Rationalization is one of those terms easily has a slightly suspicious, undesirable, even sinister tone to it. Something you certainly don’t want anything to do with yourself, and would protest to or be ashamed of being in the grips of.
But if we look closer, we see that it is (a) completely innocent, and (b) something that is an integral part of our daily life.
In psychology, rationalization is the process of constructing a logical justification for a decision, action or lack thereof that was originally arrived at through a different mental process.
When I look for myself, I find that I always rationalize in this sense of the word. I act, I decide, and I make up stories about why.
I tell myself I acted and decided because of certain likes and dislikes, certain thought processes and so on, but those are all stories. They are hypotheses about what happened. I don’t really know. I cannot really know.
There is a thought, then a decision or action, but if I am honest, I see that I cannot really know the causality of it.
Of course, the term is meant to refer to a story created to cover up what we see as the real reason for our choices and actions, when this reason is too difficult for us to admit. So in a conventional sense this obviously happens or not, in different situations throughout our daily life.
But here too, if we look, we may find that it is happening all the time.
Thoughts arise. Decisions happen. Actions happen. There is doing.
But is there a doer? If we look, there may not be any “doer” to be found anywhere. The truth of our experience, already now, may be that there is no doer here. No I with an Other.
So whenever we create stories saying that “I” made a decision, I acted, I did this, that too is a rationalization. We create a story of an I there where none is to be found, if we look.
So we rationalize always in that we make up stories of causality. We rationalize or not in the more conventional sense of the word, making up stories about why we did something because what we suspect is the “real” reason is too difficult to admit. And we rationalize whenever we make up a story of an “I” doing something, when we make up stories of a doer.