We're all on the journey.
April 11, 2023
Experiential Rationalization: Why We Justify Our Decisions & Actions Based On Past Experiences

In this episode, Clarissa, a 36 year old hairdresser from a small Midwestern town, struggles to find her place in the world amidst her family's criticism and judgements while navigating the power dynamics of experiential rationalization.

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In this episode, Clarissa, a 36 year old hairdresser from a small Midwestern town, struggles to find her place in the world amidst her family's criticism and judgements while navigating the power dynamics of experiential rationalization.


Self-doubt. We often wear her blanket of insecurity like a well-worn and bloodied shield. Her insidious torment, a thunderous echoing in our ears. You have probably heard them - the millions of questions that sometimes filter through our mental framing as we consider everything that might have gone wrong within a scenario. 

When faced with the inherent challenges of life, we each tend to search for the safety and security discovered in our blankets of certainty - feeling as it our past experiences provide an accurate insight into our state of being. Yet unconscious, the often story changes….and our emotions tell a different story. Stories base on how we relate our present perspectives compared to the past. Therefore - our stories…are incorrect. 


In this episode, you will be able to:


  • Grasp the significance of experiential rationalization in shaping your decisions and actions.
  • Hone your emotional self-regulation skills through introspection and receptive feedback.
  • Rise above detrimental influences for an enriched path to personal growth.
  • Confront cognitive biases to arrive at impartial decision-making.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

  • Acknowledge and accept both the positive and negative aspects of your past experiences, without using them to justify future decisions.
  • Focus on evidence-based decision-making rather than relying solely on your emotions or past experiences.
  • Recognize that your past experiences do not define your future decisions, but can provide context for growth and learning.
  • Continuously work on improving your self-awareness and emotional self-regulation through meditation, therapy, or other personal growth practices.

Dissociation and Self-Reflection
When faced with stressful situations or unacknowledged emotions, individuals may resort to dissociation as a means of coping. While this unconscious behavior allows them to temporarily escape from their emotional struggles, it ultimately hinders their self-discovery and personal growth. To overcome dissociation, individuals should practice self-reflection and seek feedback from empathetic sources who can provide valuable perspectives on their potential blind spots. 

By taking a conscious effort to understand their triggers and remaining present, people can gradually shift towards healthier emotional self-regulation. Jeffrey Besecker shared the story of Clarissa, a woman who struggled with dissociation as a result of her difficult experiences. He emphasized that acknowledging and addressing one's dissociative tendencies is crucial in reconnecting with one's true self. 

In a conversation with transformational coach,Hoda Zekavat, Besecker discussed the importance of a non-judgmental approach to managing dissociation, taking note of patterns and practicing self-compassion to encourage positive change.


Related Episodes:

Shadow Integration: Removing Emotional Baggage to Release False Beliefs with Hoda Zekavat

From Hamsters to Happiness: How to Ditch The Hedonic Treadmill of Dissatisfaction

The Autonomic Ladder: Unlock Your Natural Inner Power w/ John Eli Garay


JOIN US ON INSTAGRAM: @thelightinsidepodcast

SUBSCRIBE: pod.link/thelightinside


Featured Guests:

Hoda Zekavat

Chandra Lynn

Kate Dudzik


Credits: Music Score by Epidemic Sound

Executive Producer: Jeffrey Besecker

Mixing, Engineering, Production, and Mastering: Aloft Media Studio

Senior Program Director: Anna Getz




Individual differences in intuitive–experiential and analytical–rational thinking styles



Gut feelings, deliberative thought, and paranoid ideation: A study of experiential and rational reasoning




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00:00:00 You. This is the light inside. I'm Jeffreyrey Besecker self Doubt we wear her blanket of insecurity like a well worn and bloodied shield. Her insidious torment a thunderous echo in our ears. You've probably heard them, the millions of questions that sometimes filter through our mental framing as we consider everything that might have gone wrong within a scenario.


00:00:27 Maybe I went through so much pain and struggle because my calling is higher. If I love myself first, then I will have more confidence. I'm not succeeding because I'm playing too small. You have to be uncomfortable in order to grow. I probably can't do it, but at least I'll try.


00:00:46 Nothing good ever comes easy. When faced with the inherent challenges of life, we each tend to search for the safety and security discovered in our blankets of certainty, feeling as if our past experiences provide an accurate insight into our state of being. Yet unconsciously, the story often changes, and our emotions tell a different story. Stories based on how we relate our present perspectives compared to the past, therefore, our stories are incorrect. Tune in to find out how when we return to the light inside.


00:01:32 Clarissa is a 36 year old hairdresser from a small Midwestern town. Newly divorced, she is struggling to find her sense of identity among her siblings in the world. The middle child of six, she constantly fought for her parents love and attention while trying to find her place in the family. Therefore, Clarissa sees herself as the black sheep, unable to either please the seemingly constant demands and criticisms of her parents and the sarcastic dismissals of her siblings. Although it's difficult to imagine what it would feel like to be in Clarissa's shoes, for some, it's painfully apparent.


00:02:08 My father, he just always seemed to struggle seriously. He was hell bent. I think he was bent on drinking himself to death. He just wasn't ever fully there for us, at least not the way it seemed the other dads were. I always felt so left out, you know, like maybe I wasn't a part of the pack with all of her family members.


00:02:32 Being surrounded by a large, loud family can feel overwhelming in that. And the more you try to fit into their mold, the more you may feel so distinctly out of place. Clarissa tells herself she could be banking an effort to be more outgoing, but is finding herself unable to change what she believes is her true inner nature. Her siblings frequently tell her, you're just too sensitive. Risks you didn't have.


00:02:56 It that tough. As a result of this staining alienation and an overriding feeling of low self worth, clarissa constantly places herself in situations that place her at odds with her family. Feeling progressively worse about her selfconcept, clarissa is struggling to find her place in her family in social circles, and especially as she struggles to find any meaning and purpose throughout her life. Her father struggled with alcoholism, had a bad temper, and he went absent for long periods of time. And her mother always busy with the younger kids.


00:03:30 She only felt she had one sibling with whom she could relate, her eldest brother Jim. Unable to cope with their father's abusive outburst in harsh judgments, he moved away when she was ten years old. Jim had always been her guardian angel, protecting Clarissa from any slight the others might have slung toward her. This made her feel special, and when Jim's protective bubble disappeared, she felt like an outsider. The others always seemed impervious to their situation.


00:03:58 They always seemed so tough, acting like none of it bothered them ever. You see, growing up, she began smoking, drinking, and doing drugs in order to mask the creeping sense of insecurity. In isolation, she often felt, why does it seem like no one truly loves and cares for me? Rumination ultimately being the drug of choice that replaces her craving for love, empathy, and a true sense of belonging. She had gotten married at 18 and had a couple of kids by 22.


00:04:28 She realized that this wasn't the life she wanted for herself. So she continues to question, why am I so different? After being divorced for the second time and being humiliated in front of the whole family, clarissa is trying to find a way to rationalize it, going over the scenario again and again and again, overthinking the situation, and trying to figure out exactly what went wrong. She knows that her family can be critical and that they tend to judge things too quickly. But she also knows that they don't mean any harm.


00:05:00 They just want the best for her. I heard it a lot. You're such a drama queen. All I really ever wanted was for someone to make me feel safe. You know, Jim was my best friend as a kid.


00:05:13 He looked out for me. When he left, I was alone. Isolated in a negative situation, people often rationalize it by telling themselves it was just a result of the irrational behavior of others. By doing so, those who react negatively can distance themselves from their own actions. For example, Clarissa might think to herself, my parents just don't understand me.


00:05:36 That's why they don't approve of my choices. It is in this manner labeling ourselves as the black sheep gives us a false sense of security and empowerment. Our difference is therefore standing in for healthy self concept and truly empowering self esteem. Instead, we constantly struggle with the power dynamics of maintaining a false self and a mask of independence and projected uniqueness. When people are in a negative situation, they often try to rationalize it by telling themselves that it was simply the result of other people's irrational behavior.


00:06:09 In this way, the people acting negatively are able to distance themselves from their own actions. This is an example of dissociation, which is a defensive mechanism used to cope with negative situations. It involves the subject distancing themselves from the issue by blaming other people or circumstances for the difficulty they felt. Dissociation is a defensive coping mechanism used by individuals to distance themselves from their own actions and feelings. It's often used when an individual is faced with a difficult situation they cannot change or control.


00:06:45 However, dissociation can be used as a useful coping mechanism, and it can help people to distance themselves from difficult situations and to cope with difficult emotions. It can also help people to understand and process their experiences. Dissociation can be a healthy way of creating psychological distance from a difficult situation, allowing an individual to think about the situation more objectively and to gain greater perspective. Emotions are often at the forefront of experiential rationalization as opposed to rational thinking. In essence, it describes how your past experiences can be used to justify decisions and actions you make or have taken in the past, and in particular, to override or discount any negative feelings or experiences associated with those decisions and actions.


00:07:39 In a world that moves very quickly, it's easy to make decisions based on prior experiences without stopping to examine all available information. Here's the thing our assumptions are subject to biases and heuristics, and often our judgment is wrong. Human beings and our experiences are highly subjective. Although we think we are rationalizing or justifying our decisions, in many cases we are simply rationalizing why we feel a certain way. This can be due to positive feelings associated with picking that decision over another or negative feelings associated with choosing a different option.


00:08:17 The fact of the matter is, we are all susceptible to experiential rationalization. However, being aware of this cognitive bias can help us make better decisions in the future. It might be helpful to think objectively before making any important decision or taking any action that will have a lasting effect on our lives. Over time, this experiential rationalization can lead to the formation of unconscious behavioral patterns. These patterns can become deeply ingrained and automatic, influencing how we act and react in various situations without us even realizing.


00:08:54 This can include our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors toward others, as well as how we approach problem solving and decision making. For example, if a person has had a negative experience with a particular group of people, they may unconsciously form negative beliefs or attitudes toward this group. This can lead them to behave in ways that are discriminatory or biased towards that group without even realizing it. Similarly, if a person has always approached problem solving in a particular way based on their past experiences, they may unconsciously continue to use that approach, even if it is not effective or appropriate for the current situation. To break unconscious behavioral patterns, it is important to become aware of our biases and assumptions and actively work to challenge and change them.


00:09:42 This can involve seeking out new experiences, perspectives and information, as well as practicing mindfulness and self reflection. By becoming more conscious of our thoughts and behaviors, we can begin to make more intentional and positive choices and break free from automatic and potentially harmful patterns. For more on this pattern of dissociation, we join our guest transformational coach, Hoda Zuckovit. Hoda, experiential rationality is frequently believed to play an essential role in noticing our patterns of dissociation. From your experience, how can we begin to guide these patterns into our awareness and create a healthy shift in our ability to emotionally self regulate?


00:10:25 Yeah, noticing the pattern, whether, as you said before, you don't need to judge it as positive or negative, but just simply noticing the pattern, becoming aware of it. So, for example, dissociation, it's a coping mechanism that you pick up. It's a pattern. It's a way of behaving. And the first time that I found out that I dissociate, I judged it as, oh, this is a terrible thing.


00:10:54 This hasn't been serving me, this hasn't been a good thing. And then slowly I started to have fun with it and laugh, and every time I might catch myself. So now I've become good at catching it. I notice the pattern. Every time I notice the pattern, it's just a good time between me and my inner child.


00:11:12 Like, oh, did you just associate it's okay, we forgive you. Compassion, it comes back to that. Love and compassion for the self. Yes. Our disassociation is kind of that moving into denial or not willing to see things, not willing to just simply look at it and say it is what it is.


00:11:39 That's the surrender. Saying it is what it is until I make it what it was, what it is now, or what it might be. The thing is that takes Jeffrey a very long time to actually, I wouldn't say it's about willingness. It's not in your control. It could be a loud noise, and it just triggers something in your brain, a pattern in your brain, what have you.


00:12:05 And you just get out of your body. You have an out of body experience, and once you come back, it could be 2 seconds, it could be 20 seconds, it could be several minutes. Yes. You realize that it happened if you've done the work to actually realize some people don't even know that they dissociate. Yeah, but I would say as someone who has experienced this and who has dealt with a lot of people who have dealt with dissociation, I wouldn't say that this is about willingness.


00:12:38 It's outside of the will. But the more you become conscious, the more you meditate, the more you look at yourself the more you sit in silence and stillness and look at yourself from the outside, the more you start your day with gratitude for the positive things for the things that build you, for the things that make you more conscious and open to what is happening around you, the more you work on coming into your body every day and feeling your senses and being grateful for your every sense. The senses that we take for granted so very much all the time because they're always at our service, we don't even think about our senses. The more you can veer away from dissociating and remaining in your body despite triggers.


00:13:28 Here's why we do it the decision to engage in experiential rationalization is based on one of three main reasons we want to feel good, we want to reduce our cognitive dissonance, or we believe that it will improve our decision making. Self reflections can be a valuable tool, yet sometimes these reflections contain insufficient data, inaccuracies, and even cognitive distortions that create a biased and unrealistic picture of the situation. We make hundreds of decisions every day, big and small, simple and complex. We choose where to live, what to do with our time at work, and who we sit next to on the subway. When it comes down to the big decisions in life, we have a tendency to look back, regardless of whether they were good or bad, and rationalize our decisions by thinking they were ultimately the right ones.


00:14:23 The problem is that we're making these judgments in hindsight after everything worked out. Although we are prone to predicting certain things and then trying to evaluate a valid reason, we often don't have sufficient information to fully understand why things happen. However, even if we don't have all the information, making predictions can sometimes help us to understand the situation better and to be prepared for what might happen. Questioning is crucial both when assessing self awareness and vulnerably. Accepting feedback from others, asking questions allows us to gain insight into our own thoughts and actions, as well as giving us perspectives from those around us.


00:15:05 For instance, questions such as what do I want to learn from this experience? What beliefs do I need to discard in order to progress? And how can I use this feedback to improve? Can help to facilitate self reflection and personal growth. Challenging our assumptions therefore empowers us for healthy, beneficial growth and overall personal wellbeing.


00:15:29 Even though we tend to operate well from our own inner guidance. As a friendly suggestion, we might also actively seek compassionate, empathetic and constructive feedback from outside sources on a regular basis. Around the world, millions of people make decisions every day. It's easy to assume that we are the originators of our decisions and actions. But much of the time, our decisions and actions are based on past experiences.


00:15:56 Whether it be someone else's advice or our own past experience, we end up basing our decision making off of a previous experience. If you rationalize a bad decision by focusing on the positive experience instead of recognizing it as a failure or mistake, you'll be more likely to repeat the same behavior in similar situations. Have you ever wondered, why do we make some choices and then justify them when there are clear reasons not to make them? We often ignore the facts and opinions of others to justify our decisions because we have our own reasons for believing what we do when we choose something different, despite all evidence processed, we tend to add new justifications that allow us to feel better about our choices. We call this experiential rationality because when the immediate results of a decision or action are positive, we tend to selectively overlook any negative aspects.


00:16:52 Why? Because if you came away feeling good, why would you change how you operate after making an important decision? Take some time to reflect on how this decision could negatively impact you in the future. Keep in mind that while experiences can affect our future decisions, they don't define them. They simply provide crude context.


00:17:15 Reflecting on experiences and emotions is one cornerstone of using evidencebased. Decision Making experiential rationalization is often associated with and driven by emotional rather than rational thinking. It works to explain how your past experiences, especially what you felt or experienced, can be used to justify decisions and actions you make and have made in the past. In particular, to override or discount any negative emotions or experiences associated with these decisions and actions. By justifying a decision or action based on our feelings rather than the facts, we effectively create ad hoc justifications that may not be rational on the surface.


00:17:58 Have you ever made a decision or taken action and then tried to rationalize that decision or action by drawing upon the positive experiences associated with it? Human beings can frequently mispredict how much our emotions influence our behavior. We call this the empathy gap, the space between action and indecision. The empathy gap describes our tendency to underestimate the influence of varying mental states on our behavior while making decisions that only satisfy our current emotion, feeling or state of being. Take your desires to eat more healthy because of the empathy gap, we rationalize between how much we want to eat a healthy diet depending on how hungry we feel, then weighing between hypothetical healthy choices and actual unhealthy food decisions.


00:18:49 Think about the last time you were hangry. That state where, despite our best health efforts, our hunger pains and our desire to meet them reaches the point where we begin to get a little short and angry with others and we will try literally eating anything and everything under the sun just to feel a little less irritable. We turn to author and certified Healthy Living coach Chandra Lynn to explain the role the empathy gap plays when driving experiential rationalization and how emotional dysregulation affects our ability to meet our needs in a more healthy way. Chandra, how does empathy play such a critical role in our emotional regulation and our motivational factors when we're aware of this? I really believe it's what gives us the ability to make really conscious decisions and make great decisions for ourselves that serve our needs at high and healthy levels.


00:19:44 The challenge is that a lot of people will get these needs met no matter what it's basically we have to and they may choose unhealthy patterns in order to get those needs met. There are lots of needs that get met through addiction, through I mean, we can go on and on about negative behaviors. We all know what negative behaviors are. Why do they exist? They exist because they're serving a need.


00:20:10 So in that regard, do you feel it's almost impossible for us to avoid the influence of emotions on our behavior and instead it's important that we acknowledge their impact? Well, transcendence and contribution. Contributing beyond your own needs is actually a need. We have a need to be able to help and serve others. I think it's partially because we are in a community.


00:20:35 We have other people around us, we care about other people and so we want to serve them at high levels too. And what it does, it actually helps us, when we have a focus on that, to meet all of our other needs in really healthy ways because it really does serve each need. It can give us certainty, it can give us significance, it can help us feel like we have something valuable to contribute so that ties into our self worth and our self esteem. It can help us feel connected to other people, so it serves our need for intimacy and love and connection. There's so many different ways we can contribute so that can serve our need for variety.


00:21:10 It helps us with our growth because we might also be growing by learning about other people's experiences, through empathy, through connecting with other people. We see different ways of living, of being, of choosing things in life. And so basically all of the needs get met when we can get into a mindset of serving and contributing beyond ourselves. The challenge is that we have material needs that can get in the way and we can get really stuck in them. Specifically, we may have a need for security needs.


00:21:42 Sometimes when security needs aren't getting met, it's very difficult to think about what you can give to others because you're having to focus on bring more certainty and security inside of yourself. So there's an interplay between all of these needs and it's really fascinating. And the cool thing is that when you have consciousness around them, it's when you really have the tools that you need to be able to make huge transformations in your life. We're all susceptible from time to time, whether it's buying the shoes that we always wanted, quitting our jobs and starting our own businesses, or accepting an offer for a new car. It's normal to feel this way sometimes.


00:22:17 Experiential rationalization can cause us to justify our decisions and actions. In practice, this process means that we're likely to attribute the positive outcomes of a decision, action or experience to something other than the true reason. For example, if someone experiences success after taking a risk, they might attribute their success to a higher purpose rather than their own consistent action. An important tool for self improvement is self reflection. There are times when these reflections are incomplete, inexact, and even cognitively distorted, which creates a biased and unrealistic picture of the situation.


00:22:58 Coming up next, we'll learn how a bias known as the introspection illusion inhibits our ability to emotionally self regulate and make effective decisions when we return to the light inside it. Insecurity has a funny way of turning each of us into a social outcast. You know, I couldn't really ever see how everything I was doing, all the trying to be something other than me, it was self sabotage. I always seemed to be digging my own hole, so to speak. You know, I've softened and I am no longer that hard on myself.


00:23:52 Thank God I found good, supportive counseling and coaching. I'm better for it. My kids are better for it. Even my family life is stronger now, so much stronger. It's a relief because it was hard, you know, always trying to be someone I really wasn't.


00:24:07 It's freeing because now I can just be. Why is it that we focus on items or information that are more prominent while ignoring those that are not? The salience bias describes our tendency to focus on items or information that are more noteworthy while ignoring those that do not grab our attention. While the ability to quickly detect what is important and deserving of our attention is an important survival and learning mechanism, a predisposition to focus on the most prominent and emotionally striking details at hand leads us to ignore potentially vital pieces of information. As a result, we may make suboptimal decisions, such as avoiding healthy, constructive criticism, because emotions are more important than details about how past experiences may affect a more healthy perception of ourselves.


00:24:58 The salient's bias arises from a contrast between items in their surroundings, such as black sheep in a herd of white sheep or a car alarm going off during a quiet day. As controversial as it may seem, the statement often rings true. We often don't know what we simply don't know, especially when it comes to the self. Introspection is a form of self observation and assessment of one's mental processes. But here's the thing it's not necessarily accurate.


00:25:29 Introspection is heavily influenced by our own biases and subjective interpretations. For this reason, it's important to seek objective feedback when making decisions. Therefore, creating emotional, selfregulation clarifying, purposefulness, effective motivational factors and beneficial action strategies often involves self awareness and inner knowing. In order to make better decisions, we need to be able to objectively examine the decision making process itself. Kate Dudzick is a cognitive behavioral scientist.


00:26:04 Kate has made a career of studying our human behavioral patterns and the factors that influence them. We spoken to Kate in the past. You may remember that we discussed how unique aspects of ourselves surface or show up in different circumstances and situations that our personality and experiences although they influence our sense of self, are forever changing and evolving, and how the five factor model of personality allows us to see a clearer, more diverse and effective model of personal change. So Kate, what is the five factor model of personality and how is its hierarchical nature organized? Beautiful.


00:26:44 So the five factor theory of personality is, quite honestly, my favorite personality model or way of assessing personalities. It's composed of five prominent traits. So for those of you who haven't heard of this before, you can use the acronym Ocean to remember it a little bit better. That's the one that I learned. That's how I came to remember it.


00:27:05 So it's openness to experience conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. One of the things I like most about this particular way of analyzing personality is that the way it's measured is on almost like a gradient scale versus an all or nothing, a binary way of viewing the sense itself. So when you're doing a five factor personality set or test sorry, at least the extended full version, I know there's been lots of reproductions and condensed versions put out there, but if you do a proper full version, you'll start to see that it's gradient degrees of expression in itself. So to kind of unpack that, it's looking at the way that you could be extroverted in some instances, but you could also identify dominantly as an introvert and it kind of accounts for those gray areas or different percentages of expression depending on where you are, who you're with, or different ways of experiencing life. I also like that it's all encompassing and that you can have a dominant trait.


00:28:22 But we have pieces of all five of them in each of this, right? So there's a lot of personality tests out there or ways of defining ourselves by personality that are just binary. They say introverted or extroverted, but this kind of looks at, okay, so we kind of have all of the things. It may just depend on the environment, on how they're expressed, but this is the likelihood that this trait is going to show up as the dominant one, or this is going to show up as a less prominent feature of our personality. Right.


00:28:56 So I really like it because it's a lot more inclusive of those different shades coming out in different degrees and different likelihoods, depending on the person, of course. But kind of like how we can be different in different environments without being a different self. I like to go back to this episode sometime past in our program with Dr. Benjamin Hardy in his book Personality Isn't Permanent. We often can get stuck on that aspect of these set of parameters, are the definitive eye that we're seeing things with.


00:29:35 The Who I Am that often becomes kind of stuck, becomes kind of stagnated, gets embroiled in its own biases, does not often step into that act of introspection or simply taking stock in who I am, what values I hold, what creates meaning for me, how that then interacts in an effective manner with others. Personality is it permanent? Is the tenant here allow that personality to be somewhat malleable, to change, to grow, to evolve, to become the who I am now, in order to step into the who I will be reminder that I go back to constantly with Ben.


00:30:22 That's so beautiful and it's so important. I wish more people understood this about themselves because it's a critical part of existing in an ever evolving world. One of our biggest mistakes is to fight change or to resist change. And I think this is where Eastern philosophy has a lot of beautiful lessons to share with us on this exact subject. Where accepting the chaos of the world and accepting that we are not in control of most things, including the way that we need to evolve and adapt in order to survive, to be a better version of ourselves, in order to grow.


00:31:04 But even in order to beat ourselves is necessary, right? And I love that the whole personality isn't a stagnant thing because there's a lot of studies that say personality kind of levels out. Around 27, I believe is the age. And although it may level out because of course we're reaching age of adulthood, maybe societal factors around that age are often common with most people where they seem to finally be security in job or security in home, security in family, all of those different types of things. But it doesn't mean that you stop growing or stop changing.


00:31:44 There's been a lot of recent studies, too, talking about the learning, which is a big part of personality, if you ask me, because these studies showing that, oh, you can learn new languages as you get older and you can be an old dog learning new trick here's. All of the neuroplasticity research here to support this is kind of almost debunking. Some of these myths that I find can be used as excuses to justify certain types of behaviors or habitual responses that a lot of people may not want to put in the work to change.


00:32:20 It's a way of kind of understanding that, yeah, personality is in flux and it doesn't mean that you're wrong or broken. It's human. It is human to grow. It is human to change.


00:32:34 We've mentioned earlier how experiential rationalization refers to the process of limiting or restricting oneself from certain experiences or emotions. This can contribute to emotional rigidity and insecurity because it prevents us from fully engaging with our emotions and experiences. And it can lead to a narrow or limited perspective on life, seeing ourselves in a new light. It's scary at times, right? And it can even be downright frightening to push back into the distant past to revisit parts of us we shoved back into those hidden corners.


00:33:07 Me, I've battled those demons. Having experienced rejection or failure in the past. We may rationalize our experiences of vulnerability or risk taking in order to avoid the pain of those past experiences, emotionally numbing them and keeping them hidden behind our masks. This can lead to emotional rigidity because we become stuck in a pattern of avoiding certain emotions or experiences which can prevent us from learning and growing, and as a result, we become stuck in our patterns of perception. Experiential rationalization can also contribute to insecurity because it can lead to a lack of confidence and self esteem.


00:33:45 When we limit ourselves from certain experiences or emotions, we may begin to believe that we are not capable of worthy of experiencing them or even experiencing better, more productive outcomes. This can lead to a cycle of self doubt and self sabotage, as we may avoid opportunities or situations that can lead to our own sense of growth and personal fulfillment. In order to overcome emotional rigidity and insecurity, it's important to challenge our beliefs and attitudes about ourselves and our experiences. This can involve practicing self compassion and self care, seeking constructive feedback from others, while gradually exposing ourselves to new experiences and emotions in a safe and supportive environment. By doing so, we can develop greater emotional flexibility and resilience and cultivate a more secure sense of self.


00:34:35 Outside influences, such as the people and environments around us, they can have a significant impact on the development of our volition and emotional self regulation. These influences can either be beneficial or adverse, depending on a variety of factors. Beneficial outside influences can include positive role models, supportive relationships, and environments that encourage self reflection and personal growth. These influences can help us to develop a strong sense of self and the ability to regulate our emotions in a healthy and adaptive way. For example, having a mentor who models effective self regulation strategies can be incredibly beneficial in helping us learn how to manage our emotions in challenging situations.


00:35:21 On the other hand, adverse outside influences can include negative role models, unsupportive relationships, and environments that promote unhealthy behaviors or attitudes. These influences can hinder our ability to develop strong volition and emotional self regulation skills. Also, as an example, growing up in an environment where aggression and violence are normalized often makes it more difficult for an individual to learn how to regulate their own anger and respond to conflict in a nonviolent way. It's worth noting that outside influences are not the only factor that influences the development of volition and emotional selfregulation. Genetic and biological factors, as well as individual experiences and personal choices, also play a significant role.


00:36:09 The quality of outside influences we experience can have a profound impact on our ability to develop strong volition and emotional selfregulation skills. Seeking out positive influences and working to mitigate the impact of negative ones can be an important part of personal growth and development. Questioning is crucial both within your own self awareness and within the feedback from others. Asking questions allows us to gain insight into our own thoughts and actions, as well as giving us perspectives from those around us. Overall, experiential rationalization is an effective strategy for expanding our decision making experience.


00:36:48 However, it can also lead us to make detrimental decisions without considering a broader range of possible outcomes. By being more aware of these cognitive biases, we can avoid falling victim to this process and more objectively evaluate the information in front of us. By making an effort to consider both the good and bad of our decisions, we can make better choices in the future. Or as researchers at MIT put it, looking at the big picture forces you to confront reality. Our unconscious behavior patterns and decisions affect every area of our lives.


00:37:26 We hope you found value and meaning in today's episode. If you did, please share us with a friend or loved one. And as always, we're grateful for you, our valued listening community. This has been the light inside. I'm Jeffreyrey Besecker.


Kate DudzikProfile Photo

Kate Dudzik

Cognitive Scientist/Dreamer

About Kate
Kate Dudzik has been researching, writing, and exploring themes in Cognitive Science since 2014. She earned both her Bachelor Degree (Honours) and Master’s Degree in Cognitive Science from the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University, where she specialised in the Biological Foundations of Cognition and Agent-Based Cognitive Modelling. She took a non-conventional route to becoming a Scientist, and to this day, does not have a high school diploma.

Kate is a peer-reviewed, published scientist with work spanning multiple disciplines, from Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics (Springer), to Computer Science (Elsevier); published at both academic conferences in Cognitive Science and the Digital Humanities. In addition to her scientific research, Kate has designed Artificial Intelligence products in private industry, has written multiple articles for industry about digital technology and human interaction, and presented to multiple groups including CIMA/CGMA about understanding digital technology, how it impacts thoughts and behaviour, and best practices in the field.

Her research and work includes:
- The Relationship between Humans and Technology
- Cognition, Natural and Artificial Forms
- Thought Structures and Mechanisms
- Cognitive and Behavioral Modeling

Beyond science, Kate loves to discuss Popular Culture, life in the Digital Age, and Gender and Identity.