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Centerpointe Research

How We Fool Ourselves

Denial and rationalization are two ways we think we fool ourselves into thinking we don’t have a problem when we do.  Of course, it is not just you, yourself, who does this, other people do it too; but you have more control over it when you work on changing yourself instead of other people.  Also hopefully you will be less defensive about being confronted with what you do than somebody else will be if you do it to them.

When you deny something, you pretend, and sometimes believe, that it doesn’t exist.  It is well known for being one of the stages of the process of grief.  If something doesn’t exist, you don’t have to deal with it; but that doesn’t solve the problem which still exists and which may get worse if you don’t recognize it and do something about it.  College students who concentrate on partying often find this out at the end of the semester when they fail their classes and have to leave school because of their grades.

Rationalization seems to be a more sophisticated form of defense mechanism.  With rationalization, you admit that you have done something but for a good reason.  You were justified in doing what you did.  It is often used by passive aggressive people to justify their behaviors that are hurtful to others.  For example, they say, “But I was only doing this to help you,” when at some level they know it was something that you feel didn’t help at all.  Many times people feel broadsided by this type of behavior.  We often learn this early because it gets us out of being held accountable for some behaviors until somebody catches on to what we are doing.

The clear wings make this South-American butte...

The clear wings make this South-American butterfly hard to see in flight, a succesfull defense mechanism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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