We Rationalize (Rational Lies…It’s A “Human Thing”)
As human beings, we make most of our major decisions based on emotion. Yep, you do it; I do it, and so does pretty much everyone else. And, we’re so emotional about it; we don’t even realize it while in the midst of doing it.
But, let’s take this a step further. We then back up our emotional decision with a logical reason or self-explanation for doing what we just did.
This is known as rationalizing. It’s making our emotional decision, “rational” . . . at least to ourselves.
It’s been often said that if we break up the word “rationalize” it becomes ‘rational lies’” which are exactly what we tell ourselves.
Let’s look at a few of these type of decisions you and I may or may not have made. Think back to the last house or car you bought (even the banana split… “easy on the whipped cream” since you’re on a diet), your wristwatch if it costs you anything over $30, the number of children you decided to have, and the good or bad feelings you had based on your last difficult conversation. How about leaving a secure job and using your savings or mortgaging your home in order to start your own business where the risk was greater and the hours longer.
Was any of that based on logic? Or was it mainly emotion? My guess is that it was based on emotion, and backed up with logic.
Note: this is not necessarily a negative thing; it’s simply a Principle of Human Action. What would be negative is a lack of awareness of such. So long as we are aware of the Principle and on top of it, it’s fine, and we can monitor and adjust our actions and decisions accordingly.
Practice exercise: watch every decision of substance you make over the next few days. You’ll most likely find that everything will be based on emotion. It will have something to do with your desire for pleasure – or your avoidance of pain. You and I will both do this, and we’ll back up these emotional decisions with our “make‑sense” logic, or, rational lies.
Do you find this true in your life? Care to share some personal examples? In the next article, I’ll tell a story on myself. Feel free to beat me to the punch and tell us one of yours.