Tag Archive: cognitive dissonance

Your gift is your poison - Anarchist Kitchen Blog

I think it was 1999 or 2000 when I came home from alternative school, turned on Oprah and heard something she said that really struck me.

Oh my god, whenever I’m texting my younger sister and start typing the word “oprah” I always hear Mike Myers in my head. “OHHHppraahhha”. Never gets old.

So Oprah had a couple of women on her show to talk about self acceptance. They may have written a book about it, I don’t remember. Oprah posted a photo on the screen from her vogue photo shoot. The picture was from a few years back. In the photo she was thin and beautiful. She said that the criticism she received from those pictures she took extra hard. Those pictures made her feel like an imposture. The guest speakers essentially drew the conclusion that if Oprah didn’t subconsciously agree with the criticism it wouldn’t have stung so deeply. The heart of their message was to acknowledge how you really feel about yourself deep down.

Your gift is your poison - Finger Pointing To The Moon Quote - Anarchist Kitchen Blog


OHHHppraahhha paused and rephrased what the women were saying. If someone hurts your feelings and you spend all your time focusing on who said what then you’re distracted by focusing on them. They are the finger pointing at the moon.

Your gift is your poison - Finger Pointing To The Moon Quote - Anarchist Kitchen Blog

So 15 years later brings us to 2015. I wrote about that year calling it The Year of Death & Taxes. As mentioned there I ended a friendship which is a huge waving flag that something had changed in me.

The day the cord had been severed my head was spinning. Should I tell her why I’m abruptly ending all communication? The catalyst was some bullshit she said in passing while talking on the phone that day and it lit a fuse. We can not be friends anymore my mind announced but I didn’t say it to her.

A huge amount of the decision had nothing to do with her per se. It became super clear that I was the jackass over extending my energy while engaging with her. I’d drain my battery thinking about shit she’d say & do trying to make sense of it. She’d tell me a story and draw rock solid conclusions. This is what it all meant, every store had a concise conclusion. I’m not kidding, rock fucking solid. She’s incredibly descriptive…. but then parts of the conversation would bubble up in my mind later that day. I’d reexamine all of the details and come to wildly different conclusion. I’m talking the logic would be different, the moral stance would be different, who the true victim or victor was would be as different, on and on. Light years different. Every time. And because all of her stories had a strong sense of struggle there’s really no place to jump in and tell the victim who struggles to overcome adversity that maybe they were never a victim in that situation in the first place. But why risk hearing the words “victim blaming” being pointed at me when I’d hear those were so easily coming out of her mouth to point them to others. In the end we just thinks differently. And the silly part was that I LOVED hearing her stories. I learned major life lessons from the things she talked about. Her stories were so descriptive that it was like reading an imaginative novel with quirky characters and epic amounts of wit! Always laughs to be had and wisdom to gleam.

But when it come time to bring this to an end I really struggled with whether I should say, “I don’t want to be friends any more” because that is an opening line which leads to picking apart someone’s short comings. All they have to ask is “why?” and it’s all over.

For days I imagined starting that conversation with her. Every time I’d think of a way to point out something I would imagine her feeling deeply hurt. Essentially she told me a million secret over the course of 3 years or so and by no means was I thinking of bringing up anything on that level. It’s just to say, if you tell me all of your secrets then I have a very good idea of what hurts your feelings and I do not want to do that at all. Knowing her sensitive areas meant I couldn’t be impartial. “I’m a computer. I just ran a report. Here, go work on this” Ah, no. I’m going to error on the side of caution and not act like I’m just giving you data or “FACTS” as the kids arrogantly say on facebook.

Plus I asked a friend of mine who I think is super fucking perceptive to the trappings of human relationships. She told me an allegory of living in your own backyard. If you’re living in someone else’s then who’s living in yours?

Your gift is your poison - Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about - Anarchist Kitchen Blog

All I could think was, “If she’s just going to misunderstand me AND feel hurt then I what’s the point”.

When I later came cross this quote “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. It pointed exactly to a feeling I couldn’t quite put my finger on. And this is why you stay in your own backyard regarding unsolicited advice. She’s busy working on her own shit. Everyone is trying their best.

I committed to silence. I wasn’t going to talk about her, think about her or see what she was doing on the sly through social media. Internal silence didn’t happen immediately because I was still trying to process all of the mixed emotions I had about the situation. When the momentum was winding down it struck me! Really, whatever negative thing I had to say about her was actually intertwined with all of her strengths. The more I thought about it it started to seem universal. If I say some mean shit (even with good intention) I’m crapping all over the things she should be proud of. Criticizing her really wouldn’t make sense.

I reflected on shitty criticism of me. Instead of staring into the abyss of “I’m found out. Yes, I am still working on that. Why can’t I stop doing that.” then taking the baton to go even further into how this negative behavior is somehow a reflection of my damaged self I decided to turn around. Could there possibly be a fundamental strength to any of these criticism? Clearly by the title of this post you can see that I did found diamonds in the rough.

Your gift is your poison - Anarchist Kitchen Blog

Things are very much a matter of perspective to varying degrees. Just spewing negativity, only seeing what annoys you and obsessively focusing on the shit that stinks is compulsive behavior. How often you see something is NOT an indicator of how accurately you’re perceiving it. I’ve kind of touched on this in my post You ain’t a hypocrite You’re cognitively dissonant. I’m talking about tunnel vision people. Seeing my weakness as the parts of myself that I need to ignore, change or remove might be living in a tunnel.

I love reading books and listening to stories about strategy, habits and behavior. Our quality of life is the expression to our inner world (to a certain degree). I heard this quote which I can’t remember for shit so it will only come out as cliche but this post already has plenty of that so away we go! The people who master their genius are the ones who embrace their madness.

Maybe the old me would have interpreted that to mean embrace for the sake of manipulating and change. Hold to handle & to manage. But current me is hearing embrace as intertwine & cradle. Like the very thing you think is harming you could being your saving fucking grace. Minus crack cocaine.

There's a crack in everything That's how the light gets in - Anarchist Kitchen Blog

I’ve been wanting to write about this for the last couple of years but I’m glad I didn’t. At some point last year I heard this podcast and it completely blew me away. I am amused easily. According to her tendency grouping there’s 4 ways people deal with expectations.

four tendencies four interlocking circles - Anarchist Kitchen Blog After hearing her talk about it on the podcast mentioned above I dug through her own podcast to hear about each of these in more details. Here’s a pretty good overview on the 4 ways people function and the pros & cons to each. I completely nerd out to this.

Her specific way to talking about it exemplified the idea that your gifts are your poison.

I’m an upholder so my strengths are that I’m self directed & take direction from others. You need something, I gottachyyyou! I want to starts some shit? We’ll sit back because I’m all over this. Don’t need someone to remind me to count my calories or upload another video to youtube. I direct myself. Those are major strength but for a very long time I couldn’t figure out why I am so rigid. For years I felt secretly ashamed that I was so into health and that I took it so seriously. Being rigid is complete fodder for second guessing myself. I remember being really into raw food and wondering “Why do I care so much about this?! No one else cares.” I think that’s the main reason why I admire people who couldn’t care less about shit I care about. It’s like “wow, that person is intrinsically more flexible about these subjects than I am.” I can’t help but admire that.

Even though upholders and rebels are kind of on the fringe I do think a lot of my friends are rebels. I wasn’t until I listened to her take on this personality trait did I see that I was judging you guys all wrong. It’s easy to see someone else’s poison but that poison is truly the yoke holding their genius to their body. The majority of folks are obligers & questions. They’re all good and bad. Everyone’s gifts somehow are breaking their own balls.



Cognitive Dissonance (and other logical fallacies) Can Be Sour Grapes – My Story


link to read poster in detail or click on photo twice to enlarge


  • formal fallacy (aka logical fallacies) is a pattern of reasoning which is rendered invalid due to a flaw in its logical structure which can neatly be expressed in standard system of logic. *wiki*

  • cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and they are motivated to attempt to reduce this dissonance, as well as actively avoiding situations and information which are likely to increase it. *wiki*

    When i was 17 (over 14 years ago) I read Diet For A New American and became vegan. Day one started with me reading information and pretty much every day for 9 years I had a book in my hand and I read everything about veganism, health, and how factory farms destroy our planet. I took it very seriously and personally that my diet had a real impact. I was always hungry & excited for information, even after 9 years so I knew I would be vegan for life because being engaged with the lifestyle was so effortless. The final 2 years of veganism for me were done as a raw foodist. I created 70 *lame* youtube raw recipe videos, helped open a raw cafe and found an entire community of like minded people to be apart of. Everyone was 100% on board with raw food, unschooling and conscious awareness (via thoughts and language). To say I lived and breathed raw veganism would be an understatement, not to mention the 7 years prior to that where I was just vegan. The raw vegan community at the time had a lot more gurus, leaders and  the “look at my body” types than the regular vegan community so when a handful of raw food celebrities were having an event the next state over I had go. My friend Jessica and I drove up to Oklahoma for the event. I knew Jessica from the raw food community, she was a few years older than me and had been into raw food way before I was. On the drive up to the event she played an audio from a multi hour long program by Daniel Vitalis. I was a huge Daniel Vitalis fan from watching his spring water videos  a couple years before that. I assumed he was a raw foodist like me from how his water videos moved through the raw vegan community. The 3 hour drive consisted of him talking about the value of animal foods and the fallacies of veganism (raw and cooked). What he was saying was really hard to hear, it was like some sort of mental, emotional, physical discomfort and I was not at all into it. We get to the event and it was great seeing so many people that I followed online including the raw model who’s blog I followed for years. I didn’t think about the Daniel Vitalis talk after that and it was pretty much was out of sight, out of mind. However I had already committed myself to seeing him live, he was coming to Dallas. I originally assumed it was a pro raw food kind of thing but stuck to my commitment to go once i realized otherwise. I knew my veganism was rock solid and his water videos had a huge impact on me so I couldn’t see any harm in attending the event. Plus so many friends from my community were going that it wasn’t just about seeing Daniel. Long story short his talk blew my vegan mind. He was vegan for something like 15 years (his tale is a pretty standard). It pretty much took someone who had been in my shoes, walking my path to make different sense of my journey.

and there’s where cognitive dissonance start to come in……


Don’t expect real science from AnarchistKitchen

Okay, lets say I have a world of information. My brain for some reason pictures a lime green jello salad. Each little chunk of gross shit inside is a nugget of truth, in and of it self it is what it is. Now the green goo could be the whole of my brain on the microcosm or the universe on the macrocosm. The goo is whatever it is that is holding (not sure that’s the right world) life and consciousness together.

Let say I zero in on one single nugget of information, cauliflower chunk on the left (raw food has lots of enzymes) and another nugget somewhere else (cooked food has less of the same enzymes than before when it was raw) and another nugget (our body uses enzymes). now these pieces of information are always out there in the ether. 99% of people will never zero in on those nuggets but they’re always there. Maybe 1% of people zero in on those nuggets of information and with that volume of information the brain could start to draw conclusion. Here’s what that drawing could look like:


STARS are nuggets of TRUTH. The squiggly line is where    we connect the dots which paints a picture that draws                                             conclusions.

Our brains are fucking complex so there will be a lot of information that it’s taken in and an infinite amount of information that is weeded out. Part of how our brain weeds out the literally infinite amounts of information involves cognitive dissonance. If we have a vested interest due to strong held emotional beliefs/past experience it’s likely our brain will do us a solid and just leave out all of the dots that don’t maintain your already painted pictured (aka conflicting information). I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I see some overlap between what I’m saying in regards to connecting dots and quantum mechanics (which I truly know nothing about outside of cheesy documentaries in my early 20s). Remember this sweet chz ball?

In my head what I’m hearing is that the brain is the map, not the territory. So an infinite amount of stuff is present forever and always, our brain takes in whatever capacity it can handle then starts making sense of it all. The more of “I know it already” you are the more your brain will starting taking completely unrated dots to weave it into the really big elusive story of the mind. Ever meet someone who will take irrelevant pieces of their life and use those piece to exemplify what they already know to be “true”? All extreme people do this (I’m raising my hand, super GUILTY). To that person everything is an example of how men hate women, how The Man is trying to keep us down, how shits gonna collapse, how something back in the day is prophetic, how too little or too much of a particular food is the the cause of X,Y and Z.

There’s more dots out there than we can take in and there’s more that we’ve taken in than we can process. So there’s an infinite number of ways to connect dots and make sense of a given amount of information. I had all of the vegan facts, a large amount of dots were connected which painted a very clear picture of veganism being the one and only way for a healthy planet, for healthy animals and healthy humans. Then I added in more information, the dots stayed in the same place but the connections were radically different. When I look into the world I can not see what I used to see as “the answer”. When I was vegan was I wrong for connecting those dots? No, I don’t think so. Am I right for how I’m connecting dots right now? No, I can’t imagine I’m right either. I’m seeing things how I see them and I’m open to change, what else can I do or expect others to do.

While it was embarrassing being a vegan know-it-all but I think the 4 years I did paleo after veganism seem WAYYYY more embarrassing. When I was Paleo I was listening to Robb Wolf and Daniel Vitalis. I felt niave that I believed veganism was natural because of Weston A Price documentation of traditional people each following their same non-vegetarian diet multi generations deep and all having outward signs of “superior health”.  I don’t know of any historical book that follows tribes of vegans for multi-generations, there was no living and breathing proof but just information and i put a huge amount of myself into it. but now i think paleo is the lamest most gimmicky bullshit ever. i used to have a charge with veganism which i no longer have. no i have a charge with paleo, i hear the word and cringe…. i’m hoping to not give a shit one way or the other.

The time in my life where I felt super solid in my brain I was raw vegan and on another wave length which felt almost like another planet. I felt really different and “the truth” was all super clear, i felt spiritual. That was also a time in my life that i was seeking the most “truth” and leaving very little room for new information. I locked my mental door, didn’t watch movies, listen to music, ate the least amount of food, lived alone and wouldn’t allow more information in (or out). So perhaps I had 1,000 dots to connect instead of 100,000 which created the illusion of clarity.

more dots mean more information and information isn’t good or bad, it’s what’s already there whether or not i was aware of it. I don’t need to be aware of more but its misleading to draw conclusions with limited information. I’ll take what my brain gives me and try to stay open. Truth is no longer my job, I don’t need big meaningful answers/conclusions.

For almost 2 years I’ve been wanting to write about cognitive dissonance. I started to see that as I unwound from my emotional investment with different diet bullshit as well as the radical anti-civilization bullshit that there was a quiet little space where I could observe, connect dots, honor what i’m seeing and not compulsively draw conclusions about how my thoughts and feelings “SHOULD” predict my behavior. Let me give you an example. The day I learned about sweatshops I will never forget. I was vegan for 2 years at the point, almost 20 years old and bought a progressive book from whole foods that talked about everything fucked up. It was a super simple book, I want to say it was almost like a photo book with a paragraph on each page. There was a page about sweatshops, human fucking slaves! I mentioned it to my roommate and he was like, “oh yeah, that’s pretty standard”. My emotional reaction to that was OH MY FUCKING GOD!!! I was poor as shit growing up so I already felt like an outsider to buying new clothes, like I’m not privilege enough to go shopping and everyone can tell. you guys know that feeling right? where you don’t feel entitled to shit and think you stick out like a sore thumb. so I went from thinking that I personally don’t deserve to have nice clothes to the compound feeling of buying sweatshop items is grounds for a panic attack. the level of cognitive dissonance involved to feel like i’m going to have a panic attack because i need to buy some bullshit at walmart was off the fucking chart. 2 years ago when I started making peace with having two conflicting beliefs I felt like i was in my skin for the first time in I don’t know how long. I can hate sweatshops AND buy sweatshop items as needed without all of the drama. The stupid thing is that I would spend all that time in the past making a huge ordeal in my head, “give away all of my power” (not to walmart but let my power drain from my body). it’s stupid because minus all of the emotional turmoil the actions are still the same. On some level I felt that my stress and anxiousness about the situation morally meant something. If i buy walmart products with joy in my heart then i was an asshole. if i felt a soul crushing amount of guilt that would elevate the sin and be proof that i really care.

and I see that line of thinking everywhere. I’m going to tell you why something is fucked up/extreme, then you’re going to prove you get it by saying, “oh my god that’s so fucked up/amazing, blah blah blah, my emotional stability is so out the window because this is fucked/blissed out amazing”. Like when someone tells you about their amazing fantastic religion, political party/candidate, their amazing diet or the truth on factory farms. It’s often seems like my emotional reaction is more important that them simply giving me the information and letting me make an unbiased opinion, the facts aren’t enough. Then when you don’t jump through their hoops they act like you must have not gotten it and want to re explain it. (i’m speaking from experience here, i’m way guilty of that too.) And it’s always the folks who are emotionally invested to a particular belief who want to call folks out as being biased and closed minded. Hilarious, takes one to know one, bro!

Two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, traveling on pilgrimage, came to a muddy river crossing. There they saw a lovely young woman dressed in her kimono and finery, obviously not knowing how to cross the river without ruining her clothes. Without further ado, Tanzan graciously picked her up, held her close to him, and carried her across the muddy river, placing her onto the dry ground. Then he and Ekido continued on their way. Hours later they found themselves at a lodging temple. And here Ekido could no longer restrain himself and gushed forth his complaints: “Surely, it is against the rules, what you did back there…. Touching a woman is simply not allowed…. How could you have done that? … And to have such close contact with her! … This is a violation of all monastic protocol…” Thus he went on with his verbiage. Tanzan listened patiently to the accusations. Finally, during a pause, he said, “Look, I set that girl down back at the crossing. Are you still carrying her?”

Logical fallacies, like cognitive dissonance, are tricks our mind plays on us. Logical fallacies are really misleading. Think two pieces of truth sandwiched around some bullshit, it’s hard to decipher. PETA memes are perfect examples of logical fallacies. They tend to be “this fact + that fact = GO VEGAN!”. Let’s bust out an example: PETA meme: “Not eating a pound of meat saves more water than showering for 6 months” then the caption “animals raised for food produce more than 10 times more the poop and pee as humans do much of which ends up in our water. Go Green/Go Vegan”  The first part is a fact *but* only as far as factory farmed animals are concerned. Using vague words like “meat” as a blanket statement takes something that’s true (excessive amounts of water is being used for factory farming) and distributes that truth onto something inaccurate (meat raised in a polyculture or on pasture doesn’t require excesses amount of water AND the “waste” is now a benefit to the system). The logic conveyed is there’s only one way to raise animals for food (which is a huge fallacy) and that veggie is you’re only solution to their made up problem. Another misleading vegan slogan is “meat rots in your gut”. Everything rots in your gut, it’s what your gut does. Or the billboard with the the pig and puppy that says “why love one and eat the other” the fallacy is that you can’t love something you kill. i’ve been to small family farms where the husband, wife or kids play midwife when their cows or pigs are giving birth at 4am. They always aware of the safety of their animals, always protecting, feeding, giving affection and attention around the clock 365 days a year. They definitely love them. Is the point blank issue about love or is about killing? is killing an animal right or wrong? I honestly don’t know. Is the issue black and white? If killing animals is wrong then that would apply to all carnivores? Is it more wrong for a human to eat a deer than lion or a coyote? Could someone explain how you’d even go about figuring that out? PETA never talks about all of the animal death involved in growing vegan food, their one sided memes just seem really misleading.

Our preferences are not wrong. We don’t choice what we’re attracted to and we don’t always need to base our decisions on our preferences either. Life is flexible, break your own rules since they’re arbitrary anyway. Just try to be aware of the conflict of interests that lie within you and don’t snuff parts of yourself out (or shame others into snuffing them self out). This is something I wonder, there’s one school of thought that acts like we’re this eternal being that’s truly formless and can not be touched by this temporary worldly experience. And often that same crowd of people will also say that some disgraceful acts are somehow a blemish on your being.

The Fox and the Grapes is one of the traditional Aesop’s fables and can be held to illustrate the concept of cognitive dissonance. In this view, the premise of the fox that covets inaccessible grapes is taken to stand for a person who attempts to hold incompatible ideas simultaneously. In that case, the disdain the fox expresses for the grapes at the conclusion to the fable serves at least to diminish the dissonance even if the behaviour in fact remains irrational. The moral to the story is “It is easy to despise what you cannot get.”

Sour grapes aka The Fox and the Grapes is a great example of what people do in the health community. you take whatever food you’re not allowed and tell your self how much you don’t miss it and never really liked it. whatever, it’s how you’re coping. i saw my friend last summer who’s doing a low fat diet/lifestyle. she mentioned (and I don’t know if she remembers saying this) “i love french fries but i’m scared of all of the fat”. in that moment i was really rutting for her. i LOVE that she’s doing what the fuck she wants to do. she’d a grown up, she’s trying her best, she has dreams and goals and she wasn’t lying to herself. she deserves a goddamn metal! let’s all be straight up, say how we feel inside even when we have conflict within our self. Let’s not walk around correcting each other, that shit is old and feels dirty as fuck. Self correct and don’t get sucked into your own fallacies. and to save embarrassment down the road don’t try to suck other people into your fallacies.