the wandering soul.

Conclusion

Soul loss may happen to anyone who is undergoing a traumatic life experience. It causes a disharmony that is visible as a multitude of illnesses or even death. Yet, there are proven ways to reconnect to the wandering soul and restore harmony to the body. Practices like hypnosis, yoga and meditation, and visualization, under the guidance of a spiritual healer, will help you overcome soul loss.

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Personal Development

The Common Ego Defense Mechanisms and Their Impact on Self-Growth

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We all go through and react differently to conflict and stress at some point in our lives. But, are you the kind that will repress the situation, deny that it is happening, or direct your frustrations to the nearest person that is less threatening to you? If your mind is constantly telling you that you are a hopeless, good for nothing person, that is your ego defense mechanism at work. Mental traps our minds use unconsciously to avoid feelings of guilt or shame.

Understanding Ego Defense Mechanisms

See, ego defense mechanisms refers to the psychological strategies that we use to detach ourselves from any unpleasant thoughts, actions, or events. That way, our sanity stays intact, and we can cope with the uncomfortable phases in our lives.

The Psychoanalytic Theory

Ego defenses stem from a Psychoanalytic Theory proposed by Sigmund Freud, an Austrian Neurologist and the founder of Psychoanalysis.  The theory describes the sum of our personality based on the unconscious mind; an interaction between our id (instincts), ego (reality), and super-ego (morality).

This unconscious mind is shaped by the events from our childhood. It also dictates how we behave when in conflict or stress. If we have deeply repressed conflicts in our unconscious mind, it will show up later on in our adult lives, affecting our self-growth. Hence, Freud aimed at making this unconscious mind conscious and addressing these dysfunctional thoughts.

How It Happens

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Ego defenses are inevitable in our psychological development. For, they help us deal with unpleasant encounters. However, the unconscious mind may be clinging to an outdated reality to try and protect us from the current unpleasant situation.

And, since these cognitive errors are so ingrained in our minds, we hardly realize how much it is affecting our decision making and growth. Hence, you end up with a perception tainted with negativity that results in unrealistic beliefs.

Common Ego Defense Mechanisms

Below are the 6 most common ego defense mechanisms and how they affect our lives and self-growth process: –

#1: Extremism

Definition: Having extreme beliefs about life. Here, the person views life in black or white, with no room to accommodate in-between beliefs. They express their view in the absolute.

Examples: Using such phrases as, “I am ugly”, “Other people are always out to get me”, and “They hate me”.

Implications: False extremist beliefs leave us with low self-worth, hurting our social interactions and growth.

#2: Repression

Definition: Hiding ideas or feelings in the unconscious mind since we see them as too painful or socially unacceptable. Here, the person puts on a cheerful front unconsciously denying any unpleasant impulses in their lives.

Examples: Repressed memories of sexual abuse in a child may hinder them from forming meaningful relationships in their adult life. A phobia for pets due to a dog bite that happened to the child years ago.

Implications: Repressed memories can only be recalled using hypnosis or other therapeutic tools.

#3: Suppression

Negative emotions that block your chakras image

Definition: The conscious blocking of any unpleasant feelings that we find too difficult to face. It is similar to repression, only done by the conscious mind. People who opt to suppress their feelings want to avoid getting anxious.

Examples: A patient choosing not to talk about their recent diagnosis of cancer so that they won’t have to think of the implications of the illness. A student who is sitting for an exam without adequately preparing for it may opt to remain positive about their outcomes, to prevent panic attacks.

Implications:  Suppressed emotions lead to physical stress seen as erratic blood pressure, insomnia, and memory loss.

#4: Regression

Definition: Slowing or having a negative growth due to underlying stress. Here, the person seems to act immature, childish, or in an age-inappropriate manner, as they regress to their behavior at an earlier developmental stage. This mechanism offers a temporary feeling of safety. The person relates to a safer, carefree stage in their life when all their needs were met.

Examples: A teenage bedwetting when they had stopped it a few years earlier. Adults throwing tantrums at the thought of divorce.

Implications: Regression is an ineffective way of dealing with life stressors. In turn, the persistent avoidance of hardships makes the victim over-dependent on others to make most of their life decisions.

#5: Denial

Definition: Refusing to acknowledge a difficult event in our lives. Here, the person may distort their reality by denying its existence.

Examples:  A drug, smoke, or alcohol addicts refusing to acknowledge their addiction.  A terminally ill person failing to seek medical help, hoping that the illness will cease to exist.

Implications: Temporary denial of a serious diagnosis or a traumatic event is acceptable because it gives the victim time to prepare to face the harsh reality. However, if this denial is prolonged, it may result in regressive behaviors, with the victim throwing tantrums, crying, or demanding special treatment.

#6: Sublimation

Definition: A mature ego defense mechanism where an individual channels their disruptive impulses into socially acceptable behaviors.

Examples: A person taking up a dangerous hobby to channel their childhood anger impulses into the sport. A cheating spouse taking their partners out for dinner to try and ‘compensate’ for their infidelity.

Implications: Unlike other ego defense mechanisms, sublimation is a positive way of channeling our negative impulses to a substitute object in a socially acceptable way.

What Next? Overcoming Negative Ego Defense Mechanisms

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Ego defense mechanisms can promote or be a great hindrance in self-growth. If negative, it soothes the ego into thinking that all is well, when in fact; the person has negative psychological growth. But, we can all free ourselves from these negative ego defenses using these tips:

  • Talk about your feelings
  • Control your emotions by performing appeasing activities like sublimation
  • Aim to solve any problem that arises by having a plan for action and a follow-up
  • Reorganize the way you view things by seeking psychological help in hypnosis, meditation, and breathing exercises
  • Try to find meaning in every situation so as you can learn from the unpleasant experience
  • Join a support group where you can learn from the experiences of others

Conclusion

Anytime we encounter an unpleasant situation, our egos will come up with tactics to protect us from the subsequent trauma, hence keeping us sane. However, most of these tactics derail our self-growth. You need to understand how to cope with hardships. And, seek help in addressing any dysfunctional thoughts that are now affecting your adult life.

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Personal Development

Dream Journal: a Powerful Tool For Shadow Work

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What Is Dream Journal Image

A dream is a mysterious phenomenon. Unfortunately, we are not always attentive to our dreams and even if we are, very often we can’t remember them once we wake up. Dreams can serve us as an important tool for reaching our subconscious mind and understanding our shadow self. Also, we can find very important hints to our daily challenges and tap into creative potential if we learn how to do it. A dream journal is a simple but powerful tool for remembering our dreams and analyzing them.

A dream journal not only allows you to analyze your dreams but also trains your memory and increases your chances for lucid dreaming and astral traveling. By keeping records of our dreams, we inform the Higher powers that dreams are important to us, and the prophetic information begins to come to us in our dreams more often.

In this article, I will share with you what dream journalling is, what the benefits of this practice are, and helpful tips to start your practice.

What Is a Dream Journal?

Dream journaling is the practice of writing down what you remember from your dreams. A dream journal is a type of reflective diary, where you keep your records on your dream experiences.

If you do it regularly, over time, your dream journal becomes an invaluable source of insight into your most important concerns, activities, and relationships in the waking world.

Dream Journal Benefits

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#1: It increases your chances of having lucid dreams

According to scientific research, the habit of writing down your dreams increases your chances of having lucid dreams. When you spend time physically writing down your dreams, you’re making both your conscious and subconscious mind aware that your dreams are important to you. This can make it easier for you to achieve a lucid state of dreaming. The mere thought that you are going to write down your dreams can help raise your awareness in your dream.

#2: It helps you better understand your emotions and thoughts

Analyzing your dreams can help you understand why you feel the way you feel. Deep introspection will help you identify triggers for your thoughts and emotions that you may not be consciously aware of.

#3: It helps you solve problems

Writing down the fragmented impressions of our dreams helps us capture some of our nocturnal out-of-the-box thinking and make connections between complex thoughts. While you’re dreaming you can tap into the infinite universal potential that contains answers to all questions. By writing down and attentively analyzing your dreams you can find the solution to your problems. You may also receive a sign or a symbol of the solution in your dream that dream journaling will help you to interpret.

As you may know, many writers have used their dreams to inspire their stories, and even some mathematicians – including Albert Einstein – have relied on dreams to develop their formulas and theories in ways nobody thought possible at the time!

#4: It helps you improve your memory

Paying closer attention to what your dreams are about will help you remember them more easily in the future. It trains your brain to be focused on what’s important to you!

#5: It helps you learn from mistakes

When you write down your dreams, you can go back and review them over time. This will help you see patterns in your dreams, which in turn can help you spot behavioral patterns in your life. This will help you understand your true feelings and gain perspective on matters that you didn’t see clearly at the time.

#6: It reduces stress

When you take a moment of quiet reflection, you experience a calming and restorative effect. Moreover, studies show that dream journaling improves your overall physical health, strengthens your immune system, and slows down the aging process.

#7: It boosts your creativity

Writing down your dreams can help you become better acquainted with the most irrepressible parts of your brain and realize the untapped potential of your creativity, helping you generate new ideas. Thus, keeping a dream journal can enhance your own unique brand of creative thinking, because when you are dreaming, you think more creatively.

4 Tips On Starting Dream Journaling

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Place a pad of paper and a pen next to your bedside, and when you wake up with a dream in mind, immediately write it down. Because these bedside notes are often scrawled in semi-legible form, you will want to transcribe your dreams later in the day, either into better handwriting or onto your phone or computer.

Here are some helpful tips on how to make your dream journaling practice more effective:

#1: Write right away!

Write down everything you remember from your dream right after you wake up (even if you wake up in the middle of the night!). The longer you wait, the more you forget. Stay in bed when you’re writing down your dreams to increase the likelihood of remembering them.

Write down all the dreams that you remember, whether they are interesting or not, clear or foggy.

If you can’t remember the whole dream, write down only what you remember, even if it’s just a face, a place, a phrase, or something else.

Also don’t forget to write the date and create a title for each dream! It will help you to navigate your dreams more easily.

#2: Pay attention to the details

It’s important to include as many details as you can. Note everything that you can remember happening in your dream: your location, the surroundings, whoever is around you, time, sounds, numbers, objects, colors, your emotions and feelings, and any other sensations that you experience. At first, this can be difficult to remember any details but it will get easier with practice.

You can also accompany your writings with drawings. Sometimes, it could be easier to express all the details in a drawing, especially when you see some symbols, signs, pictures, unusual facial features, etc.

#3: Compare your dream to your waking life

As a first step towards interpreting your dreams, every evening try to write a short summary of what happened each day. Then, when you write down what your dream was about the next morning, you can look back on the previous day’s events for clues as to why certain elements may have shown up in your dream. Also, you can look at your dream to see how it might have influenced what you thought and felt for the rest of the day.

#4: Analyze

Once you get good at recording the details of your dreams, you can start to analyze them. Try to find patterns in your dreams – they might reveal what you are subconsciously thinking about.

When analyzing your dreams, try to answer such questions as:

  • Are you always in a certain place?
  • Is there a certain person/people with you in your dream, or are you always alone?
  • Is there a particular plant, animal, or some other object in your dream?
  • Are you always feeling a certain emotion in your dream?
  • Are you always performing the same actions?
  • Are you always making the same mistakes in your dreams?

These are just examples of the questions you can ask yourself for your dream analysis. You can come up with your own that would reflect your own unique experience.

If you keep dreaming of the same things over and over, it may point to certain issues in the waking life that you are trying to deal with or may have been reluctant to confront.

#5: Use a template

Using a dream journal template makes your journalling much easier. To download a dream journal template click here.

Dream Journal Apps

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We live in a digital era. For many of us using our phones is more natural and convenient than using a pen. Some people prefer an app over a diary because they find an app more convenient (easier to always keep it next to you, even when traveling), more secure, and eco-friendly. If you’re one of those people, here are some apps that will help you keep track of your dreams right on your phone:

The Bottom Line

By recording your dreams on a regular basis, tracking their themes and patterns over time, you will discover that your dream journal is an invaluable source of insight into your most important concerns, activities, and relationships in the waking world.

By analyzing your dreams you will eventually start seeing patterns in them, which in turn can help you spot behavioral patterns in your life. It will help you understand your true feelings and gain perspective on matters that you didn’t see clearly at the time.

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