Cognitive Dissonance in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: What It Is, Why It Happens and How to Resolve It – Get your cognitive dissonance healing toolbox right here.
Identify and Understand Cognitive Dissonance
What is cognitive dissonance? The cognitive dissonance theory was first introduced by an American social psychologist named Leon Festinger in 1957. Essentially, it states that humans are predisposed to seek internal consistency. That means that, in general, our beliefs, thoughts and opinions must correspond with our actions, behavior. and attitude.
This way, we don’t feel the stress of trying to live in a way that doesn’t correspond to our beliefs. But if dissonance, discomfort or inconsistency of any kind is experienced, we tend to feel psychological discomfort and strive hard to reduce it, or to avoid it altogether. What this means is that we have a sort of pre-determined drive to hold all our attitudes and behavior in harmony and avoid disharmony (or dissonance). This is known as the principle of cognitive consistency.
When our attitudes or behaviors don’t match, it creates dissonance. If we are going to get rid of the dissonance, we must change something. We aren’t programmed to allow the dissonance to continue – in fact, we will feel mild to serious mental and emotional stress if we aren’t allowed to resolve it. But here’s where your narcissist comes in: since they make it nearly impossible for us to remain sane AND resolve the dissonance, this adds to our already-full emotional plate.
How much damage it causes us depends on the level to which we take seriously the issue over which we have cognitive dissonance. Of course, the theory is the greater the dissonance the more you will naturally feel motivated to resolve it.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.