How rationalization and justification make us prisoners
If you’re being challenged by a substance or a behavior, and you feel like you need immediate support, we’ve created a special Daily Breath for you called The Last Line of Defense. You can access it at the top of the banner above. With that said, it’s amazing what people who have an affliction or addiction will do to keep on doing what they know they shouldn’t. They point fingers at others who may be at an even more accelerated level in their addiction or affliction, to rationalize how better off they may be. Like when I went to my first meeting. It went something like this.
“I don’t have the problem, Randa does!” I would exclaim. Every time we would fight or have a confrontation, she would drink. Me, I liked smoking pot. That was my way to escape in the 1970’s and 80’s.
I always thought, “Randa was the one with the alcohol problem; I just drank to make things more compatible.” So I rationalized (note: this being a primary trait in what I refer to as a “cross-affliction”). I had my own practice and could manage my indulgences with a minimum of disruption. I half-heartedly admitted that maybe I was being slightly hypocritical as a health professional, but I wasn’t a junky or alcoholic; thus I minimized (minimization being the other trait in cross-over afflicted behaviors of the “functional person”). After all, I wasn’t on the street begging for a hit or in the gutter hiding a bottle in a brown-paper bag. I was a professional! I was respectable and paid my bills!
Cutting to the chase in regard to this account, I agreed to go to my (our) first twelve-step meeting, in hopes of saving what I thought was a good relationship. I walked into the meeting room TERRIFIED! After all, being there would make OTHERS think I had the problem. So I would hide my fear by frowning at Randa every few seconds, so others would know I was just attending—due to her drinking problem. In other words, I WAS THE BENEVOLENT ONE helping my friend. As I sat through the meeting, it became more and more difficult NOT to identify with almost all of the problems these people had regarding their alcoholism.
I was termed as being a “Garbage Head.” This is someone who’ll do a lot of different things to get high. My claim to fame was that I was able to hide it from most people for decades and never sink so low as to be out on the streets, or having to mug people for my next fix. However, there came a point where it was undeniable that every problem I had was directly related to my addictions and my cross-over afflictions.
If you’re honest with yourself, you know that you rationalize and justify to protect your affliction. You want to keep doing (fill in the blank), and you enjoy it so much the pain and destruction is worth it to you. The relationship is not a priority. Your health is not a priority. As you slowly rot away, ever so slightly that you just adjust and go with it, at what point do you realize the rides over because your life and body can no longer take it, and there are no do-overs?
I ask you now to identify with how you may rationalize and minimize certain behaviors? Mind you, this is not a question to get you to admit you’re an addict, but to begin to see how cunning and baffling our minds can be when it comes to everyday people, places and things. Some examples might be:
- Putting off quitting smoking
- Over-exercising to compensate for over-eating
- Chronically rationalizing not having enough time to exercise
- Minimizing how dangerous, aggressive driving can be to yourself and others
- Thinking that unhealthy behaviors don’t affect children if they don’t see them, etc…
Perhaps you’re able to list some other examples of how you or others rationalize and minimize behaviors that are unhealthy. By doing this, you may help someone who didn’t recognize that they themselves were acting in such a way; in turn helping them to be healthier and possibly to live longer. Maybe, that someone you help might be YOU.
So Breathe It!