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Stop Rationalizing Your Behavior

I LOVE TODAY’S lesson. I have a master’s degree in rationalizing my own behavior, and I’m guessing you do to. Ultimately, we are accountable only to ourselves. So it’s no wonder we develop coping mechanisms to justify our behavior. The problem is we cannot fool ourselves. See if you can identify with any of these:

I’m going to eat another piece of cake but I’m going to the gym tonight so I’ll just run an extra mile.

My mom made me fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I have to eat it. If I don’t, I’ll hurt her feelings.

Everyone else wanted to order pizza to share. What was I going to do – order a special entrée for just me?

I promise I will start my diet tomorrow.

It’s healthy food so it doesn’t matter how much I eat.

Sure, it’s got a lot of calories but I deserve it after what I went through today.

I can overeat now because I’ll be in a meeting at lunch, and who knows when I’ll get to eat again?

Can I get an amen? Below, jot down some of the ways you rationalize overeating or eating when you are not hungry.





You have to recognize when these tempting thoughts come into play and identify them before you eat. You need to reframe your thoughts so you are able to make different choices.

Consider whether the rationalizing has worked for you in the past. Did you feel guilty after eating or overeating? My guess is that you might have enjoyed the food in the moment but felt guilty shortly after eating it. So rationalizing is harmful, not helpful in achieving your goals.

The technique you learned earlier about creating an SOS card can help here. When tempted, take a moment and pull out your card. This will help you change your thought patterns.

Here’s another activity that may help. Think about your rationalizing. List an example of something that you would tell yourself.

I don’t have to weigh in for 6 more days so I will have time to make up for this piece of chocolate cake.

Now reframe that thought to something like this:

I know bite one will taste amazing and maybe even bite two. But by mid-piece I will start feeling guilty and I won’t even enjoy the rest of the cake. Then I’ll spend the rest of the night beating myself up and blaming my husband for letting me eat the cake.

And change your actions to this:

I’ll split it with my husband, take 1-2 bites and stop.

Follow these steps to create SOS cards for these situations: 1. What are the sabotaging thoughts in my head. 2. How can I reframe those thoughts? 3. How do I translate the new thought into a positive action?