I’ll just put this here and put it away later.
I’ll just sleep in this morning and go to the gym tomorrow morning.
I’ll just have one handful of M&M’s.
I’ll just fold the laundry tomorrow.
Rationalizing. We all do it. It’s a coping mechanism when we’re overwhelmed. It’s a lazy response when we don’t want to put out the effort we need to. It’s an emotional response we back up with logic. Most importantly, it’s a lie that holds us hostage and keeps us from reaching our goals.
If we break up the word rationalize, it becomes “rational lies” which are exactly what we tell ourselves in a moment of decision. Rationalizing keeps us stuck where we are.
Got clutter? It’s a result of the lie that says, “I’ll put it away later.”
Can’t stay on a healthy eating plan? It’s because we lie to ourselves that “one cookie won’t matter.”
Can’t make it to the gym? That’s because of the lie that says, “I’ll do that tomorrow.”
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? If you did and you’re not doing so well with it, it’s probably because you’ve rationalized each time you’ve come face to face with the decision to do the thing you said you wanted to do.
I’m personally acquainted with these lies because I’ve used them myself. In fact, I’m a reformed messy. When I decided that my messiness bothered me and I really wanted to live differently, I didn’t have to start new habits. Instead, I had to come face to face with my thought processes. That’s where I discovered how often I was lying to myself!
Want to stop telling yourself “rational lies?” Here are three steps I’ve found helpful:
- Watch out for those two little words, “I’ll just…”. You might say them aloud or you might say them in your head. Regardless of how you say them, start paying attention to their existence in your vocabulary. When you hear them, allow an alarm to go off in your head.
- Don’t believe the lie. Instead of telling yourself “I’ll just put this away later,” simply take the 10 extra steps to put it away now. Instead of saying, “I’ll just sleep in in this morning,” push through your sleepy fog and get out of bed.
- Smile at your accomplishment. Give yourself an “atta girl” or atta boy” moment of encouragement knowing that you pushed through the lie and did what you needed to do.
Each time you identify a “rational lie,” push through it, and do what you need to do, you’ll be on your way to living the life you want to live!
What about you? Can you identify when you rationalize and how doing so keeps you from reaching your goals?