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Personal Development

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

Discomfort Image

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

Shame image

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

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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Personal Development

Shadow Work: Get To Know & Integrate Your Dark Side

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We need to be whole to live a fulfilling life. Yet, our shadow work represents the disconnected parts of our psyche, hindering our spiritual journey. And, at the spark of the moment, our unflattering past may emerge to tarnish this picture-perfect view of ourselves because, our shadows can go on autopilot mode, operating behind the scenes and impacting our relationships.

The Shadow: Home for Our Suppressed Traits

Did you grow up knowing that men are not supposed to cry? Or, do you view outspoken people as nosy? Well, as a human being, when you are overcome by grief or sadness, one quick release is to cry. It relieves the tension in you. Plus, those around you appreciate that you feel their grief too.

Likewise, an outspoken person can be a great leader if they use this trait to command authority for social justice or development. But, if you are born an outspoken person, and you relegate this positive trait, you lose out on living a fulfilled life.

The two examples above demonstrate what happens when we relegate any trait, whether positive or negative, that we disassociate from our ego. These traits never go away. They lie dormant in our shadows and may crop up in your life when you least expect them. More so, others can pinpoint those traits in you even without you doing anything to provoke it. For example, you may portray yourself as a composed person, only to throw tantrums at the slightest provocation. That shows there is unresolved anger lying dormant in your dark side.

Origin of the Term Shadow

The term “shadow” originates from the Jungian psychological model. According to Carl Jung’s theory, we all have an ego, which is the center of our personalities. Anything that you disassociate from your ego ends up in the shadow or your dark side. Similarly, if there is a trait that you dislike about yourself, chances are, it is suppressed in your shadow.

So How Do You Embrace Your Shadow?

inner shadow image

At a point when the shadow is working against us, it may destroy us. Hence, there is a need to embrace our dark side and use it to nourish our lives. But how do we achieve that?

Past vs. Present Approach to Embracing the Shadow

Now, history has records of ancient Greeks worshipping the shadow as an autonomous goddess or god. The Greeks used this approach to integrate the dark side into their egos. Not so with the 21st-century modern person. Today’s pressures from social media, family, and friends make us neglect our past wounds or negative impulses.

Many of us are too concerned about protecting our self-image. In the process, we deny that the shadow exists in the first place. Yet, cyberbullies and close friends are quick to pinpoint these shadows in others but never acknowledge their own. An issue of seeing a splinter in another person’s eye and not seeing the log in your own eyes, right?

Other Quick Tips to Embrace Your Shadow

  1. Have a calm mind. Life stress interferes with our attitudes towards the shadow. Yet, a collected person will find reason even in the most brutal aspects of their lives. Yoga, meditation, and crystal healing can help in achieving the right mindset for shadow work.
  2. Practice self-love. It will prepare you mentally to deal with the demons.
  3. Seek the truth, not validation. The dark side may have aspects of your life that are too painful.  Seek to understand the truth instead of wanting to feel special.
  4. Journalize the process.

Benefits of Shadow Work – Eliminating the Projection Defense Mechanism

When we repress our shadows, we project those feelings unto others. For example, if you view an overweight person as lazy, or find an outspoken person irritating, chances are you are struggling with weight management or a level of rudeness in your life.  Otherwise, if you were okay with your current or past weight, someone else’s oversize will not bother you.  See, this projection happens unconsciously, as a way to defend your ego.

inner work image

Shadow work unmasks our dark side and integrates it into our current life. It is about working with your disowned parts to bring out the creative, authentic, and energetic side in you. And, the benefits are tremendous.

Here are three key benefits: –

#1: Better Relationships

Integrating your dark side will ground and make you feel whole. Once you embrace your shadow, it is easier to embrace that of your spouse, child, friend, or workmate. In turn, you are less triggered by other person’s unpleasant behaviors. Even so, the grounding effect opens up channels of communication, hence improving how you relate with others.

#2: Clarity of Perception

Our perception of self determines how we view the world. If skewed, you will use the same lens of perception to sieve ideas, thoughts, and feelings from others. In contrast, integrating our shadows gives us a whole, true picture of ourselves. This realistic assessment of self results in self-awareness crucial for spiritual growth.

#3: Raised Energy and Better Health

For as long as you ignore your shadow, it becomes a burden that you carry each day. You know, you are cautious with the way you look, what you say, or how you conduct yourself, not to reveal those suppressed traits.

Integrating the dark side frees us from this daily struggle.

We discover a reservoir of energy that we never thought existed. In turn, we can focus on self-care routines that lead to better physical health.

Conclusion

We all have a dark side that we often want to ignore. The dark side could be the skeletons in your closet that you never want to admit. Or, positive traits like empathy, gentleness, humility that you feel make you look weak. Worse still, it could be demons from your past traumas, lingering in your present life like a shadow. We avoid these demons so as not to feel ashamed, guilty, or fearful. Yet, accepting and integrating this dark side into your current life could unlock a life of fulfillment and self-enlightenment. It is never easy to confront our shadows. But, it is worth your effort.

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Awareness

Soul Searching: Can You Really Find a Lost Soul?

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Soul Searching Image

Have you ever experienced a muscle pull while in deep waters swimming that you felt death was so close? How did you feel when you finally made it above the waters and took a deep breath? More like the breath of life, right? That is how we operate when we keep on holding to our past scars. They enslave us and suffocate our own existence. Luckily, soul searching can help you get back on track and start living your life just the way our creator intended.

So how do you find yourself? How do you finally let go of the past and live a free spirit? And most importantly, how do you stay focused to ensure you never find yourself in this situation ever again? Well, you’re on the right page because this article will answer these and many more questions revolving around soul searching.

Sounds interesting? Read on.

So What Is Soul Searching?

A student once asked his tutor:

“What did you gain from years of meditation?”

The teacher gently replied, “Nothing, my son. But let me share with you what I lost. I lost anxiety, depression, anger, and the fear of death, relationship insecurities, and the fear of growing older. Now I’m living a free spirit.”

Does this sound like one of your dreams? Soul searching helps you to achieve all that and more.  In simple terms, soul searching is an intuitive path to self-evaluation with an aim to find a deeper meaning and contentment in life. It’s that simple.

However, that doesn’t happen in a day, of course, but consistency yields long-term results.

Why Do You Need To Find Your Inner Self?

what is soul searching image

At some point in life, most people are conditioned to live in certain ways, to believe in certain truths, to practice certain careers, religions, etc. Sadly, most of these people actually die without ever figuring out what the other side of these truths feels like.

The significance of tapping into your inner self is that you immediately start to experience inner peace and balance in your daily life.

You see, once you tap into your inner self, you get to understand your life goals, your purpose, motivations, as well as beliefs and practices that add value to your life. As a result, you no longer waste your time and energy meandering in lost paths but instead, you fully focus your energy on paths that you’re destined to excel in. And isn’t that what we all want?  

4 Practical Ways You Can Find Your Soul

#1: Take A Self-Realization Quiz

Start asking questions like:

  • Is this the actual truth or the truth I want to hear?
  • Is this a healthy relationship or the relationship the world needs to see?

And I’m almost certain you’re here because you’ve already started questioning yourself. So this step will be easy. However, the hardest part is accepting you for who you have become now and working towards changing this narrative moving forward.

I always believe we shouldn’t work so hard at hiding the past but rather take the lessons and use them to create a better future.

#2: Experience The Other Side Of Life For Just A Day

In other words, dare your ego. What have you denied yourself for the longest time in your life all in the pretext of being the “perfect human”? Is it the career you never fulfilled, or the trip you’ve always postponed? It’s time to dare what you consider impossible.

However, let me warn you that your ego will fight you harder. Remember that inner voice that tells you “you can’t ware that Suzie, your belly is too visible” or “you can’t get that mortgage Jack, you’ll be bankrupt before you even retire”.

We’ve all had those moments, haven’t we? Sadly we just nod to our ego and say “I think you’re right, let me find an alternative.”

And by the way, did you know you can overcome some fears just by approaching life in a different angle? For example, a bungee jump, or sky diving can help you overcome your fear of the unknown.

#3: Time to Connect With Your Higher Self

Connect With Your Higher Self Image

Did you know that your higher self might be trying to communicate with you but you might be blocking its voice? It’s true. That’s why you are suddenly craving a more meaningful life. Suddenly you are starting to see all the missed opportunities. For this reason, you need to pause and listen.

The easiest way to reconnect with a lost soul is through meditation. However, the modern world is too distracting. Instead of fighting the distractions, how about embracing the things you admire in life. Take a walk in the forest, or go deep-sea diving, or even explore your hobbies and find that spot where your mind is mostly at peace. That is when you reach out to your higher self.

#4: Professionals Could Help Too

Some things are above self-help. This is where you need to engage professional help. Be it your Yoga instructor, a therapist, or any professional practitioner within your line of trouble.

Other times, you just need to open up to someone you trust. Someone you can share your past traumas openly without the fear of being judged. Consequently, healing starts.

Moving Forward

Once you find your true self, it’s time to change the narrative. In the self-realization quiz, cross off any character traits you possess that are pulling you backwards. If it’s the shyness, the extreme anger, or the low self-esteem, cross it off and purpose to work on improving these areas henceforth.

One thing I must mention though, change takes time. But as long as you don’t lose your zeal, it can be achieved. Find new goals and new motivation. Let these propel you towards living your new life.

Always remember, not all storms come to disrupt your dreams; some are there to clear your path.

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