The Power of Rationalization

We can make ourselves believe anything.

2 + 2 = 5.

There are five lights. (Sorry, only Trekkers will get that one.)

Granted the responses above are the result of extreme circumstances but the concept is still the same. It’s called rationalization, defined by as “a defense mechanism that involves explaining an unacceptable behavior or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behavior.” goes onto say, “We not only rationalize actions and things we have done, we also find reason for our beliefs, models, values and other inner structures and thoughts. These systems are often implied in rationalization statements.”

After a trip and fall the rationalization is, “I meant to do that.”

After we lose a job opportunity we say, “I didn’t want that job anyway.”

Our team loses the big one and it’s, “Those refs cost us the game.”

We feel better when we use those rationalizations, right? Just for a little bit…maybe. Keeps us from getting down on ourselves. Saves face. Or so we think. Laura Freberg wrote, “Recognizing your flaws and your negative behaviors can lead to an overwhelming sense of guilt while challenging self-esteem.” Rationalizations are easy, at first. A little too easy. Here are some of my best…

“One bite isn’t a big deal.”

“I’m just retaining water.”

“I just don’t have the time.”

Don’t have the time, huh? Don’t have the time to do what? The time to be the father my son deserves. The time to be the partner, friend and lover my wife needs me to be. The time to write regularly on this blog. The time to build a business and a legacy.

Challenging Rationalizations

This is how I used to think. This is how I used to rationalize. Then I challenged myself on all my rationalizations. And do you know what I discovered?

I have plenty of time.

I have time to sleep in.

I have  time to watch hours of TV.

I have time to surf the internet until I get bored of it eventually.

Amazing! Gobs and gobs of time. So where was this rationalization coming from? Rejection. I was writing, but no one was seeing it. No one was commenting on it. What was I doing it for? Why should I bother if no one ever reads it?

Bang! That’s the real rationalization…the one under the surface. The root cause. The one I really needed to challenge…

Do I write to be read or do I write because I love the craft?

I was convicted. I was writing to get the affirmation, the recognition, and the validation. Wrong reasons, totally wrong. In order to overcome this rationalization, I needed to write for me and me alone. Jeff Goins was right.

So here I am. Thinking about the time I have and making better decisions. Do I consume or create? Do I take in other peoples’ ideas and impressions of the world or express my own? Now I’m writing for the enjoyment I get from expressing myself. I’m writing to see where the story goes once I start telling it. I’m writing to see the beautiful direction God leads me in when I use the greatest gift he’s given me.  Truth is I have lots of time. Plenty. More than I could possibly use.

There’s nothing wrong with leisure. It’s necessary for proper stress management. The mind needs to switch off every once in a while. But now I make sure I write first, relax second. Writing is my calling. There’s no good reason not to do it as often as I can.

Question: What rationalizations do you use to avoid pursuing your dreams or using your God given talents? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Todd K Marsha is a Catholic husband and father living in suburban Kansas City. Through his writing charism he tells the powerful story of his conversion to the faith, his triumphs through God's grace, and his continuing struggle to live a more Christ-like life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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