We can always rationalise what we do even if we know that it is bad for us. How can people rationalise smoking, excessive drinking or drugs, overeating when overweight, eating too much junk food, lack of exercise or a laundry list of things deemed bad for our health and well-being? Well, we can and do.
We know what is good or bad and we know what is right or wrong. Why do we not choose what is truly in our best interest for the long haul? Who is in control here? We can have an internal conversation with ourselves over whether we should do something or not and too many times our impulsive nature wins. These impulses can be explained to be hard-wired into our emotional makeup. In order to justify our actions, we become very adept in rationalising. So often our actions are nothing more than stimulus-response if we carefully and truthfully try to explain why we say and do what we do. If you step back and observe your own behavior you might find this to be truer than you would like to believe.
Forget dice rolling or boxes of chocolates as metaphors for life. Think of yourself as a dreaming robot on autopilot, and you’ll be much closer to the truth.
– Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do
Rationalisation is our attempt to explain or justify (one’s own or another’s behaviour or attitude) with logical, plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate. Rationalisation gives us the excuses necessary for being justified and correct in our choices.
The science of the mind can only have for its proper goal the understanding of human nature by every human being, and through its use, brings peace to every human soul.– Alfred Adler, Understanding Human Nature
Our egos are always there to rationalise our actions and critique the incorrectness of others. Our inabilities to recognise this fact keeps us trapped in a world of conflicting values and perceptions. The first step to climbing above the world’s craziness is to learn about our human nature and how we truly work. Only then can we begin to expand our consciousness and make real choices that will lead us on a more intentional and purposeful path. Our rationalizations will then become less satisfactory and less controlling.
Scott Trettenero’s recent book, Master the Mystery of Human Nature: Resolving the Conflict of Opposing Values helps readers learn about themselves, others and how the world works because of our differences. Scott has maintained a solo dental practice in Southwest Florida since 1981. His research on quality service in dentistry and his interest in human temperaments formed the basis for his first book, Unlocking the T-Code. He is married and has two children.