The Dangerous Road of Rationalization
We humans love to rationalize, and we do it constantly.
I’ll just have one more piece.
I should stop watching… but Netflix already started playing the next episode.
Or the timeless classic:
You only live once!
The problem is these are all just ways of coping. These are little lies we tell ourselves so we can justify doing things we know we shouldn’t. Rationalization can be a harmless walk by the fridge at midnight to get leftover cake before anyone else or it can be our way of cheating ourselves out of progression and reaching our goals.
But there is another side to this coin.
What about being rational? What about making well-informed, educated decisions based off of life experience and logic?
There is actually a big difference between making rational decisions and rationalizing. In the context of porn addiction, it is crucial that we stop rationalizing and start choosing real recovery.
As an addict, you probably often feel like two people: the driven Fortifier, dedicated to self-improvement and healing, or the self-gratifying narcissist only concerned with avoiding pain and catching the next high. It’s an old story, one that is very similar to the famous story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
We all have a Jekyll and a Hyde so to speak, the trick is knowing who is in charge and which one to listen to.
Recognizing the Beast
In the many retellings of the classic story, Mr. Hyde is a monstrous, hulking terror. Fortunately, you won’t grow ten feet or sprout claws every time you have an urge to act out. But it isn’t always easy to identify which internal voice is talking.
Our “Mr. Hyde” uses a lot of different tricks to try to convince us to give in and watch porn. These include minimizing, justifying, comparing, and other harmful mind tricks we play on ourselves. However persuasive we may be to our inner selves, these things only do one thing: keep us trapped in our addiction. In order to see through all of the tricks we need to be completely honest. Just because your addiction makes you feel like two people, doesn’t mean you can’t choose who to be.
Reading Warning Signs
There may be times when a tough situation sneaks up on you. You’re innocently browsing social media and an account you follow has reposted something that triggers you. Or there is a billboard at the mall that really distracts you. Surviving these times calls for the STAR Method. You need to take a step back and think about what you really want.
The problem with rationalizing is that it usually starts a while before the actual act of using. A lot of Fortifiers have goals and rules about when and where they use their electronic devices. For example, most do not bring computers, laptops or tablets into their bedrooms. But this situation can be easily rationalized and put you in danger. Example:
My family is being so loud out in the kitchen and I need some quiet to study. I’m going to take my laptop into my bedroom or I’ll never get anything done.
This rationalization has nothing to do with porn and in a lot of ways feels totally innocent. But we need to be brutally honest with ourselves if we hope to gain real ground in our recovery.
Turning Weakness to Strength
If we look at that same situation again we can see how a rational response sets us on a safe path and empowers us to success. Instead of rationalizing one might say:
I’m having a hard time studying right now but I shouldn’t take my laptop into my bedroom. I’ve had plenty of setbacks in the past that way and it’s not worth the risk. If I’m being honest, just thinking about having privacy and access to a computer is already making me think about porn. I’ll figure something else out so I can study. Besides, I set the goal to not use devices in my bedroom and I want to stick to that.
Responding with clarity and direction in times where we could have easily taken the path of least resistance will strengthen you in so many ways. Every time we learn to inch toward our goals, we will find strength, vision and meaningful reward.
C.S. Lewis said:
Every time you make a choice, you are turning the core, central part of you into something a little different from what it was before. All of our lives, across many choices, we are slowly turning this central thing into one kind of person or another.