“Rationalization: allowing my mind to find reason to excuse what my spirit knows is wrong.”
BRUCE EAMON BROWN
It is said that rationalization is one of the strongest human drives. We spend quite a bit of energy doing it, and we often get so good at it, it becomes a smoothly operating process entirely done without our awareness.
We rationalize how much money we spend on things we don’t need, new programs we know we won’t finish, workout clothes even if we aren’t going to work out, why we deserve that treat on the way home, why it’s ok to miss an event we signed up for, so on and so forth. We do it so often, we can get into a habit of it that can become almost out of our control- we have an exit plan for anytbing and everything that provides us the slightest bit of discomfort.
It can become such a habituated practice over little things, we can’t expect it to magically disappear over big things. What will we do when faced with hard facts, like something we are doing is causing our children harm, our dog harm, our horse harm? Why would rationalization, our friend in comfort, suddenly leave us for the hard but ethical road forward?
Many comment sections on posts about hard topics are full of a strong desire to show moral superiority – “I would NEVER let anything come before my horse,” or ”I have ALWAYS immediately fired anyone who hurt my horse,” or “I have ALWAYS advocated for my horse first,” but isn’t that, in its own form, a rationalization? The ability to glaze over all of reality to put a more comfortable blanket of how we’d like to see ourselves, as a moral champion, over the truth? The truth that it is hard, that we often become wobbly in the face of a professional of authority, and that our self doubt creeps in, and that we cave?
What would happen if we let the light in, just a little,
On the dark and cobwebbed room of our minds- would we be brave enough to see what rationalization had neatly behind curtains? And just one step at a time practice- noticing it creep up, there to protect you in the short term, while stealing from you in the long term-
Where does it creep up? To soothe you of defensiveness when you’re in the wrong
To soothe you from taking the harder path
To soothe you by providing you your comforts
What would happen if, in the smallest ways, you took the harder path?
Just don’t hit that snooze
Go for your run today
Apologize for being rude to a friend without rationalizing away why it didn’t happen the way she thinks
Just start somewhere, no matter how small
And watch your whole world open up
Then you will have awareness and the strength for the big stuff