Rationalization is perhaps the most common and the easiest way to get our egos off the hook. Rationalization is a purely mental operation which helps us avoid looking at our deeper feelings and motives for doing and saying and feeling the way we do. Rationalization is our prime mechanism of selfjustification.
The young girl waiting anxiously for her boyfriend for their date. He does not show and she rationalizes away her feelings with, “I did not want to go anyway.” Rationalizations reflect deeply on our inner psychology and is our primary weapon of choice for anxiety removal. When anything threatens our normal internal stasis we pull out our anxiety busters. We have a full set of tools but this is the first one we go for.
Deep inside we need to find some reason for our actions and non actions. The purpose of this reason or rationalization is to justify our selves in our own and in others eyes. Rationalizations are basically attempts to feel better or look better. A rationalization represents a simple mental complex that we hope will make us feel better if we believe it. We hope others will believe them also.
We use this and other defense mechanisms as ways of establishing and maintaining our dignity. They are pretenses in the never ending game of superiority and inferiority. In the case of rationalizations we are interested in what appears and feels right and what feels wrong. The wrong almost always feels bad and we seek to avoid this feeling. So the man who is rejected when asking a pretty girl for a date goes around telling everyone that she really isn’t that great after all. We use the rationalization as a defense against that ‘wrong’ feeling of rejection which are threatening us with the internal perception that there is something ‘wrong’ with us.
When it comes to our motives and our feelings there often seems that there are two reasons for everything that we do, the alleged good reason and the real reason. One of the highest and most pure uses of the intellect is its use as an instrument of truth. It has the ability to probe and see inconsistencies. It is the instrument, when used by the heart, which is able to sift the pure from the pure, the truth from the untruth.
Rationalizations are the use of the intelligence of the intellect to deny the truth. Rationalization is the most accepted mental defense mechanism and we can always come up with reasons for not loving, for not giving, for not serving or sharing or changing anything in our lives and in our world.
The father who beats his child justifies it unconsciously by convincing himself that it is for the child’s own good. The Church for thousands of years rationalized the persecution of Jews, after all they killed Jesus. Rationalizations cover the real feelings of the heart. It is so much easier to cover up our real feelings of hurt and pain or our total insecurities with our minds rationalizations. It is scary for most people to probe the deeper feelings of fear or self-doubt as to our worthiness and value in life. Our egos would rather rationalize every feeling then confronting the cause of them. The mind will always rationalize anything that it does not want to look at.
The heart is at a disadvantage in dealing with the mind because the mind and its thoughts seem to work so much faster than our feeling nature. We see this easily when we look at how our communications with others are shallow when we share rationalizations. Rationalizations always lack the depth of feelings that a simple but deep “I” statement conveys.
A good rationalization for drinking beer might be “I drink beer because it has malt in it.” The real reason is that I like it and I really like it because it helps me feel less inhibited and more secure when I am around others in social situations. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel more secure and it is normal to feel self conscious in social situations. Sharing those feelings conveys and honesty and a vulnerability that opens the door to real heart to heart relationships.