What is a justification?

Funny you should ask.

Justifications straddle a grey area.  They are part explanation, part excuse, part lie, and part truth.  They attempt to excuse and/or explain away ridiculous, strange, destructive, abusive, inconsiderate, stupid, ignorant, and/or bad behavior, as well as poor decisions and failures through a special sort of truth-telling that contains a certain degree of deceit.

Are justifications “white lies”?  Sometimes.  But if you know you are lying, it’s not a justification.  Self-deception is a critical element, for it is through deceiving ourselves that many statements move from the realm of “lie” and into the realm of “justification.” 

An excellent justification must be plausible.  It must ring true to yourself as well as to others, so it must contain some truth.  In most cases, however, justifications don’t tell the whole story.  They are conveniently partial truths.

In this sense, justifications share something in common with rationalizations, which Sigmund Freud identified as one of many defense mechanisms that individuals and groups use to maintain their cleverly constructed positive self-image.  If this is true, then justifications are a roadblock to understanding yourself and your place in the rich tapestry of life.

But knowing yourself, really knowing yourself, is a lifetime endeavor filled with years of things like meditative practice, self-analysis, and potentially painful realizations.  It’s much easier to remain ignorant of yourself, and thus of others, justifying your behavior along the way.  If that’s what you’re about, then we can help.





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