When we’re young, we often get scolded for self-control issues.

If you spit vitriol at others, you’re told to “hold your tongue”. If you cry in public, you’re told to “control your temper”. And so on.

The logic is something as follows:

  1. You often want to do things that offend others.
  2. If you offend others, they won’t like you.
  3. If others don’t like you, then you’ll be miserable and lonely.
  4. You can use self-control to offend others less often.
  5. Thus, if you don’t want to be miserable and lonely, use self-control to avoid offending others.

It’s not very formal, but I actually think the logic is sound enough — if you want to be likable, then don’t do unlikable things!

But I’m starting to think that there are unintended consequences from living this way.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s good to be considerate of others. But if you suppress behaviors with self-control, when do your “bad” desires ever get addressed? I know that there’s a camp that says “fake it ‘til you make it”, but I’m not so convinced anymore.

I hate exercising, but I do it anyway. Why? Because I want to be healthy and attractive and whatever. I have a "higher" desire that I use to supercede my "baser" desires.