The purpose of this post is not to bully anyone or make anyone feel inferior, but rather to raise everyone's awareness about a cognitive process that takes place on a daily basis, almost in a routine manner for most of the population.
Self-Rationalization (SR) refers to the psychological defense mechanism that plays, formost, a subconscious role in the decision making process. SR is the process by which perceived controversial behaviors or decisions are locally justified and explained in a logical manner in order to avoid recognizing a true explanation that might might be unacceptable to the individual or their peers. It is a powerful defense mechanism and one I see employed all to frequently in the training profession from my own clients. Check the video below for some examples of self-rationalizing talk and a few good laughs especially if you yourself our a trainer.
Okay ladies I am not trying to pick on you because I hear just as many self-rationalizations from men (maybe more), but since most of my clientele is women I felt the video was proper visual example to share. All joking aside though this is an actual defense mechanism people employ without being cognitively aware of it. I even had the pleasure just this past tuesday during a conversation with an overweight client that provided an excellent example of what self-rationalization looks like and how it is a serious detriment to those who want to achieve their potential.

Me: So . . . How is your diet coming along? Are you logging and following your doctors guidelines?
Before I share my dysfunctional conversation with you let me give you a little background on this particular client. By sharing this information I want to show you how far and how deep of a hole self-rationalization can dig you into and how important it is that you are cognitively aware of this defense mechanism so you your self won't fall victim to it. This particular client I have been training for about 8 months. He/She is currently close to 200 plus pounds overweight and deals with joint pain on a regular basis, which means weight-loss, rapid weight-loss, is imperative for his/her health. He/She is over 40 years of age which means his/her time to get healthy is now not 10 years from now. We work together twice a week for 30 mins each session, this means she/he spends a little over an hour with me every week which is just over 0.5% of her week. I have made her/him aware of this small time we spend together and have implored her/him to come in on her own as often as possible to increase her/his calorie deficit. She/He has recently suffered some small heart trouble and was diagnosed with Cardiomegaly or an enlarged heart. Her/His doctor specifically told her/him she/he needed to lose weight even going as far as prescribing specific dietary guidelines to follow. In spite of all these recent health issues her weight continues to remain stagnant on a regular basis, even gaining weight on occasion.

I know she/he isn't doing everything she/he can be to improve her/his health and I attempt to call her/him on this quite frequently, but sorry to say she/he is a SELF-RATIONALIZER!!! She/he has a reason for why she/he isn't eating properly, not getting to the gym more frequently, and not following through on her/his weight loss. I hear this self-rationalization nonsense on a regular basis. For example below is are conversation from this past tuesday evenings session:

Me: So . . . How is your diet coming along? Are you logging and following your doctors guidelines?
Client: Um . . . . it's okay (for those of you who aren't trainers this is client code for "my diet sucks").

Me: Really (I already know she is lying but I wanna catch her in it)! So then were the scales down this evening at the weight-in (she is a weight watcher, which I hate, but some accountability is better than none)?

Client: Well . . . not exactly it was kind of high tonight . . .

Me: But I thought your diet was going well. How could you gain weight?

Client: I don't konw I thought I was doing well (self-rationalization, you either know you are or you don't). I think it had to do with me and Blah (her boyfriend) eating Charlie's Chicken last night.

Me: WHATTTTT (sound of me punching myself in the face)!!!!!!!!!!! I don't think Charlie's Chicken is part of your doctor's guidelines. Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, and rolls are not okay for you.

Client: I know! I know! I know!

Me: (then why they heck did you eat it)

Client: Me and blah picked it up after work and took it to his daughter's house to have dinner together. I mean what am I to do thats what they wanted (self-rationalization). But I only ate a little mash potatoes (self-rationalization) and I only had one and a half rolls (self-rationalization). I also hate to eat anything high in sodium before I weigh-in that might be why I weighed so high tonight (self-rationalization).

Me: . . . . . . (very sarcastically) yeah that probably was it all the sodium . . . . . (WTF)

Let me first say that I love this client to death and would bend over backwards to help her in anyway shape or form, but I am tired of hearing this kind of rationalization by her. I mean really what could you do about it . . . um I don't know how about not fucking eating it. Really you honestly think sodium from the evening before is the reason why your weight is high. You don't think it is because of the all sugar and fat that the previous evenings meal contained and all the poor food choices you make week after week after week. If I had to put my money on it I would bet that this is a reoccurring event throughout your week and you are perfectly happy with it because you rationalize it in your head because other wise it would be unacceptable to both you and your friends that your eating this way.

It is frustrating to hear and even more frustrating that I cannot get her/him to understand that she/he is the true reason why she/he is holding herself/himself back. Constant self-rationalization is a poisonous thing. It is a cancer the more you do it the stronger a defense mechanism it becomes and before you know it you have put yourself in a terrible situation because you were not willing to accept the fact that you are at fault for your failure and problems. I am sorry if this offends someone you, but I believe at some point you have to start accepting responsibility for yourself and your actions because no one else is going to do it for you. You cannot play the role of the object your whole life which is acted upon at some point you have to choose to be the force in the world and act upon it. Excuses and rationalizations are made by many, but self-discipline and commitment are held by few. I in no way intend to offend those who feel like they have had this conversation before whether it be with your trainer or a friend I simply want to open everyone's eyes to this very dangerous defense mechanism that can bring down the most motivated of individuals. 
I mean I get it life happens sometimes and things don't go your way, but don't just sit back and be acted upon, be the force in the universe force life to yield your will. If you don't want to eat something don't eat it. If you want to go to the gym even though you got held up at the office and won't get home till late do it. Don't allow yourself to rationalize your failures. You have to accept your actions and not be subject to the common trend to blame failures on your environment rather you must accept responsibility for failing and derive ways to overcome and avoid similar situations in the future.

The whole take home message in all this is do not allow yourself to constantly defend your decisions by rationalizing them in a logical manner. I think it is sometimes good for you to accept that perhaps the decision you made was because you wanted to make it not because it was the smarter decision or it was the more convient solution. Be cognitively aware that you will try to self-rationalize your decisions especially ones that do not align with your current goals. Take these rationalizations and shove them aside. Decide that you will decide when you both succeed and fail. Decide that you will design and implement strategies to insure you succeed more than you fail. If you are going to take credit for success then you need to be willing to accept credit for your failures. 



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