Rationalization: Everything You Need to Know

Rationalization is the act of justifying one’s unacceptable behaviors and actions to make them seem good when they actually aren’t. It is usually making up reasons for everything that goes wrong in one’s life. Moreover, Rationalization is a defense mechanism that people use to avoid embarrassment and guilt.

Why do people rationalize?

People unconsciously rationalize their actions to protect their ego from distress. People rationalize so that they feel better about themselves and also to protect themselves from experiencing negative feelings like embarrassment, guilt, and anger. These feelings are a result of their or others’ bad behaviors or wrong decisions.

People who rationalize somehow come up with reasons that have nothing to do with what really happened. They conceal their true motivations by providing incorrect explanations. People do so to prove to themselves or others that they did nothing wrong and to avoid criticism.

Rationalization can be one for one’s self or others. People rationalize others’ behaviors as well for the same reason mentioned above. For example, a student justifies poor grades by saying that the instructor is not good instead of saying the real reason is lack of preparation.

There are many examples of rationalism but here are some of the most common ones. People justify their actions by saying:

  1. I failed the test because the teacher is not good
  2. I stole because someone made me do it.
  3. I didn’t want to go to that college anyway because it was too far.
  4. I didn’t get the job. I didn’t want it anyways.
  5. Thankfully I got divorced. My ex is the main reason.
  6. I could’ve won the race but my shoes were not comfortable.

How can people stop rationalizing?

It starts with being honest with yourself and others. It is totally fine and acceptable to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and do not repeat them. After grasping this idea, admitting mistakes won’t be so hard to do. It actually makes you look strong and confident. So next time instead of saying “I got poor grades because the teacher is not good,” say “Honestly, I got poor grades because I did not study well for the text.” People respect honesty and honest people.

It may be hard at first but don’t worry you’ll receive good answers every time you tell the truth instead of concealing it. You may even find people who agree with you because they are in the same situation. Practice makes perfect, and one day you will be able to do it.

How can you tell if someone is rationalizing?

When someone is making excuses and justifying unacceptable behaviors, that’s when you know he is rationalizing. Moreover, when someone tells a vague and unrealistic reason for his behaviors or someone else’s behaviors, he is rationalizing.

Can rationalization affect relationships?

Rationalizing bad behaviors can negatively affect your platonic and romantic relationships. If someone justifies hitting his partner because she does not do what he wants, for example, this makes him an abuser. A person who rationalizes hurting people mentally or physically will be considered toxic and his actions will drive people away.

So yes, rationalizing can damage your relationships with others and make it harder for you to make new ones.

Try at all costs to avoid rationalism and be yourself. Try to tell the truth. Because maybe telling the truth helps you face your problems instead of running away from them by making false statements.

Can rationalization affect financial decisions?

Rationalization can affect your financial decisions. You may buy something that you know you cannot afford and justify this action by saying that you deserve it and you haven’t bought something luxurious in a very long time. It is okay to treat yourself every once in a while, but overspending your money will definitely affect your quality of living in the future.

To sum up, rationalization is something we all do or might have done several times in our lives. Sometimes people do not realize that they are rationalizing because they do it unconsciously to prevent themselves from feeling guilty. Luckily, once you realize that you are doing it, you may be able to stop. All you have to do is think about your actions and decisions beforehand and try to always tell the truth.

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