Where Is Your Moral Compass?

When making choices, our morals play a vital role in guiding us towards what we perceive as right and wrong. Our morals serve as a compass that keeps us on the path of integrity and helps us make choices that align with our values. However, something that we all do, often without even knowing it, can interfere and throw us off of making choices that we agree with or living a life we want to live. Rationalization, a helpful tool, can slowly but surely erode this compass, leading us astray from our moral beliefs.
Rationalizing Behavior
What does rationalization, aka justifying, look like? One example of how we justify our actions is when we create explanations or reasons to validate the potentially questionable decisions or actions we've taken. At first, justifications can seem relatively harmless — often a way to reconcile minor inconsistencies in our behavior with our morals. However, the danger lies in these justifications' frequency and magnitude. When done repetitively, especially for increasingly questionable actions, there's a real risk that we become desensitized to our ethical missteps.
One of the most dangerous aspects of rationalization is that it can happen unconsciously. Some might be aware that they're using this psychological tactic to sidestep the discomfort of confronting the genuine nature of their actions. Others, potentially due to trauma, fear, or self-preservation, may be oblivious to how often they participate in these behaviors. Regardless, over time, when gone unaddressed, justifying our actions can lead to a substantial drift from one's foundational moral beliefs, resulting in behaviors that once seemed unacceptable becoming normalized.
Eroding Trust
Beyond personal consequences, this shift in a person's morals can profoundly impact relationships. As we justify our actions and decisions more frequently, others may perceive us as less trustworthy or dependable. The fabric of mutual trust, which forms the bedrock of any meaningful relationship, whether personal or professional, can begin to fray and become less trustworthy or desirable.
We must remain aware and continually assess our motivations to counteract this potential erosion of our ethical compass. By periodically checking in with ourselves and genuinely evaluating the reasons behind our actions, we can identify patterns of unjustified behavior and take steps to correct the course. Embracing self-awareness, utilizing accountability from those we trust, and adopting a mindset of continuous self-improvement help ensure our actions align with our core ethical and moral beliefs.
Profound Impact
While justifying our actions might seem like a harmless, often sub-conscience, way to soothe our shame or guilt, its cumulative impact on our internal guide can be profound. Upholding and maintaining our moral integrity requires a proactive approach characterized by self-awareness, reflection and a commitment to making decisions that resonate with our core values.
Does something about this article resonate with you or someone you love? Do you need to know whether or not your internal compass has been skewed? Or do you need clarification on what your core values are so that you can practice the self-awareness mentioned above? If you answered yes to any of these questions, reach out and schedule a session with me by calling Lifeologie Counseling Austin at (512) 651-3575 or click here to request an appointment today. I would love to support you in navigating these topics, identifying ways to find the answers you want, and maintaining a sense of authority over yourself.

About Calvin Burns

Calvin Burns, MA, LPC, LCDC-I, earned his BA in Psychology with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas Tech University and earned his Master's in Counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary. He specializes in disordered eating, addictive behaviors, depression, anxiety, parenting support, adolescents/emerging adults, and couples counseling. He brings unwavering hope to his clients, and firmly believes that people can change and their stories can be rewritten. He sees adolescents, young adults, adults, couples and families at Lifeologie Counseling Austin.

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