July 9, 2024

The Fatal Flaw

When we rationalize our behavior we only hurt ourselves. Sometimes we have to make the hard choices, even when we don't want to. Life doesn't give away free passes.

I write and speak a great deal about values and value systems. Remaining in good fellowship with your values is a vital part of a healthy and fruitful life journey. Moreover, seeking out and connecting with others who share your values results in deeper and more productive relationships.

Most of us can think of a person in their life whose behavior or values systems created an aura of discomfort. We experience a critical sense of angst in their presence. We might even comment to a friend, “I can’t believe they think that’s ok.”

We know that remaining in community with such folks is a recipe for disaster that makes everyday tasks uncomfortable and often leads to failure. The most effective course is to remove these influences from our lives.

The Risk: Rationalization

There is a much more dangerous risk - rationalization.

Rationalization is so rampant in many people’s lives that we often have a hard time understanding it. It can be as simple as eating a second cookie when we know we shouldn’t.

While our cookie example appears rather mundane, and likely not life changing, the compulsion that leads us to take that action is the same that might have us conduct ourselves in ways that are inconsistent with our core values. It might be convincing oneself that it is ok to take advantage of another person because they are of poor moral character. It might have us choose a path that we know is not optimal, or morally right.

Rationalization is nothing more than a lie we tell ourselves that gives us the permission to engage in conduct that is inconsistent with who we are. Since we only have ourselves to keep this behavior in check, it can be hard to control.  

At times, our rationalization manifests into behaviors that ruin relationships. Regularly, when challenged, we make excuses for our lapses in judgement. Often times these lapses in judgment lead to tarnished relationships with those who are most important to us.

We Only Hurt Ourselves When We Aren't Truthful With Ourselves

The tragedy is that we are only hurting ourselves. These rationalizations become synonymous with our personality and we are left as hollow souls yearning for purpose.

We might tell ourselves, “I just need to get through this problem and things will be better.”

At one of the companies I led, we came up with the tag line “Every Day You Get Our Best.” When addressing team members, I would always add, "and you and God are the only ones who know If you did (your best)."

Are you giving your best every day? Are you being honest with yourself?

Are You Rationalizing Your Behaviors?

Take a moment today and reflect on a time when you rationalized your behavior.

How did that impact your life?

How did it impact the lives of your family, colleagues, or friends?

More importantly, what damage might it do to your future endeavors or relationships?

How many times have had to worry about some of your past choices?

You make the choice. You make the change.

The great news is that you alone have the ability to change this behavior, and in doing so, find more fulfillment in your life.

Start today.

Make a commitment to yourself that you are going to make a good faith effort to avoid rationalization and in doing so release yourself from the anxiety that is codependent on this fatal flaw.

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