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Explaining why something that’s wrong is really okay. When an action or situation is definitely wrong somehow, but the person can’t admit it or is trying to make themselves feel better about it or something like that. It’s a way of making excuses for a wrongness.


Anna showed up late to work. In fact, she’s late pretty often. This puts a burden on co-workers. When Anna’s boss tries to talk to her about it, she says things like, “Well, I live really far from work, so it’s hard to predict traffic.” She tells herself it’s not important to be on time because she always stays late so she’s making up for it. Those are simply justifications she makes rather than taking the effort needed to get to work on time.

Brent cheated on his girlfriend. He tells himself it’s ok because she’s gained a few pounds. Plus he thinks she might have cheated on him a while back, so he tells himself it’s only fair for him to cheat back. Rather than use communication to tackle whatever isn’t working in their relationship, Brent is coming up with justifications to explain away his bad behavior.

Alicia’s toddler Gary started biting other children on the playground and at preschool, Alicia ignores teachers’ and other parents’ pleas to do something about it and tells them it’s just a phase he’ll outgrow . Because Gary doesn’t get any parenting to figure out why he’s biting or to let him know he shouldn’t bite others, he continues acting out. Alicia is justifying Gary’s alarming behavior.

(HCOB 22 Jul 63)

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