How rationalizing causes the habit of giving excuses?

Making excuse.

It is natural for one to love oneself.

In fact, there would be something wrong with one if they did not.

But at times this love of self causes one to err.

It accounts for one’s resorting to shallow but apparently plausible reasons for what they did or want to do.

A modern name for this kind of self-deception is “rationalizing.”

While this term has many technical meanings, its most common meaning is:

to devise superficially rational, or plausible, explanations or excuses (for one’s acts, beliefs, desires, etc.,) usually without being aware that they are not the real motives"

Rationalization and the habit of giving excuses

Animals do not rationalize, for they have neither the capacity for reason nor a conscience whose pricking's cause one to rationalize.

But humans indulge in it, they make excuses for themselves.

How prone human nature is to rationalize can be seen by the plausible excuses that children invent for wanting to do or not to do something.

To their little minds these reasons are sound enough, but not so to mature minds.

Rationalizing may therefore be said to be a sign of immaturity.

A clear-cut example of rationalizing is that furnished by subjects acting out posthypnotic suggestions.

As is well known, a subject may be placed in a deep hypnotic trance and while in it be told that upon coming out of it he will do a certain thing, say, put on his overcoat when he sees the hypnotist rub his nose.

The subject is also assured that he will not remember having received this command, and then he is awakened.

After a while the hypnotist rubs his nose and, sure enough, the subject finds himself distressed and can get no relief until he gets his overcoat and puts it on.

But the room is warm and so there obviously is no reason for his putting on his overcoat.

So he begins to rationalize.

Asked why he did it, he will say that it was because he felt a chill, or he wanted to see how it fit, or he wanted to attract attention-all plausible excuses to him.

All apparently made in good faith, but all rationalizations because he himself is not aware of the real reason, the posthypnotic suggestion.

Rationalizing takes on many forms.

When we cannot get what we want and we use the proverbial excuse, “Sour grapes,” like the fox who could not reach certain grapes (that is, we did not really want it after all), then we are rationalizing.

Or, if we have acted upon impulse we may then try to justify our course by plausible reasons.

A salesman may flatter us, causing us to purchase something that we did not need or could not afford.

When questioned as to why we bought it, we give plausible reasons: it was a bargain, we needed something to bolster our ego, and so forth.

Another form of rationalization that is common involves deeds of chivalry.

A man may flatter himself upon being courteous or chivalrous, but his wife may know that her husband would not have been so attentive had the recipient been a plain old woman!

Rationalization is so prevalent a reaction to situations involving conflict that it cannot be regarded as abnormal.

It is something excused on the ground that it reduces qualms of conscience or misgivings which all of us suffer from time to time.

Some assert that ‘if we did not rationalize, we’d go crazy.’

There is at least a grain of truth in such assertions, but they are themselves largely rationalizations.

However, there is no good substitute for facing life squarely and meeting difficulties realistically.