No matter what defence mechanism is being utilised, they all have the same purpose. And that is to stop one from being overwhelmed by what they are experiencing. They are used when the pain that is arising is too much for someone to handle.
And as pain is part of life and therefore can’t be avoided, they are always going to be times when it is necessary to use a defence mechanism or a number of them, in order to survive the challenges of life. If a defence mechanism is used and one is not aware of it, it can result in one avoiding responsibility; either in a specific situation or as a way of life.
There are some that are classed as more functional than others and there will be moments when using them will lead to even more problems. So they have a time and a place and to use them during certain moments could start to create problems in ones life.
So justification is no different to any other defence mechanism and when it is used during certain occasions it is unlikely to create too much trouble for someone. What will be the key factor is how one applies justification.
As when justification is used, it typically relates to a situation where some kind of moral standpoint is being taken and whether something is right or wrong. And there all kinds of examples of how justification is used in everyday life and by people in the public eye.
One of the common challenges in today’s world is the so called ‘entitlement mentality’. Here, one can expect things simply for being alive and for existing. It is not a case of them having to earn what they want or to put any effort into achieving anything. And while certain societies have adapted to this outlook and therefore support it, there is only so much they can do.
So when it comes to someone not having what they want, due to society not giving it them for instance, one approach is for someone to steal what they want. One could then be charged or found out and say that what they did was right because they had no other way of getting it. The behaviour then becomes justified in their eyes.
While most people would say that cheating in a relationship is wrong, it doesn’t mean that it will stop them from doing it. To have this outlook at an intellectual level it is one thing, but if one is not emotionally stable for example, right and wrong can go out of the window.
This means that when someone does cheat and they knew it was wrong to begin with, guilt and shame is likely to appear and this guilt or shame will need to be dealt with someone. If one takes responsibility for it, then justification might not be used. But if responsibility is not taken, ones inner angst could be dealt with by justifying the behaviour.
And this process could become so natural and habitual that the inner pain could soon become disconnected and unknown to the person who cheats. As soon as it arises, a kind of conditioned reflex takes over to cut out the pain.
Perhaps one could say that the person they went with didn’t mean anything or that their partner cheated to, so that makes it fair. Or that their partner has not been attentive enough and so they had to get the attention from somewhere.
If one were to see a dog or cat in a vehicle during a hot day and suffering as a result, one approach would be to break into the car and let the dog out to cool down. Under normal circumstances this would be wrong as one would be going onto another’s personal property.
And yet their behaviour could be justified in this context as they were making sure the animal didn’t die in the car. Of course some people could still say this was wrong and reject the view that is was justified.
These are just some examples of how justification can be used. In some situations it will be appropriate and in others it will have the potential to create problems in one’s life and cause them to avoid taking responsibility for their own behaviour.
If one is using justification during moments when they should be taking responsibility, it might be necessary to seek the assistance of a therapist or a healer to look a little deeper. One can then gradually face what they are avoiding in a safe environment and begin to act in ways that are more conscious.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.