The Precarious Danger of If/Then Statements

Ever tried to motivate yourself to do something by using this type of logic?

“If I don’t go to the gym/church/class now, then I never will.”

Or, how about, “If I eat this cupcake, then I will HATE myself when I step on the scale tomorrow.”

Ever used some variation of this one? “If I don’t get an A on this test, then I’ll never pass this class >>> graduate >>> get a good job >>> get married >>> have a house >>> become a contributing member of society.”

Though these “little iffers” might seem like logical statements, (except for that last one, which I’m pretty sure is the very definition of a “slippery slope”) they’re usually based on some underlying assumption that the IF is something truly in your control and the THEN is something can can actually be predicted.

Now, I don’t want to nerd you out here–probably too late, I realize–but how can a variable as legendarily unpredictable as human behavior ever really be quantified? Can we really ever say with any level of certainty that sporadic attendance is more of an impediment to continuous committment than overwork and monotony are? If human beings in general are anything like this human being, I submit that we cannot.

And how can we know whether eating a cupcake–or calling in sick to go shopping, or sleeping with someone who is not necessarily a candidate for a stable, long-term relationship–is actually a catalyst for ultimate self-loathing? Maybe it’s more of a hedonistic boost that actually encourages self-esteem in the long run, or a necessary low-point that serves as a favorable comparison for much greater accomplishments in the future. Ever think of that?

I suppose, if you really consider it deeply enough, any cause and effect statement traditionally used to discipline oneself–or one’s children or spouse–can probably be disproven, or at least called into doubt.

(And that, friends, is how you rationalize your way through feeling guilty for doing those naughty little things you’ve always wanted to do. You’re welcome.)

***Today’s inspirational thought was brought to you by my LSAT study preparations.

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5 thoughts on “The Precarious Danger of If/Then Statements

  1. Dan. Oh, did you not mean that literally? …My bad.

    (You can see how I was super popular in high school, what with my clinical blindness to double entendres.)

  2. Hm…. It’s difficult to say. I know it used to be desire that dominated my motivations back then. Life was pretty much hectic on the good days and manic on the rest. There’s a lot of anxiety in my family, too, so I’ve had to learn to fight that battle.

    I guess today I would have to say that my life is pretty much ruled by two masters: logic, who is a bit of a coldhearted bastard but rarely steers me wrong, and humor–the one bedfellow you forgot, who I firmly believe should always be invited to the party.

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