It is funny how we are never in a mood to do the difficult things. How many of you are ever in a mood to go outdoors and get your body moving?
I don’t see many hands.
Or how many of you are willing to replace a rich dessert with something healthy like yogurt?
I don’t see many hands this time either.
I am not a superhuman either. Just like everybody else, I don’t feel motivated every day. I laze around sometimes, enjoy fried snacks, and sleep more than necessary…guilty pleasures!
You know that feeling you get sometimes, when you just don’t feel like it. Yup.. happens to all of us. We come up with weird reasons or logic to convince ourself that ‘Just this time, won’t do it again.’
Though missing one day or giving into a guilty pleasure is not a punishable offence but making it a habit should be.
There is a word for what we all do, happily and without any guilt? It is irrational rationality (IR).
Well, I just made that up. Actually, it is Rationalization.
Rationalization can be thought of as a process of how we come up with rational explanations for a particular behavior AFTER employing that behavior.
This is how it pans out:
Decision -> Resulting Behavior -> Subjective Analysis -> Coming up with excuses for the behavior
But this is how it should be:
Objective analysis of data -> Decision -> Resulting Behavior
The analysis should be done BEFORE deciding and doing anything.
In simple words, rationalization is essentially the act of making excuses.
Why We Do This
Nothing is closer to the truth than the fact that we all are good at lying to ourselves. We lean towards ineffective behaviors essentially due to negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, and insecurity. These emotions, push us in the wrong direction, where things can only go downhill. And usually we give into them.
Ever caught yourself saying ‘I am too tired to do it now?’
If you have, then you would also realize that you always have energy to do things you think are essential, things you can’t do without. So, the matter here is of prioritization. If you think something has to be done, prioritize it. If you are tired, don’t do too much…just a little.
We subconciously try to create consistency between what we do and what we think is right. So after we have taken a bad action course, we rationalize it in order to create this consistency. This helps us feel better because we believe we did the right thing. But it is all in our head; there is nobody to challenge what we have already decided is right.
How to Fix It
It is in our psychology, inbuilt and thriving – the need to rationalize. It cannot be eradicated completely but it can be reduced significantly.
But to change something that is strongly embedded within us, we need to be prepared to overcome resistance and not give up when the fear hits us.
We need to commit to our growth and understand that intentional practice, every day can help us get better and improve. Shortcuts won’t work.
So how do we go about it? It requires training our mind and body. Let’s see what we need to do.
- Step one is setting up a practice time. Reserve this time to do what has been on your must-do list for long. Getting healthy or pursuing a hobby, commit to doing it everyday at a particular time.
- Do a small chunk of it. Try it for 10 to 20 minutes. If it is hard for you, the resistance will be more. So don’t make it difficult at first. You don’t want to get discouraged right at the start.
- You will be amazed at how imaginative rationalizations we tell to ourselves when the time comes to practice. But we need to notice, and not judge. See what comforts we turn to, what we complain about.
- Be with the fear and resistance. Don’t run, feel it for a moment. Once you know what is stopping you, it is easier to tackle it.
- See if a counterargument works. If you catch yourself saying ‘It doesn’t really matter if I skip it this time’ treat it as breaking your word to yourself. You know that rationalizations always end up hurting you. Don’t ignore the evidence.
- Treat yourself with love. It is an antidote to negative self-talk that we so often indulge in. And it is not just about love for ourselves but for others too. Don’t forget that love is one of the most powerful emotions and has the power to change what we often think impossible. Let it change you.
- The first step is the hardest because we can’t seem to get out of this shell we have created around us over the years. So try to get started anyhow.
- Follow it up with a little bit more. The next day should see some improvement. But even if you don’t manage to get anything extra done, the same amount counts too.
We all have fears and insecurities. The important thing is to accept that they sometimes shape our behavior. And once you recognize this, you can build your confidence instead of finding comfort in rationalization. You can do more and achieve more.