How to detach yourself from the if...then mentality?

I remember I wanted to go back to Mumbai because I assumed that if I go back there, I’ll be happy. I remember feeling upset and sad about the fact that I wasn’t there and living here in Chennai. Due to which I honestly couldn’t enjoy the city the way I should have.

But over the past few years I feel comfortable and so much at home than I ever have. I’ve connected with the place and I must say I feel happy and relaxed to be in Chennai.



The if... then mentality is one of the most common reasons of unhappiness and sadness. We as humans have dreams and wishes and when our dreams and wishes aren’t fulfilled, we feel sad or experiences sadness. Every dream or wish that we have is conditional and directly proportionate to happiness. This gives rise to too many expectations.


Happiness is one of the primary emotions but we don’t really need a reason to be happy. We can be happy even without anything eventful happening. I’ve heard this time and again and I’m sure you have too. Happiness is a state of mind. It’s a choice. But in my opinion, I believe happiness is what it is, an emotion. We experience it just the way we experience other emotions.


So, what happens? Why can’t we fully embrace it and experience it?


I’d like to believe that as kids we were conditioned with the if…then mentality.

  • “If you eat this, then you can play”

  • “If you do your homework, then you’ll get that chocolate”

  • “If you behave, then you’ll get to go out”

So, every wish or desire that we had was followed with a condition that needed to be met in order to fulfill our dreams. We’ve been following suit even as adults.

  • “If I’m thin, then I’ll feel confident”

  • “If I have a successful job, then I’ll be respected”

  • “If I’m smart, then I’ll be taken more seriously”

  • “If I’m in a relationship, then I’ll feel worthy”

  • “If I have money, then I’ll be happy”

  • “If I live in this particular country/city, then I’ll be happy”

The problem with having an if…then mentality is that its never enough. We always want more. Having an if…then mentality can create a lot of blockages in our lives and our growth such as –


  • Comparison

  • Insecurity

  • Jealousy

  • Lack of enthusiasm

  • Lack of confidence

  • Feeling unworthy

To name just a few…


How can we overcome this mentality?


Its natural and normal to want more in life and want the best in life. In time we do receive all that we need and want but with the attachment of an if…then mentality we tend to create a lot of pressure and stress on us. A healthy way to look at this is to cultivate a new mindset each time we tend to fixate on an if…then mentality.


  1. Try to understand your expectations – What we expect versus reality may slightly differ in that moment. Let’s say you want a great physique but you’ve just started to work out you cannot to have a change overnight, with regular and consistent practice you will get the physique you’ve aimed for. Let’s say you’re a business owner and you’ve just started out you can expect the business to grow slowly but in order to see some result it doesn’t mean you should work obsessively. Setting realistic expectations can be a mindful, pragmatic and smart decision. The more realistic our expectations are the less disappointed you feel.

  2. Complain less, work smart – Its normal to feel disappointed when we don’t get what we want. It’s okay to feel bad about it but if we slowly start to complain a lot more than usual then that can not only steal our happiness but also make us feel less energetic and drained out. The best thing to do in such a situation is to focus on the next steps, take a different approach, change our perspective and find a solution that will help us get one step closer to your dreams.

  3. Don’t climb the comparison express – This is a common trait but its important to remember that comparing our self to someone is not only unhealthy but also unnecessary. We all have different journeys, mindsets, values, capacities. Your journey will never be the same as mine and my journey doesn’t have to be the same as the other person’s. Comparing teaches us that we’re still trying to understand our place in the world and that’s okay as long as we make an effort and try to find it.

  4. The not good enough mentality – Perfection is a strong term that has the power and capacity to make us feel unhappy at any given moment in life. I remember when imperfection hit my life like a storm I tried and tried to be perfect just get it right and I failed miserably, along with exhaustion, burnout so much so that I needed some much-needed physical rest for days. It’s okay to want to improve or excel at something but it cannot happen from a place of insecurity and fear or not being good enough.

  5. Appreciate and value – Gratitude is such an important part of our daily lives. We do say it as often but don’t necessarily mean it completely. The most important tool to overcome the if…then problem is by appreciating more of what we already have. Even if its small and simple and not the way we want it or liked it, its still there in some way. When we add value and meaning to life, it allows us to dream bigger and better. It allows us to receive easily and we feel worthy and connected.

  6. Set your Intentions – The why-power is a game changer when we feel this way. It’s important to pause and reflect on the intention we have behind this wish/desire/want. Is it correlating with our values, with our ideas, our passion? Reassessing our why-power can help us refocus and help us re energize.

  7. Let it Breathe – You cannot make something happen your way if you obsess over it. We need to slow down and let it breathe. Take it one day at a time and keep at it. Obsessing over something makes us feel insecure, we tend to lose our confidence, our focus and it makes us feel miserable. When we give our self the permission to breathe and relax we see changes, we get clarity, we start to achieve, we feel confident and relaxed.

You can achieve all that you want without having an if…then mentality.

Being in the present, embracing the present doesn’t necessarily mean you’re leaving out on something. Probably you’ll revisit it at a later stage in life, where you’ll be better. You can always archive a wish or desire and with better clarity you’ll know if whether you’re good-to-go ahead or need to shelve it.


Having a go-go attitude is how we live in today’s time. We are constantly racing, we want to live a life that someone else is living, there are way too many restrictions and so much pressure. Taking some time off to pause, breathe and rethink will help you make better decisions, attract better and improve your quality of life.


I hope this article helps you or gives you a different perspective towards the if…then mentality. If you liked this article please go ahead and like it and share it with people who may benefit from it.


If you’d like to get some more clarity and time off from the hustle, take a look at these e-products that you may find useful.

If you’d like to delve further and go for some clarity and transformation, I’d love to work with you.

Image by Annie Spratt

Work with ME