Doesn’t it seem that we can somehow justify anything to ourselves? It’s a psychological mechanism to keep us feeling in the right about whatever it is we are up to. Scott Michael said, “People don’t make logical decisions. People make emotional decisions, then they use logic to justify them.”
Have a peek into the psyche that allows us to be comfortable where we are and not breakthrough our limiting behaviors… Examine the following nine strategies that we might use to justify anything. Let’s become more conscious of what we are already doing – and then, perhaps, consciously choose not to do it anymore.
It is so much easier to justify something when we begin with the context that we are rightly permitted to justify it. It’s possible to find valid points to justify just about any argument, so when we look for points that will justify our argument, we will find them.
A popular mainstream example of this extreme dichotomy is the pro-choice versus pro-life platforms on abortion (both sides know that they are right). Real growth comes from authentically considering questions that we already know the answers to and already have a conviction about.
2. Point to Supporting Experiences
Social proof is by far the most convincing of justification, even though (ironically) it has the least relevance to deductive reasoning. But if a friend, a co-worker, a celebrity, or even a stranger has done something, then we feel justified in doing the same thing. Monkey see, monkey do.
This also happens on a collective level where we may say to ourselves, “well everybody does that”, or “that’s the way it’s always been”. Power in the present comes not just from reflection, but also from projection—to be able to see our conscious choice have a ripple affect into the future.
3. Negate The Opposite
What is it that you’re trying to justify? Think of all the horrible ills that may occur if you don’t justify it. What will go wrong? How will it make things worse?
Here’s an example: If we don’t want to exercise and justify it, we may think about how we will hurt ourselves and cause more injury by exercising. Us humans do more to avoid pain than we do to gain pleasure.
Nothing is ever true always or never. And so when we look for the exception to the rule, we will find that too. Exceptions are even more dangerous than generalizations, because they are the exact opposite of what truly is.
Some people don’t want to become financially free because they see some individuals who have become too greedy. But that exception to the rule is not accurate and is not empowering. Even when we find “lots” of exceptions, we must realize the actual percentage is still miniscule.
This is a big new-age one. We see nothing that will justify our decision, except to say that it’s just a feeling, hunch, or something else unexplainable. While that may be true in some instances, this strategy is one that can be easily abused.
Is there really “something” telling you NOT to make that sales call? A quick way to measure the authenticity of our inner guidance system is to look at what the assertion is: if we are to do something, then that is good and expansive; if we are not to do something, then that is limiting.
6. Avoid Discussing Ramifications
Without consequences to our actions, we would all probably be living different lives. All actions have outcomes, whether desired or undesired. Not discussing potential possibilities is using avoidance to mask concern.
Sometimes it can be better to “cross that bridge” when we come to it, but not necessarily when it has to do with relationships. Time may not heal all wounds, so it is often prudent to discuss long-term goals in intimate relationships and be on the same page together.
Will it even matter? What’s the point anyway? Can one person actually make a difference? These are the justifications that come up when we strive to create something bigger than ourselves.
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little”, said philosopher Edmund Burke. Not following any spiritual practice because we don’t know which one is the “right truth” is also a path to justification through indifference.
This is an antagonistic strategy because it asserts false accusations to justify a position. What won’t people do to feel that they are right in the matter? They will lie, cheat, and blame others to justify their position. They will even lie to themselves.
What’s the point of eating healthy when all the big companies are just going to trick us into eating more unhealthy food? There may be some truth in some theories, but that type of justification rarely helps us move forward in life.
When all else fails, we usually have some magic seeds in our pocket that can justify anything to us. This is what we’ve learned to use over our lifetime, and we use it regularly. It’s different for everybody, and it does work like magic for so many people because so many of us are unconscious of it.
Is it the race card for you? Maybe your justification is the lack of parenting you received growing up? Disability, sexual orientation, poverty, lack of education—we can use just about anything for our “global life justification”.
This isn’t a complete list of strategies, but a selection to help us become more aware of our own psychological behaviors. Ultimately, we want to live a life not full of justifications, but a life of accountability and responsibility. Understanding how we justify things to ourselves, can have us shift our habits and transcend this bondage.
Let’s love the world together…
Danish Ahmed, blind visionary
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