Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Problem with Rationalization

"Rationalization is a process of not perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions."
- Ayn Rand

So if there's any problem I've been giving some thought for a while now, it would probably have to be my seemingly overdeveloped sense of rationalization.

I've read this post from a blogger a few months back. She argues that many of our problems as individuals and as a society are rooted in our complacency. She argues that many of us are often content with what we have in the most destructive sense, because it is the image that is fed to us by the social norm.

I think the issue lies beyond complacency. I think the issue is that we cannot control our ability to rationalize things. It cannot be denied that rationalization is a natural defense mechanism designed to keep us alive. While it is somehow flawed, it also keeps us from repeating failures which may or may not lead us to harm.

The problem here is two-fold. First, it is an unconscious justification of our actions, and we are simply not used to the idea that a lot of the time, we've already lost the argument before even defending it. Secondly, social influence prevent us from even reaching the state of failure in the first place, which means oftentimes we already have excuses for something we have not yet even tried.

I know I am not alone when I say I have stories where I actually believed I was in the right when presenting an argument, and I only realize my mistake in retrospect. Many others would end up living their lives thinking they're in the right all along, or hold resentment towards others for not viewing their thoughts as factual.

Personally, I know I have a long way to go. It is foolish to ignore rationalization, as it is an integral part of our sense of self-preservation. It is also foolish to rely on it as a crutch for decision-making as most of the time the cons will outweigh the pros.

It's very difficult to balance rationalization and risk-taking. I'm not even entirely sure where to begin taking risks, as this is way beyond my comfort zone. Jumping blind into the proverbial fray simply does not sit well with me, but from what I've seen of others, it's necessary in order for us to get what we want. Hopefully I get answers or even hints as to how, and soon.

I guess some lessons have no teachers, or the teachers often have to be ourselves.

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