Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Truth About Rationalization

In my last post I spoke about rationalization, which prompted me to speak a bit more on that subject, and to share one of my favorite movie quotes here shortly.

Wikipedia says:

Rationalization in psychology is the process of constructing a logical justification for a decision that was originally arrived at through a different mental process.

Somewhere in my own internal emotional work, I examined what I came to recognize as my ability to hide the truth from myself and so became aware of my tendency to rationalize. As I looked more closely at rationalization in general, I came to see just how much of it I did and how it is that doing it kept me from being honest with myself.

Certainly rationalization is a natural part of the human thought process. Sometimes it is good, sometimes bad. It can be good to the extent that it is grounded in truth. It is bad when it is not and is basically what we also more crudely call bullshitting ourselves.

So here's the movie quote. In the 1983 movie "The Big Chill", Jeff Goldblum's character, Michael, is having a conversation with his good friend, Sam, played by Tom Beringer.

Michael: I don't know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They're more important than sex.

Sam: Ah, come on. Nothing's more important than sex.

Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

So true. That line still cracks me up.

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