law of reversed effort

This is a half thought. Perfectly fitting for the topic. I am torn in my head around the benefits or downsides to intentionality. And it all stems from something I read somewhat recently (so I am aware of the potential lingering, well obvious lingering, here).

The Law of Reversed Effort, also known as the “Law of Reversed Effect” or “Backward Law,” suggests that the harder you try to do something, the more difficult it becomes to achieve your desired outcome. Alan Watts I think championed this idea. And the idea has a lot of far-reaching implications around how you (and perhaps society at large) should consider orienting thoughts.

Here are some examples of situations or activities where the Law of Reversed Effort may apply:

  1. Falling asleep: When you’re struggling to fall asleep, the more you consciously try and force yourself to sleep, the more difficult it can become. This is because the effort and anxiety associated with trying to sleep can keep your mind active and alert.
  2. Relaxation: If you’re trying too hard to relax, you may become more stressed and anxious. True relaxation often comes when you let go of the effort and allow yourself to unwind naturally.
  3. Creativity: When you’re trying too hard to be creative or come up with innovative ideas, you can become blocked. Creativity often flourishes when you relax and let your mind wander freely.
  4. Letting go of negative thoughts: When you attempt to forcefully push away negative thoughts or emotions, they tend to persist. It’s often more effective to acknowledge and accept them without resistance, which can lead to their natural release.
  5. Improving certain skills: In some cases, excessive effort can impede your progress when trying to learn a new skill or improve in a particular area. For example, if you’re learning to play a musical instrument, trying too hard can lead to tension and poor performance. Learning may be more effective when you relax and let the skill develop naturally.
  6. Being yourself: Trying too hard to be someone you’re not, or to conform to others’ expectations, can lead to feelings of inauthenticity and inner conflict. Authenticity often comes from being true to yourself and letting go of the effort to fit a particular mold.
  7. Social interactions: In social situations, attempting to impress others or make a good impression can backfire. Authentic and genuine interactions often occur when you relax and be yourself.

The Law of Reversed Effort essentially suggests that in many situations, the best results are achieved when you relax, let go of excessive effort, and allow things to unfold naturally.

This doesn’t mean that effort and hard work are always counterproductive, but rather that there’s a balance to be struck between effort and letting go, depending on the context.

So what do you do with this information? Well potentially nothing. But potentially you let it seep a bit into your thoughts. You let it seep and marinate as I am doing and thinking about how I wrestle with this idea. That is where I am at right now — just thinking.






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