In my previous post I started with definitions, and now, @danielmiller, I will try go back to milking this...
omg god what a H U G E topic...
"Mental discomfort", "psychological stress" - doesn't seem like something we want to invite into our lives.
Cognitive dissonance is a threat to our identity, our idea of who we are, the way we think about ourselves, the characteristics that define us. In other words our self-image, self-esteem, and individuality.
Continuity of our existence is based on our identity, at least this is how i understand this quote:
"A person's identity is defined as the totality of one's self-construal, in which how one construes oneself in the present expresses the continuity between how one construes oneself as one was in the past and how one construes oneself as one aspires to be in the future". Weinreich.
We could perceive that when we lose our identity, and that is what cognitive dissonance threatens us with, we cease to exist.
And yet there is a whole school of thinking saying that cognitive dissonance is exactly the thing which can liberate us from (conflicts and) life of delusion.
Foretaste (or actually IT): "We all have our own inbuilt mechanism for dealing with Cognitive Dissonance... its called the breath. Cognitions will only ever be... cognitions."