In 1957 social psychologist Leon Festinger first proposed the theory of cognitive dissonance after the publication of his book When Prophecy Fails, observing the counterintuitive belief persistence of members of a UFO doomsday cult.
“In psychology, cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling or stress caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a fundamental cognitive drive to reduce this dissonance by modifying an existing belief, or rejecting one of the contradictory ideas.” (Wikipedia)
Oddly, we live in an era wherein cognitive dissonance is embraced as normative. Facts do not have to reflect reality; truth is personalized and resident in each individual, specific to their experience alone. Your truth does not have to be my truth. Those truths can be contradictory and both held as “absolute” for each individual. Sadly, contradictory “truths” can be held in conflict within one individual with seemingly little concern for their conflicting juxtaposition.
This has led to many individuals shifting realities. When one reality begins to feel less that true, that is the cognitive dissonance grows too large, people merely shift into another reality where conflicting truths or facts can be held in opposition more comfortably.
This is nuts!
People who live in this cognitive dissonance for long periods of time begin to develop a form of personality disorder that slowly eats away at their core values and their ability to perceive reality (“real reality”, as Francis Schaeffer coined in 1963) accurately. Their worlds become fanciful fantasies to avoid the admissions that they may be wrong about…, well, just about anything.
People would rather live within this pathological play-ground than face the real world around them and admit they can’t always cope. It’s a form of self-preservation, self-protection, really. And there is nothing wrong with anyone trying to protect themselves from the onslaughts of postmodern stress.
God understands this. He offers an alternative solution to this reality-shifting— a place of safety “in” Himself. Is it so difficult, for the Christian or otherwise, to truly trust in the God who made them and accept that shelter of safety He provides?! As long as evil flourishes in this world Jesus Christ’s atonement will be necessary for all. I know I need it.
What do you do to protect yourself? Where do you feel safe? What is the basis of your significance? Please, get with the program. You’ll feel so much better.
Have a nice week.