Updated: Mar 11, 2019
Cognitive dissonance is a form of denial. Today, I will describe symptoms of cognitive dissonance and strategies to resolve them. This should help you notice cognitive dissonance in yourself and others and resolve it within yourself.
Fear-based beliefs, often related to limitation
"If...then" beliefs that limit choices (a projection of one's defense mechanisms to suppress one's fears)
Deflecting the topic to talk about the character of the other person (a projection of one's own judgments toward their own character)
Arguing against points that were never made, essentially arguing with themselves
Listening to reply, not listening to understand
A "this is THE WAY" mentality as opposed to an open mind
A "you vs them" mentality instead of a teamwork mentality
Bold claims about one's character
A lack of empathy
Defensiveness toward objective questions
Fixation on external factors to explain internal conflicts
Bold assumptions/claims/judgments about one's character.
Understand that two conversations are occurring at the same time: mental and emotional. Both conversations must be resolved in order to resolve the cognitive dissonance.
Everybody is "right" from their perspective. Instead of judging their perspective, be open to understanding why they have their perspective. Remember, there is an emotional pattern to the story of how they began to see their reality in this way.
Try to stay objective as much as possible. This prevents them from getting defensive. Often times, you cannot prevent their defensiveness. The objective neutrality can still help the individual become aware of their judgment that is projected onto your objective neutrality.
You will struggle to help anyone experiencing cognitive dissonance if you cannot understand the deeper issue at hand. You will only understand the deeper issue when you develop empathy for them. You will only feel empathy for them if you stop rejecting them.
Asking questions is a great way to initiate objective, neutral ideas that can encourage them to look within without them getting defensive. Questions often seem less direct.
You will notice a lot of judgment in them. If the person is not very mindful, they will not notice this. You can bring this to their attention in a non-threatening way by asking them simple questions like "Why?". Why do you think that makes you feel that way?
You can experience cognitive dissonance even if you are "right". We often use surface level truths to avoid confronting deeper truths. The surface level truths serve as a way to validate our overall perception.
If someone projects onto you due to cognitive dissonance, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the way they see themselves. However, if you continue to manifest people who project certain things onto you, there is likely a subconscious pattern at play that you are manifesting.
You may struggle in helping someone realize something if you are attached to how they may receive your words. You should be relatively indifferent to how they receive your words. Their reaction is a reflection of them, not your words.
You do not need to play their game of denial. They will attempt to redirect, deflect, deny, etc. If you play this game, you will quickly realize that they will find an endless amount of ways to deny what they do not want to accept. Instead, try to understand the deeper, emotional pattern.
Try your best to create a loving, accepting, open, vulnerable space. You cannot expect someone to open up if they feel unsafe. This also means no attacking them or their character (a sign that YOU are experiencing cognitive dissonance)
Even if you are objectively correct, it does not mean you are not experiencing cognitive dissonance. You can still use a belief that is "correct" to suppress fears.