9-26-21 Rationalization


To explain or justify (one’s behavior) with incorrect reasons or excuses, perhaps without conscious awareness. To dismiss or minimize the significance of something by means of an explanation or excuse. Rationalization is a defense mechanism that involves explaining an unacceptable behavior or feeling in a rational or logical manner, while avoiding the true reasons for the behavior. Putting lipstick on a pig. No offense to pigs intended.

“There are cases where our ancient enemy, rationalization, has stepped in and has justified       conduct which was really wrong. Learning daily to spot, admit, and correct these flaws is the  essence of character building and good living.” —12 Steps and 12 Traditions

With our primary addiction, we needed to take direct action, supported by others who had been through that experience, and we began to find a stronger sense of self that can make good decisions. We recognized the false justifications that led us to be dependent on a substance or behavior. We began to see more clearly what we were doing and the effect it had on us and others. We confronted what behaviors were responsible. We re-adjusted our thoughts and actions, our view of the world, and of ourselves in a healthy, positive way. 

When we quit rationalizing that we should have things our way it was an eye-opener. Look, there are other people in the world who are just like me, and wonderfully different also!  We began to compromise and cooperate. That is to say, we compromised the need to have things OUR way; we never want to compromise our values.

We went from realizing what selfish idiots we had been, to beginning to trust and care for ourselves, and eventually to helping others when we were healthy enough to do so. We hear wisdom and recognize it. We accumulate and try out new behaviors and ways of thinking and acting. We replace our harmful behaviors with honesty, courage and kindness. 

We begin to see the value in cooperating and recognizing the validity of others and their ways and needs—which may be different from ours.  Most of us do not demand others worship or have the same spiritual path we have. We engage in small, socially-conscious acts while driving, being in line at the grocery store, or associating with friends or family. We also sometimes begin to get antsy or upset when the line is too long or the traffic is too heavy, or the family is too wacky. This awareness that “Things are not going the way I want them to” is vital to have. We can then recognize the futility of being upset with the reality of a situation, and laugh at ourselves.    

A sense of humor about ourselves is important to have when we are railing against truth, reality and things we have no control over. This is when we chuckle at ourselves a little, relax, and appreciate what a good life we really have, instead of allowing selfishness to roll us around in the “poor me” muck.  

Even so, we often still suffer from shortcomings that cause us to rationalize and hide from the truth and our real selves. We can find one antidote for this tendency in the Big Book of AA, paraphrased here: “On awakening…we consider our plans. May our thinking be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Our thought life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives. During the day…we may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask for inspiration, an intuitive thought or decision. It is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times.” We must be diligent, and see the benefit in taking a moment to reset our thinking so we come from a place of seeing and knowing the larger picture. This takes time, a consistent awareness, and a recognition of the joy that our disciplines bring.

When I am about to act on something, my mind may begin to rationalize my action so that I will not create waves with anyone. I can begin projecting what I THINK others will think of me and modify my actions accordingly. Or I may have a good rationale ready to defend myself, so I will appear more appealing or acceptable to others. My goodness, what a messy jungle. I may need instead to re-examine my motives, and move forward with the courage to do what I believe is right. Most of my fears about how I appear to others are only fabrications of my insecurity. I realize that when I am acting to mollify others, I deny myself the responsibility for my actions and my life. Right action needs no rationale or explanation. 

There may be confrontation, challenges and a fear of the unknown in any relationship. We need to be careful to not discard relationships before we’re sure we’ve done what we can to better them. Don’t abandon something out of hand because it’s challenging. Challenges, well and honestly taken on, are where our growth occurs. And if a relationship or an association with certain others or places is harmful or negative, we need to accept the challenge of honestly facing the need to  make a change. We need to feel our anxiety so we can begin to see it and work with it, or it will continue to be a problem that causes us to act out of fear, or to justify harmful behavior. 

Who you really are is a strong, kind, intelligent, independent and connected person who has a gentle sense of self-worth and dignity. Whenever you deny these innate traits by wallowing in false projections of yourself, playing games with the truth, living in fear, or justifying your      behaviors, you feel and know that you are not being genuine. 

Do you keep waiting for the good stuff to begin? The good stuff is right here, right now. You need to step into it with honesty, courage and an open heart. It takes time to begin living with an honest, kind and brave mentality. We have some large (and some small) behaviors we need to be aware of, and to replace with an open heart. The difficult times will still happen, the wonderful times will still happen. You are fully present for all of life. No more excuses needed.

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for
May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.

Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com