Rationalisation is a very common, effective but deceptive defence mechanism. When we find a situation or feeling etc unacceptable but do not want to acknowledge this, we make up a rational, logical explanation to counteract and justify it in order to avoid the feelings of anxiety, guilt, shame etc that we would otherwise be forced to confront.

I may have been speeding on the motorway but so were all the other cars and there were no clear signs so it’s not my fault

Rationalisation occurs on a continuum, from a more conscious level, such as when we make excuses for things we know we shouldn’t have done, to a more unconscious level when it is used to block internal feeling such as guilt and shame.

I ate the last slice of cake because it would have been a waste not to have (even though I’m on a diet).

I’m going to take some extra sugar sachets from the café home with me, I’ve bought a coffee so what’s the problem…

As Muslims, we can probably recognise that this is where Shaytan slips in and starts whispering…. and whispering …..

I’ll just do the washing up first so it’s not on my mind when I pray…

It’s not really backbiting if I tell only one person …….

We rationalise all the time!

To work on yourself start trying to notice when you rationalise your ‘unacceptable’ thoughts, feelings, behaviours or situations.

You could even narrow it down and select an area to focus on e.g. rationalisations related to:

♦ Performing prayer (e.g. I’ll pray later when I get home from work as it’s quieter)

♦ My relationship with food (e.g. I’ll start my diet tomorrow otherwise the food in the fridge will go off)

♦ Shopping (well I need this because …..)

Write them down in a notebook or journal as this will help you gain more insight, and from there you can start to develop and improve yourself InShaAllah.