My wife Karen made a beef casserole for the first time, leading our five year-old Hayden to ask, “What’s Beef?”

“It’s a cow.” We responded.

“A cow?” He exclaimed.  “What other farm animals do we eat?’  He asked suspiciously. 

Karen and I looked at each other.  Hayden loves animals and this could be interesting.  It was my turn to do the explaining.  I talked about pigs and sheep.  Then I mentioned chicken.

“Oh yeah, I know about chicken.”  Hayden said.  He sat there quietly thinking for a few moments before proclaiming, “The cows we eat were all bad guys.”

He had gone from being surprised and almost outraged to rationalising why we ate beef.

As adults, we often do the same, but in a much less endearing fashion. 

What are some of the dangerous rationalisations that we use?

It’s everyone elses fault that I’m angry!  If you’ve ever found yourself consistently blaming others for your anger, it’s probably time to take charge again.  If you have an anger problem, it’s your issue and you have to deal with it before it becomes too much of a problem for others.

Our prisons are full of people who blame others for their indiscretions.  Don’t fall into the trap of following their lead and not taking responsibility for your responses.  The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, don’t fly off the handle, control your response and start taking charge of your emotions.

Look at my background, I’m never going to amount to anything!  One of the most dangerous rationalisations is to define yourself by your past and blame your parents or upbringing for your current circumstances.  History is full of people who were able to break the shackles of a disadvantaged past to do some amazing things and become successful. 

People like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama are great examples that humble beginnings don’t need to become an excuse for a lack of success in adulthood.  If you are over 18, it’s time to stop using the excuse of your past and to make something of your future. 

I’m just unlucky.  Having this sort of thought process is extremely dangerous.  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that can trap you into a life of mediocrity and being pushed around by external circumstances. 

Successful people aren’t lucky.  They are there because they have the right attitude, work hard and do so consistently.  When things don’t go their way, they don’t despair and blame fate, they push through. 

As the saying goes, “The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.”

All of the above rationalisations will result in you being buffeted around by life.  It’s like being in a kayak on rapids without a paddle.  You’ll be pushed around and others will decide your destiny and you can guarantee that it won’t be a successful one.

You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, so if these statements or similar excuses sound familiar, it’s time to grab a paddle and start making changes to your thought processes to assist you in taking charge of life again.

What are some of the other limiting rationalisations that you have heard or even used yourself?

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