THE COLUMN

Issue No. 73/July 6, 1996


IRRATIONALIZATIONS

IVAN HOFFMAN

Everything that cannot be proven concretely, if we are to believe it, must be taken on faith. Much upon which we base our lives does not exist in this concrete sense. What we believe is truth is often nothing more than ideas that we have made up.

We make up these ideas and proceed then to create a reality that follows such ideas. If we do this often enough, the ideas that we have made up become seemingly concrete truths. They are provable, however only by the very same events of our lives that we have used to invent the ideas in the first instance. We believe in that which we have made up and feel it is impossible to believe anything that flies in the face of these "facts." Many of these "facts" are not facts at all but irrationalizations.

It would not pay for you to look up the word "irrationalizations" in any dictionary for it does not exist. It is a word I have made up to describe our attempt to impose order on a disorderly universe. A rationalization is pretty much the same idea. It is our logical mind, our left brain, inventing ideas that "make sense" to us when what we see, when what happens to us is otherwise unexplainable. But irrationalization seems a better term when we lose sight of the fact that we are attempting to rationalize something and instead believe that the rationalization is the truth.

These are some irrationalizations:

  1. We believe, as children, that we are unloved. As we grow, "unloved" becomes "unlovable," and that means to us that we do not deserve love. It means to us that we are unworthy of being loved. So we seek out real world experiences in order to make sense out of our world. By reinforcing in our minds that life has given us "facts" to show us that we are not worthy of love, we believe we have proven our initial premise to be so. What we do not seem to understand is that we have only sought out life experiences for the very purpose of proving our premise. Of course, therefore, we will prove ourselves right. We have lifted ourselves by our own bootstraps. There is no "proof" that we are unworthy other than the "facts" we have used to prove it to ourselves. But we believe these irrationalizations.
  2. We believe that there is love in the universe, even if we ourselves have been unable to find it. This is the alternative irrationalization to number 1. We believe this to be so and continue to search it out, in relationship after relationship, never believing that a universe can exist without it. Each is as much an irrationalization as the other. But 2 is sweeter for some than is 1. For others, 1 is better than 2 if considerably more pessimistic.
  3. We believe that there is an order to the universe. We seek facts that enable us to make sense out of things that occur and when we lack facts, explanations that can be proven, we attribute the unanswerable to the need to have faith. We do not understand our pain, our sorrow but believe at some point the answer will become clear to us because the universe will show us the reason these things happened. And in order to prove that we are right, we find "explanations" that explain the result as some life lesson from which we can grow.
  4. We believe that we cannot change our original irrationalization. Even if we are sensitive enough to recognize an irrationalization when we see it, we may still feel powerless to change that which we have lived by for decades, if not the entirety of our lives. If that irrationalization is, for example, that we are unworthy of love, then we feel that it is nearly impossible for us to ever have another idea, one that makes us change the initial one. We may want a new irrationalization but cannot find the power to create one.
Irrationalizations are not, standing alone, either good or bad things. If they work to bring you joy, love, peace and abundance, then for you they are good. If, on the other hand, they only bring you misery, and pain, and unloving relationships and experiences, then you might want to take a look at your irrationalizations. At some point, when we reach spiritual intimacy, enlightenment, we may be able to live without the need for irrationalizations, merely accepting without attempting to make sense out of any of it.

I know there is pain and sorrow in the world but I only believe in my irrationalizations that create love and joy.

Perhaps that makes me irrational.

© 1996 Ivan Hoffman


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