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The Law of Reversed Effort

The Law of Reversed Effort

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone”. – Alan Watts

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    Lately, I have been thinking about The Law of Reversed Effort.

    Simply put, the harder we work at something the less effective we are.

    A great example of this is the insomniac. Sleep is an entirely subconscious process, and ‘willing’ yourself to or ‘trying’ to sleep has exactly the opposite effect. The more you think about sleeping and tell yourself to ‘get’ to sleep, the more awake you become.

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    Or think about it this way, when you are swimming, if you want to float what happens? You start to drift and sink. If you want to sink and push down, your body fights against you to push you back toward the surface. If you want to sink, you float.

    This law exists because our conscious mind and our unconscious mind are often in conflict, and the unconscious mind wins. Why? Because it is our protector and it is rarely rational. The french psychologist, Émile Coué, defined the law of reversed effort and said:

    “When the imagination and will power are in conflict, are antagonistic, it is always the imagination which wins, without any exception”.

    Imagine if I laid a board on the ground and asked you to walk on it. You would do it without reservation, right? After all, it is just a board and to walk on it from one end to another is no problem at all. You can consciously tell your body to do it and it will.

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    But what if we took that same board to the top of the highest two buildings in your city? I placed one end of the board on the tip of building one, and the other end on the tip of building two. Now I ask the same of you: will you walk over the board? It is the exact same physical action as before. One foot in front of the other, just walk down the board. But your unconscious mind will fight you with everything it has. You will be scared, anxious, afraid to fall, and the more you try to “will” yourself to not feel this way the worse it will get.

    See, you have no more a chance of stepping off the board in the air as you did on the ground, but your mind imagines all sorts of scary scenarios and stops you from being able to complete the task.

    “The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. We cannot make ourselves understand; the most we can do is to foster a state of mind, in which understanding may come to us”. – Aldous Huxley (The Law of Reversed Effort)

    So how does this affect our everyday lives?

    I can tell you from personal experience that I fall prey to this on a daily basis. I am a real estate teacher and coach by day (which I love and have a passion for) and a writer/speaker/community organizer by dream. But why by dream? I have always wanted to write, have always felt like I had something to say. My conscious mind says “I can do that. I can share, speak and write” but then what happens? My unconscious mind for years has sabotaged it with doubt, and insecurity, and fear. My imagination of what may go wrong was stronger than my will to make it happen.

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    It was not until I completely let go as a person and started to blend relaxation with activity that I was able to write and speak and share. I have a very long way to go. Enlightenment is not a destination but a journey. At best, I am hoping to just stop fighting myself. 

    Is some form of this happening in your life right now? The agents that I coach have amazing talent. They are wonderful people whose stories are compelling, genuine, and true. Yet, many are hindered by self-doubt. Their conscious mind has set a goal and their unconscious mind sets out to sabotage that goal.

    Take a moment and take stock of yourself. Are you continuing to fight this fight?

    Émile Coué says:

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    “The solution for this fear, is to relax, to let go and to think about relaxing things that can provide us with the confident feeling. From this confident feeling, when we feel fresh and secure, we can, easily deal with anything that will appear less threatening.”

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      Relax and let go. Stop fighting yourself. Smile. Remember the last time you took a test? You study and study, your stress and anxiety building until the moment you sit down and then….poof. You go blank. The harder you search your brain for the answers, the less you can remember. What happens when you walk out of the room? An hour later, when the pressure is off and you are relaxed, you remember everything.

      The negative thoughts are apt to be more effective than the positive because the negative usually has more feeling with it.

      Take your goal into contemplation and focus on relaxing, letting go of the negative feelings associated with not achieving this goal. Set up a positive image about the goal, then put feeling with it. Nothing is simple, but everything is worth trying.

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      Glenn Killey

      Author, Motivational Speaker, Mindset Coach

      What Is Your Defining Mental Picture? What My Teenage Daughter Taught Me About Simplicity What An 86 Year Old Man Can Teach Us About Procrastination The Randomness of Life: 3 Steps to Take Back Control The Law of Reversed Effort

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      Last Updated on October 29, 2018

      What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

      What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

      Brain fog is more of a symptom than a medical condition itself, but this doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Brain fog is a cognitive dysfunction, which can lead to memory problems, lack of mental clarity and an inability to focus.

      Many often excuse brain fog for a bad day, or get so used to it that they ignore it. Unfortunately, when brain fog is ignored it ends up interfering with work and school. The reason many ignore it is because they aren’t fully aware of what causes it and how to deal with it.

      It’s important to remember that if your brain doesn’t function fully — nothing else in your life will. Most people have days where they can’t seem to concentrate or forget where they put their keys.

      It’s very normal to have days where you can’t think clearly, but if you’re experiencing these things on a daily basis, then you’re probably dealing with brain fog for a specific reason.

      So what causes brain fog? It can be caused by a string of things, so we’ve made a list things that causes brain fog and how to prevent it and how to stop it.

      1. Stress

      It’s no surprise that we’ll find stress at the top of the list. Most people are aware of the dangers of stress. It can increase blood pressure, trigger depression and make us sick as it weakens our immune system.

      Another symptom is mental fatigue. When you’re stressed your brain can’t function at its best. It gets harder to think and focus, which makes you stress even more.

      Stress can be prevented by following some simple steps. If you’re feeling stressed you should avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine — even though it may feel like it helps in the moment. Two other important steps are to indulge in more physical activities and to talk to someone about it.

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      Besides that, you can consider keeping a stress diary, try relaxation techniques like mediation, getting more sleep and maybe a new approach to time management.

      2. Diet

      Most people know that the right or wrong diet can make them gain or loss weight, but not enough people think about the big impact a specific diet can have on one’s health even if it might be healthy.

      One of the most common vitamin deficiencies is vitamin B12 deficiency and especially vegans can be get hid by brain fog, because their diet often lacks the vitamin B-12. The vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to mental and neurological disorders.

      The scary thing is that almost 40 % of adults are estimated to lack B12 in their diet. B12 is found in animal products, which is why many vegans are in B12 deficiency, but this doesn’t mean that people need animal products to prevent the B12 deficiency. B12 can be taken as a supplement, which will make the problem go away.

      Another vital vitamin that can cause brain fog is vitamin D. More than 1 billion people worldwide don’t have enough vitamin D in their diet. Alongside B12 and vitamin D is omega-3, which because of its fatty acids helps the brain function and concentrate. Luckily, both vitamin D and omega-3 can be taken as supplements.

      Then there’s of course also the obvious unhealthy foods like sugar. Refined carbohydrates like sugar will send your blood sugar levels up, and then send you right back down. This will lead to brain fog, because your brain uses glucose as its main source of fuel and once you start playing around with your brain — it gets confused.

      Besides being hit by brain fog, you’ll also experience tiredness, mood swings and mental confusion. So, if you want to have clear mind, then stay away from sugar.

      Sometimes the same type of diet can be right for some and wrong for others. If you’re experiencing brain fog it’s a good idea to seek out your doctor or a nutritionist. They can take some tests and help you figure out which type of diet works best for your health, or find out if you’re lacking something specific in your diet.

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      3. Allergies

      If you have food allergies, or are simply a bit sensitive to specific foods, then eating those foods can lead to brain fog. Look out for dairy, peanuts and aspartame that are known to have a bad effect on the brain.

      Most people get their calories from corn, soy and wheat — and big surprise — these foods are some of the most common foods people are allergic to. If you’re in doubt, then you can look up food allergies[1] and find some of the most common symptoms.

      If you’re unsure about being allergic or sensitive, then you can start out by cutting out a specific food from your diet for a week or two. If the brain fog disappears, then you’re most likely allergic or sensitive to this food. The symptoms will usually go away after a week or two once you remove the trigger food from the diet.

      If you still unsure, then you should seek out the help of your doctor.

      4. Lack of sleep

      All of us know we need sleep to function, but it’s different for everybody how much sleep they need. A few people can actually function on as little as 3-4 hours of sleep every night, but these people are very, very rare.

      Most people need 8 to 9 hours of sleep. If you don’t get the sleep you need, then this will interfere with your brain and you may experience brain fog.

      Instead of skipping a few hours of sleep to get ahead of things you need to do, you’ll end up taking away productive hours from your day, because you won’t be able to concentrate and your thoughts will be cloudy.

      Many people have trouble sleeping but you can help improve your sleep by a following a few simple steps.

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      There is the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise, which is a technique that regulates your breath and helps you fall asleep faster. Another well-known technique is to avoid bright lights before you go to sleep.

      A lot of us are guilty of falling asleep with the TV on or with our phone right by us, but the blue lights from these screens suppresses the production of melatonin in our bodies, which actually makes us stay awake longer instead. If you’re having trouble going to sleep without doing something before you close your eyes, then try taking up reading instead.

      If you want to feel more energized throughout the day, start doing this.

      5. Hormonal changes

      Brain fog can be triggered by hormonal changes. Whenever your levels of progesterone and estrogen increases, you may experience short-term cognitive impairment and your memory can get bad.

      If you’re pregnant or going through menopause, then you shouldn’t worry too much if your mind suddenly starts to get a bit cloudy. Focus on keeping a good diet, getting enough of sleep and the brain fog should pass once you’re back to normal.

      6. Medication

      If you’re on some medication, then it’s very normal to start experiencing some brain fog.

      You may start to forget things that you used to be able to remember, or you get easily confused. Maybe you can’t concentrate the same way that you used to. All of these things can be very scary, but you shouldn’t worry too much about it.

      Brain fog is a very normal side effect of drugs, but by lowering your dosage or switching over to another drug; the side effect can’t often be improved and maybe even completely removed.

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      7. Medical condition

      Brain fog can often be a symptom of a medical condition. Medical conditions that include inflammation, fatigue, changes in blood glucose level are known to cause brain fog.

      Conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, anemia, depression, diabetes, migraines, hypothyroidism, Sjögren syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, Lupus and dehydration can all cause brain fog.[2]

      The bottom line

      If you haven’t been diagnosed, then never start browsing around Google for the conditions and the symptoms. Once you start looking for it; it’s very easy to (wrongfully) self-diagnose.

      Take a step back, put away the laptop and relax. If you’re worried about being sick, then always check in with your doctor and take it from there.

      Remember, the list of things that can cause brain fog is long and it can be something as simple as the wrong diet or not enough sleep.

      Featured photo credit: Asdrubal luna via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1]Food Allergy: Common Allergens
      [2]HealthLine: 6 Possible Causes of Brain Fog

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