When Beliefs Collide

Do you know there is a fancy technical term for conflicting beliefs? Psychologists call it “cognitive dissonance.” Its effects are both physically and metaphysically troublesome.

Leon Festinger, social psychologist who
developed the theory of cognitive dissonance.

On the physical and emotional side, we experience stress and discomfort when we believe one thing but act in a contradictory manner. Similarly, it may be internally stressful if we believe something and try to “upset” this belief with a conflicting belief.

This explains why we feel uncomfortable when we see people do things that don’t match our belief systems. It just feels wrong. It also explains why people who are required to perform jobs that conflict with their beliefs can ultimately become ill. It is due to constant internal stress.

But the idea of cognitive dissonance has implications to us metaphysicians who are actively trying to change our thinking, too. Perhaps we wish to shift our beliefs to accept more love or more abundance into our lives. This works well—unless we already harbor conflicting beliefs about ourselves. Then we end up with that uneasy feeling.

OK, enough theory. The thing to remember is that if we want to experience a richer, more productive life, we need to make sure that we don’t have beliefs in opposition to our desires. Here are some examples:

  • Wishing for more abundance—but also believing that rich people are sneaky
  • Desiring a long-term partner—but believing we’re not worthy of it
  • Wanting a better job—but thinking we’re not qualified for it
  • Needing a more peaceful family life—but believing that couples always fight

If you’re running up against cognitive dissonance in your own life, start by questioning the contradictory belief:

  • Are rich people always sneaky? Would I have to be sneaky if I became rich?
  • Am I really not worthy of love? Why not?
  • What qualifications are really needed? Could I learn them while on the job?
  • Do couples always fight? Couldn’t I be the one to end this pattern of fighting?

The psychologists call this “dissonance reduction.” We can change our belief system in order to bring it into alignment with what we wish to believe. You may have to do a bit of research and self-analysis to really “prove to yourself” that the new way of thinking can be true for you. Once you eliminate or modify the old (conflicting) belief, then you’ll be able to accept the new ideas without stress or discomfort.

When beliefs collide, they create stress and discomfort. They can also prevent us from moving forward into an improved life.

If you feel stuck in your efforts to change your thinking, look for conflicting beliefs. See if opposing ideas may be hindering your growth. When you find such beliefs, it’s time for “reduction.” Take a good hard look at them and see if they can be dismissed or changed.

After all, you are in charge of your beliefs. If one of them “has to go” in order to achieve your dreams, then it has to go!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *