The law of reversed effort

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The Law of Reversed Effort, also known as the Law of Reverse Effect or the Backwards Law, is a concept that suggests the harder we consciously try to do something, the less successful we are likely to be12345. This law was first coined by the author Aldous Huxley, who stated, "The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed"19. This law is based on the idea that our conscious and subconscious minds often conflict, and in such cases, the subconscious mind usually prevails25. For instance, when we try to remember something, the harder we consciously try, the more difficult it becomes. However, when we stop trying, we often remember3. Similarly, the more we consciously try to fall asleep, the harder it becomes to do so. But when we stop trying, we often fall asleep3. The Law of Reversed Effort is not suggesting that effort is unnecessary or counterproductive. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of balance between conscious action and subconscious response3. It suggests that optimal performance requires a paradoxical combination of doing and non-doing, effort and relaxation3. This state of balance is often referred to as the "flow state," where actions become fluent and the individual becomes one with the activity3. In practical terms, this law can be leveraged by using the conscious mind to determine a goal (the result) and the subconscious mind to pursue the goal (the process)3. For example, in sports, when motor skills are automated enough (muscle memory has been established), trying really hard to hit the ball or stick the dismount can actually have the reversed effect and make performance worse2. In summary, the Law of Reversed Effort suggests that the more we consciously try to succeed at something, the less we are likely to succeed. It emphasizes the importance of balance between conscious effort and subconscious response, and suggests that optimal performance is achieved when this balance is maintained3.
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