The If-Then Voice

There is a little voice in my head that likes to make connections between totally unrelated things. I call it the if-then voice, because this is its favourite line.

If you don’t do that – then this will happen, OR, if you do that – then this will be the result.

It likes to predict the outcome, does the if-then voice. It likes to consider any action – or non action – in terms of what will come next and in line with its own, mysterious, agenda, which is mostly around controlling me.

If-then is into a control in a big way. It’s not a nice, consequential kind of statement: it’s an ominous threat. It’s not concerned with accountability: it’s all about obedient submission. If-then likes to make me sweat –

If you eat that, then you’ll put on weight.

If you put on weight, then you’ll be nobody.

If you say that, then everyone will hate you.

From what I can work out, if-then first made an appearance when my eating disorder started. It was the voice that shouted when I was tempted to eat and in charge of keeping me on the straight and narrow, of making sure that I didn’t ‘lapse’.

Over the years, if-then has extended its remit to include virtually anything. Sometimes the links are logical, but most of the time they’re tenuous, at best, and ridiculous, if you’re totally objective.

If you don’t check your handbrake, then you’ll die tonight.

If you don’t have a clove of garlic in the fridge, then something bad will happen.

If you wear that, then you’ll crash your car.

See what I mean? Yet I’m still a little scared.

This is, of course, what if-then relies on. It keeps me under the thumb, so to speak, and means that I don’t eat that and I do check my handbrake and I go out and buy a clove of garlic, just in case….And, in return for my obedience, I feel like I’m keeping safe – and doing the right thing – and being in control, which is what it’s all about –

Recently, if-then has been getting on my nerves. I am finding myself, increasingly, at loggerheads with its logic and struggling to wrest myself from its control. Checking my handbrake a million times will only ensure that it’s on – and not that I’ll wake up tomorrow morning; and, unless I’m wearing killer stilettos, then I very much doubt that my outfit will determine my car safety.

It has made everything far more complicated than it really is and me, far more responsible than I could possibly be –

So I think I’d like to step out of the if-then shadow, over the next few months, and see if the world comes crashing down if I ignore its commands. And I might try trusting myself, for a while, rather than faltering in agreement and scurrying around on inane missions–

So, I’m going to do the one thing that will really upset if-then, and take away punishments, and allow for errors, and appreciate the fact that things aren’t always under my control; and I’m going to chop the then off, and see what happens –


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2 Responses to “The If-Then Voice”

  1. Ah, the if-then bugaboo! If I trust then I will be totally f***ed. Again. Irritating to say the least. Our problem right now is that so many splinters still believe the Furies (our autocratic mechanism
    for keeping things in line and in contro thru punishment). Good for you for looking at this and for fighting back.

  2. melissa says:

    You’ve just made me realise – trust is at the heart of this and something I probably need to look at. Not trusting others, not trusting nature, and, most powerfully, not even trusting myself…
    Maybe I need to fight the distrust voice too?!