On a few different occasions, I have presented and led discussions around a variety of topics related to the cognitive aspects of developing a healthy lifestyle. These topics were wide ranging and included things such as confidence; stress; setting boundaries; and the importance of planning. The topics were geared toward thoughts and language and the impact these have on nutrition and exercise habits.
Included in these discussions was the topic of “excuses and rationalizations” and I always shared an insight I once learned and that is,
“To rationalize means to tell yourself rational lies.”
One time, in a follow-up meeting, a group member commented, “I’m not sure whether to thank you for telling us that or to hate it.” The group laughed a knowing laugh. They understood her meaning.
Everyone agreed that the phrase “rational lies” helped them to recognize when they were using excuses and rationalizations. At that point of recognition, they were able to shift to a different and healthier choice. For that reason, they were happy to learn this new meaning for the word rationalize.
At the same time, recognizing their rationalizations for what they were prevented them from being able to use them as they had done in the past. Learning the phrase “rational lies” became an inner coach calling them out when they tried to rationalize poor food choices or forgoing their exercise. They could no longer lull themselves into complacency by justifying their unhealthy choices. They were now much more keenly aware that they were justifying; excusing; rationalizing; they were more keenly aware that they were doing nothing more than lying to themselves. This new awareness made it much harder to accept their habit of rationalizing and making excuses.
In last week’s message, I said,
“When you live your life with an acute awareness that you’re not where you want to be, you are indeed experiencing discomfort. You attempt to relieve the tension through excuses and rationalizations and it works for a short while.”
One purpose that excuses and rationalizations serve is indeed to relieve the discomfort of standing where you are but looking at where you want to go. The excuses help you feel a little better but only for a while. In order to push your way through the phase of discomfort, you must learn to manage your excuses and rationalizations. You must learn to listen to a different inner voice – one that propels you forward rather than the one that is holding you back.
“Now I can’t rationalize like I used to because I’m more aware of what I’m doing” ~ A Group Member
Yes, that was my intention.
I love it when a plan comes together.
Fueling Your Inner Fire with ACTION:
Take note when your inner chatter reflects messages of excuses and rationalizations and allow your inner coach to call you out on it. When it does, pause and ask yourself, “What result do I truly want?” and “Will this action get me there?”
When you’re on a self-sabotaging path, choose to shift your direction so you can bring your own plan together.