“Having your assumptions challenged by the wisdom from within you is a clear sign that you are awakening.”
The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Rise & Shine: A Guide for Experiencing Your Midlife Awakening, coming soon.
By midlife we are ready to scrutinize the Accepted Truth we’ve built up our entire lives. Not only are we ready, but we must do this if we are to cure our midlife crisis. As we go within and discover our Intuitive Truth, we are faced with the contrast of two realities: the one we’ve learned and assumed was true and that which we suddenly find inside. Sometimes they are in agreement, but other times they are not.
Imagine what happens when the truth of your Essential Self does not agree with your entrenched worldview. You may not notice what’s happening initially; it will arise as a general sense of discomfort. Then at some point you realize that your old beliefs, attitudes, or values are being challenged. Your worlds collide, two forms of truth: the one you’ve taken for granted and a fresh new one that has been buried inside all along.
The field of psychology teaches us there may be nothing more deeply uncomfortable than experiencing COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. This means simultaneously holding two beliefs that are at odds with one another. Our minds naturally hate this because we want mental clarity and order. Instinctually the world must make sense for us to feel at ease. That’s why our minds do everything it can to avoid cognitive dissonance.
When we experience cognitive dissonance our minds automatically and subconsciously dismiss one of the beliefs to bring stability back to our world. Research has shown that whatever was believed first nearly always wins over new information that contradicts it. This proves that on a deep-rooted level, we prefer the comfort and stability of what we’ve come to believe, rather than to consider a new way of seeing things. The longer held the belief, the more we unconsciously cling to it.
Children and teens are better able to deal with cognitive dissonance because they are accustomed to learning new things and integrating them into their greater understanding of the world. By the time we’ve reached middle age, however, we’ve become largely set in our ways. The pieces of the puzzle that make up our world fit together pretty well, and we have little time, energy or incentive to mess with it.
The easiest way to avoid the discomfort of cognitive dissonance is by closing ourselves off to new opinions and perspectives, which is what many do in middle age. This is what leads many to get so set in their ways. It’s just a lot easier to believe that what we’ve come to accept is the correct way of understanding the world than having our worldview challenged. The longer we believe in our own worldview, the more invested we become in it, and the more we close ourselves off. It can become an insidious cycle many unwittingly engage in for the remainder of their lives.
When cognitive dissonance does arise, it forces us to choose which belief can stay, and which must go. As mentioned, the easiest solution is to accept our old Accepted Truth. Once we start awakening, however, the truth of our Essential Self is not so easy to dismiss. We’ve made the decision to go within and discover our inner source of truth, and it delivers what we’ve asked for. Try as we may, it’s not easy to ignore an inconvenient truth that challenges our worldview in some way.
It requires a lot of courage and effort to even challenge entrenched beliefs, much less actually change them. Keep in mind, however, that the truth of your Essential Self came before any conditioning you received, no matter how far back it goes. You had the innate wisdom of your Essential Self at birth, before anyone taught you what to believe.
Expect cognitive dissonance during awakening. Embrace it. Having your assumptions and outworn beliefs challenged by the wisdom from within you is a clear sign that you are awakening. Open yourself to having your worldview challenged and invite a deeper truth to reveal itself to you.
The path forward in awakening is to allow yourself to see the truth that your Essential Self wants to show you. If you do, it will. And after a while, the second component of awakening – Self-Transformation – will begin.
© 2018 Frank Kwiatkowski, All Rights Reserved