Blog Post: How Well Do You Think Through Implications?

Linda Elder
Jul 25, 2021 • 54d ago
How Well Do You Think Through Implications?

{"ops":[{"insert":"All thinking has an internal dynamic. It leads somewhere and, when acted upon, has consequences. You can’t be a critical thinker if you are insensitive to the many implications inherent in your thinking. Likewise, you can’t be a critical thinker if you ignore the consequences in your life that follow from the thinking that is driving your thinking. Focus on where your thinking is leading you.\n \nWhat are some important consequences of…\n"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• …the food you eat (and the food you don’t eat)?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• …the amount of exercise you do?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• …how you spend your time?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• …the emotions you feed and those you ignore?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• …fear, anger, envy, and jealousy in your life?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"When you consider the implications of what you might do before you do it, you explicitly choose (insofar as you can) the consequences that happen when you act. Some people simply don’t imagine what will or might follow when they act on a decision they have made. They smoke cigarettes but are unprepared for lung problems. They don’t exercise but are unprepared for muscle deterioration. They don’t actively develop their minds but are unprepared for the increasing inflexibility and close-mindedness that come with aging when one fails to do this. They don’t realize that everything they do has implications. They don’t realize that it is possible to make a habit of thinking through the implications of decisions before acting, and thus learn to act more wisely, to live more rationally. Critical, reflective thinkers actively consider the implications of their actions before acting and modify their behavior accordingly (before they experience negative consequences).\n \nNot only are there implications for your decisions, but implications are embedded in what you say, in the words you decide to use. That is, the way you use language implies specific things. For example, if you say to your wife, in a loud and angry tone, “Why the hell didn’t you do the dishes?,” you imply, at a minimum:\n \n• She should have done the dishes."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• She knows that she should have done the dishes."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• She knew you would be upset if she didn’t do the dishes."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• In the future, under similar circumstances, she better do the dishes unless she wants you to get angry and shout at her."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nBecause implications are connected with or follow from everything you say, choose your words carefully. Before you say anything, be sure you have thought through the implications of your words. Resolve to use language with care and precision.\n \nBe on the lookout for…\n \n… implications of decisions or potential decisions—your decisions and those of others. Look on the surface for obvious implications. Look beneath the surface for less-obvious implications. Notice the implications of what you say. Look closely at the consequences of your actions. Make a list of all the significant implications of a potential decision before acting. Notice when others fail to think through implications. Look for examples in the news. Notice that some decisions have insignificant results, whereas others (such as the decision not to get a vaccination during a public health crisis) lead to deadly results and damaged lives. Look for opportunities to help others think through implications (your children or your significant other, for example, or your colleagues or employees).\n \nStrategies for thinking through implications:\n \n• Look at your life as a set of moment-to-moment options. At any moment, you can do X, Y, or Z. Every act, and every pattern of actions, has outcomes. What outcomes do you want? What must you do to anticipate likely outcomes? The answer is to become a student of your own behavior, reflect on the likely outcomes of possible decisions, and make your decisions more mindfully."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• When faced with a difficult problem, make a list of the likely implications of dealing with the problem in various ways. Then act in the way that is likely to lead to the best outcome in the circumstances."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• Think about the implications (for future health and happiness) of the way you are now living your life. Make a list of the implications you probably will face if you continue to live as you are. Will you be satisfied with those implications? Concentrate  on the likely negative implications of your habits."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• Carefully observe the language you use when framing your thoughts. Note what is implied by what you say. Note also what is implied by what others say. How do others react to what you say to them? Make a commitment to carefully choose your words before speaking to others—be aware of what you might imply."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nQuestions you should ask to target implications:\n\n• If I decide to do X, what is likely to happen?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• If I decide not to do X, what is likely to happen?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• If we make this decision in this relationship, what are the likely implications? What were the consequences when we made similar decisions before?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• What are the implications of ignoring a specific problem (for example, in an intimate relationship or in parenting)?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"• If I keep living in the present as I have in the past, what consequences will I likely face?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"[This blog piece was adapted from "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"30 Days to Better Thinking and Better Living"},{"insert":" by Linda Elder and Richard Paul, 2013, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, p.. 87-89)\n"}]}

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