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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

Cognitive Dissonance symptoms Image

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

What is Ego Death? How and Why Does It Happen?

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What is Ego Death Image

Humans associate death with darkness, sorrow, and pain. It is just something many people are scared of. However, ego death goes the opposite way. The death of your ego comes with enlightenment, self-exploration, and going beyond the glass ceiling.

In simpler terms, the ego is the sense of self typically developed in earlier ages. It is a biological tool that helps us understand ourselves as separate beings. The problem appears when the ego takes on a level of programming that begins to impede the quality of life we live. This is why many people believe it needs to die.

But first:

What is Ego Death?

Many people think that ego death happens when we strip ourselves of the ego and live without it. No, the ego cannot die. What happens is that it becomes submissive to the awareness and direction of our higher selves so that it no longer controls our lives. The experience temporarily and instantaneously goes beyond and above our identities. By shifting your awareness above the perspective of the ego, you begin to realize that you are not the things you have identified with before.

The death of your ego comes with much self-awakening and peace; you want to experience it. It is one of the most beautiful experiences you could have if you truly understand your spiritual path. Such an experience, however, may feel horrific for people who do not understand their spiritual path or people who resist the experience.

Why Seek It?

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People are now going out of their way to experience ego death. It has become part of the spiritual journey for many people.

Here are some reasons to seek an ego death experience:

#1: Improved self-control

People often think that ego death is just for people unsatisfied with their mental wellness. Even if you are confident with your state, its demise can change your perception, eventually leading you to much clarity and success.

#2: Easier time breaking even

Our perception and identification limit us from going to other levels. Our ego keeps us in a mindset that limits us. It may feel like we are living in an unknown shell. Detaching yourself from the ego or shrinking it will allow you to crush your current sense of self that limits your abilities.

#3: Acquire a new you

We often have a rigid way of identifying ourselves. You will easily break even if you realize you differ from the sum of the labels you previously put on yourself. You will be in a much more powerful position to question things you believe in and go out of your way to seek peace and clarity. It is an excellent tool for breaking world constructs such as race or religion, which are often deeply rooted in mind and consciousness.

Stages of Ego Death

The death of the ego is different for everyone. This all starts from the triggers of the first stages and later the intense stages before you fully settle into the awakening. The first triggers may differ, but as the experience progresses, the stages become identical.

 Here are the stages you will most likely go through:

Stage 1: Spiritual awakening

The ego is deeply rooted in your spiritual being. The first step is your awakening from the ego’s power over you.

Stage 2: Dark night of the soul

In this second stage, you seek to understand things. This is after you accept the awakening that comes with the first stage. This stage is characterized by questioning things that now appear different from what they did before. It can be a confusing stage as many things now start revealing themselves to you.

Stage 3: Exploration and curiosity

In the third stage, you explore more to fill the void in your soul and being. This stage allows you to live in a space of more peace and enlightenment.

Stage 4: Soul growth and enlightenment

This stage allows you to settle in your newly found peace and awakening. Here, you have explored yourself profoundly and now know more about your true self. You will realize that you have already let go of many of your old patterns and habits. This stage has no fighting and battling with your ego, as you already have your new true identity.

How to Achieve Ego Death?

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You need to understand some things before you seek to kill your ego. For instance, why do you want to experience it? Understand that a spiritual ego is not something casual. You want to go in entirely understanding why you want to do it and the consequences of taking the path.

Many people intentionally seek ego death. Deliberately seeking it can be dangerous; proceed with caution. Ensure you are ready for it before you dive right in. If you are sure of your intentions, you can take the paths that lead to the death of your ego.

With all this imperatively said and done, you can proceed and trigger an ego death. Here are some of the ways people do it:

  • Attending spiritual retreats and workshops that guide you through it;
  • Performing specific types of breathing exercises and meditation practices;
  • Following the teachings of spiritual teachers rooted in spiritual awakening;
  • Entering altered states of consciousness, which may involve meditation, dancing, chanting, and other mystical paths; 
  • Getting involved in mystical, spiritual traditions that offer pathways to ego death.      

What Does the Death of Ego Feel Like? 

You might want to know what ego death feels like before you go for it. Your feelings will definitely be intense. It may feel horrific or exciting, or an alternation between the two. People often experience both extremes while undergoing this death.

What Next? 

After an ego death comes rebirth. A new you will be born with no barriers that limit your journey and abilities. Such death powerfully awakens the mind making your life change forever.

Ego death is not the end of spiritual awakening but rather a new beginning of deeper purpose and meaning.

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Personal Development

Self-limiting Beliefs: How to Overcome Fear and Break Our Limitations

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Earlier in life, I was always afraid of senior career positions. I used to apply for junior and entry-level jobs even after many years of employment because I didn’t believe I could handle the senior ranks. Yet each time a senior position became vacant, I was the first person the boss would contact. They saw my potential, but I could never see it because of my self-limiting beliefs. 

Eventually, I would find a reason to decline the promotion. What are you struggling with?

Believe it or not, we all battle with self-limiting beliefs. Are you fearful of signing up for that mortgage because you’re so scared you might not pay it fully? Or is committing to a relationship an uphill task for you?

In this article, I will discuss this fear within us and share practical tips for overcoming these self-limiting beliefs. 

What are Self-limiting Beliefs?

Fact: There are no limits to what you can achieve except for the limits you set in your mind. And this is what sets humans apart. Some people become iconic leaders while others amass massive wealth, yet some still struggle in life. This is one way of looking at it. For you and me, think of the small challenges you encounter in life. Are you truly incapable of handling them, or are you just afraid of trying and failing? 

Self-limiting beliefs are self-developed thoughts, consciously or subconsciously, that we use to convince ourselves that we can’t do something because we are afraid of failing or getting hurt. Consequently, we don’t even allow ourselves to try. Such limiting thoughts are one of the biggest preventers of achieving our goals. And that’s why we need to learn to control and eventually overcome them. So how do we do that?

Practical Steps to Overcome Self-limiting Beliefs

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#1: Identify Your Limiting Belief(s)

What are you so afraid of and why? 

  • Are you scared of getting married because your father abused your mom? 
  • Are you afraid of getting kids because your parents abandoned you when you were little? 
  • Are you afraid of management positions at work because you feel voiceless?

Identifying your self-made limits is your first step to overcoming them. You will need to use your intelligence and accept vulnerability, more like healing your inner child.

#2: Work On Your Confidence

There are several ways to develop self-confidence. The easiest is the use of positive affirmations. The idea is to re-condition your mind into believing what you had otherwise categorized as impossible. You could also apply the law of attraction. Anything you focus your mind on without a shred of doubt eventually comes to be. If you constantly think about boldness, confidence, and assertion, you eventually become bolder, more confident, and more assertive.  

Self-confidence enables us to move out of our comfort zone. We are no longer afraid to try because we believe in our potential. And even if you fail, you believe you can win tomorrow. Besides, you become your own cheerleader and no longer seek approval from others. That’s how powerful we become when we are confident from the inside.  

#3: Set New Goals

Be realistic and set achievable targets. However, always have one clear goal at all times that you’re working towards. That goal should be the most significant on your list. Also, note that big goals are good, but they can demotivate you. Divide these goals into smaller tasks that you can easily achieve. 

For every achievement, your mind registers a win and naturally handles the next task with ease. This way, you find yourself accomplishing tasks you never imagined were possible and consequently become unstoppable in achieving your lifelong dreams. 

#4: Challenge Your Thoughts

Why do you give yourself bad labels such as “I am stupid, slow, worthless, ugly, useless,” etc.? Is it because someone in your past called you that? Did they really have a solid basis to give you that label? How well do they know you? Have they seen the woman or man you have become lately? 

Asking your inner self such questions helps you to look at the other side of the coin. For example, just because my skin has acne doesn’t mean I’m ugly. It’s just one of the many stages in life. And just because I have mobility challenges doesn’t mean I am useless. I still have the brain and hands to write my next bestseller. Challenge your thoughts, whether good or bad, and you will realize that not every gospel you hear is factual. 

#5: Develop an Alternative Plan

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We don’t have control over our limiting beliefs because they provide a soft fallback. We don’t take risks because we fear getting hurt or hurting others. Say, for example, you’re afraid of getting kids because you’re scared you’ll never be a good mom. Instead of dwelling on being single for the rest of your life, how about you start accommodating other kids in your home and see how well you nurture them? 

You can request your siblings or friends to drop off their toddlers over the weekend and dedicate your energy to looking after them just as if they were your own. After a few months, your natural motherly instincts will start to kick in, and who knows, you might start looking at kids differently. 

If you’re afraid of public speaking because you feel invisible or you’re afraid your voice is not good enough, how about you start by recording podcasts?

Or, if you constantly feel worthless, how about starting a small project that gives you a sense of belonging? Like donating your coffee to a homeless person every morning. Or helping an elderly neighbor water their flowers every weekend. 

The Bottom Line

It’s very easy to develop self-limiting beliefs, especially with a rough childhood or a traumatic past. Our mind is constantly working to protect our fragile ego from getting hurt again. However, the sooner you realize how much you have been missing in your quest to play safe, the sooner you need to break these limiting thoughts and redefine yourself. Your potential starts and ends in your mind. Dare to dream again and develop unshakable confidence because only you can do it. 

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Personal Development

8 Signs You Are a Free Spirit Who Can Never Be Tamed

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If you are a free spirit, chances are you struggle to fit in your family or friend’s circles. That is normal. See, as a true spirit, you value your freedom over complacency. You would rather dictate the terms of your life than conform to societal norms.

Well, this nonconformist attitude to life is never free of cost. You may have to get out of your comfort zone, let go of your societal security, look different, and even suffer harm. But, how do you know if you are a free spirit and not just a rebellious person?

This article will discuss the 8 common signs to guide you.

But first:

Understanding the Free Spirit

A free spirit starts from the mind. You live free of domination from any oppressive thoughts, ideas, or notions imposed on you by others. Unlike rebellion, true freedom is about respectfully liberating your mind and body, to coexist with others at peace.

Likewise, a free spirit will not replace one oppressive thought with another. Instead, this person seeks the truth and lives by it. For example, many celebrities that claim to be free spirits are doing so superficially. They may still ascribe to certain notions that are oppressive to their audience. Like the idea of going organic but allowing the use of plastics from a certain brand.

The Signs

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If you are a true free spirit, then you can relate to most of the signs below: –

#1: Strong Desire for Freedom

Did you ever quit a well-paying job to pursue a digital nomad lifestyle that pays less than half of your salary? Your strong desire to be free and set your lifestyle standards indicates a truly free-spirited person. See, free-spirited people make lifestyle decisions that prioritize their freedoms.

#2: Abhor Restrictions

In line with a desire for freedom, free spirits despise any restrictions imposed by others in their lives. If you are one, you could be struggling with committing to a deadline, target, or relationship.

And for the career persons, free spirits hop from one organization to another, dreading to be confined at one company for too long. Here, the free spirit struggles to commit to another person or purpose but looks forward to waking up to new challenges or surprises.  

#3: Welcome Challenges

A free spirit encounters problems like any other person. However, they see the problems as new challenges, not threats. Consequently, a free spirit gets excited, not worried when facing challenges.

#4: Spontaneous

A free spirit comes up with rushed decisions that change the course of their lifestyles forever. For example, they may wake up and decide to shift to a new neighborhood, enroll in the gym, or make a swift financial investment. Or, they may change their minds about getting married, having kids, or setting up their businesses. 

These persons hold no attachment to anyone or anything, hence appearing as unserious. As a result, others find it hard to understand why this person can’t stay consistent. 

#5: Unconventionality

Free spirits do things their way. They question any societal expectations and are the last persons to adopt them. Likewise, they are never intimidated by those around them. Instead, they stick to their decisions regardless of how foreign they sound to the masses. 

#6: Insatiable

A free spirit is insatiable. Your goals are different, settling for a better or unique lifestyle from the one your peers are content with. For example, your dream when clearing college was never a well-paying job, the latest car, and a home with kids. Instead, you think of opportunities that will allow you to try new things.

For example, you could be a die-hard globetrotter even though you may not have the means to travel at the moment. You are the kind of person who is content with living from a suitcase for years as you travel around the world.

#7: Great Achievers, Innovators, Dreamers

Now, a free spirit may appear spontaneous and unserious with life, but they have a clear perspective of what they want to achieve. This person comes up with fresh ideas that promise to solve world challenges. And it is the excitement of this new challenge that fuels their desire to achieve the set goals.

wild and free image

#8: Relentless

Free spirits always seek ways of how to make the impossibilities in their lives possible. For example, they will question why it takes three days and not a day for an online shopping order to arrive at their doorstep. And, they will use the latest facts to question current theories.

In turn, these persons never quit. They appear stubborn, holding on to their ideas until they get the solution they were hoping for.

Living a Fulfilling Life as a Free Spirit

Note that, a free spirit is the best candidate for achieving spiritual awakening. This person is intent on soul searching and questions their existence. Still, the life of a free-spirited person can be a lonely one. If you suspect that you are a free spirit, here are a few tips to live a fulfilling lifestyle:

  • Spend more time outdoors. For example, taking part in dance competitions in the open gives you a chance to free your mind and release any stress buildup.
  • Reconnect with your inner child by working with children. They have great imaginations and love exploring and testing their boundaries. Plus, they enjoy doing role plays.
  • Explore a creative career path like preparing exotic dishes and painting on a canvas.
  • Most free-spirited persons are empathetic, considerate, kind, and loving. In turn, they can be victims of emotional abuse. Protect your emotional wellbeing by setting boundaries on who you interact with or what you explore beyond your comfort zone.

Conclusion

Anyone with a free spirit has the untamable spirit of a wolf. You always want to run free beyond the confines of family or society. You also have a tendency to oppose the normal social rule, being overly independent, and never subscribing to others’ rules. That’s why most free spirits are seen as rebellious.

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