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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.

      More by this author

      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 November 5, 2019

      How to Memorize a Speech the Smart Way

      How to Memorize a Speech the Smart Way

      Did you know that 75% of the population suffers from glossophobia? That scary sounding word is one of the most common phobia’s in the world, fear of public speaking.

      I’ll bet even as you are reading this, you are getting nervous thinking about giving a speech.

      I have got good news for you. In this article, I will share with you a step by step method on how to memorize a speech the smart way. Once you have this method down, your confidence in yourself to deliver a successful speech will increase substantially. Read on to feel well prepared the next time you have to memorize and deliver a speech.

      Common Mistakes of Memorizing a Speech

      Before we get to the actual process of how to memorize a speech the smart way, let’s look at the two most common mistakes many of us tend to make while preparing for a speech.

      Complete Memorization

      In an attempt to ensure they remember every detail, many people aim to completely memorize their speech. They practice it over and over until they have every single word burned into their brain.

      In many ways, this is understandable because most of us are naturally frightened of having to give a speech. When the time comes, we want to be completely and totally prepared and not make any mistakes.

      While this makes a lot of sense, it also comes with its own negative side. The downside to having your speech memorized word for word is that you sound like a robot when delivering the speech. You become so focused on remembering every single part that you lose the ability to inflect your speech to varying degrees, and free form the talk a bit when the situation warrants.

      Lack of Preparation

      The other side of the coin to complete memorization is people who don’t prepare enough. Because they don’t want to come off sounding like a robot, they decide they will mostly “wing it”.

      Sometimes they will write a few main points down on a piece of paper to remind themselves. They figure once they get going, the details will somehow fill themselves in under the big talking points while they are doing the talking.

      The problem is that unless this is a topic you know inside and out and have spoken on it many times, you’ll wind up missing key points. It’s almost a given that as soon as you are done with your speech, you’ll remember many things you should have brought up while talking.

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      There’s a good balance to be had between over and under preparing. Let’s now look at how to memorize a speech the smart way.

      How to Memorize a Speech (Step-by-Step Guide)

      1. Write Out Your Speech

      The first step in the process is to simply write out your speech.

      Many people like to write out the entire speech. Other people are more inclined to write their speech outline style. Whichever way your brain works best is the way you should write your speech.

      Personally, I like to break things down into the primary points I want to make, and then back up each major point with several details. Because my mind works this way, I tend to write out speeches, and articles for that matter, by doing an outline.

      Once I have the outline completed, I will then fill in several bullet points to back up each big topic.

      For instance, if I was going to give a speech on how to get in better shape my outline would look something like this:

      Benefits of being in shape

      • Point #1
      • Point #2
      • Point #3

      Exercise

      • Point #1
      • Point #2
      • Point #3

      Diet

      • Point #1
      • Point #2
      • Point #3

      Rest and hydration

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      • Point #1
      • Point #2
      • Point #3

      ConclusionNo need for points here, just a few sentences wrapping things up.

      As you might imagine, this step typically is the hardest because it’s not only the first step but it also involves the initial creation of the speech.

      2. Rehearse Your Speech

      Now that you’ve written your speech, or outline, it’s time to start saying it out loud. It’s completely fine to simply read what you’ve written line by line at this point. What you are working on doing is getting the outline and getting a feel for the speech.

      If you’ve written the entire speech out, you’ll be editing it while you are rehearsing it. Many times as we say things out loud, we realize that what we wrote needs to be changed and altered. This is how we work towards having a well rounded and smooth speech. Feel free to change things as needed while you are rehearsing your speech.

      If you are like me and you’ve written the outline, this is where some of the supporting bullet points will begin to come out. Normally, I will have written several bullet points under each main topic. But as I say it out loud, I will begin to fill in more and more details. I might scratch certain bullet points and add others. I might think of something new at this stage while I am listening to myself and want to add it.

      The key to remember here is that you laying the foundation for your awesome speech. At this point, it’s a work in progress, you are getting the key pieces in place.

      3. Memorize the Bigger Parts

      As you are rehearsing your speech, you want to focus on memorizing the bigger parts, or the main points.

      Going back to my example of how to get in better shape, I’d want to ensure I have memorized my primary points. These include the benefits of being in shape, exercise, diet, rest and hydration, and the conclusion. These are the main points I want to make and I will then fill in further details. I’ve got to ensure I know these very well first and foremost.

      By practicing your major points, you are building the framework for your speech. After you have this solid outline in place, you’ll continue by adding in the details to round things out.

      4. Fill In the Details

      Now that you have the big chunks memorized, it’s time to work on memorizing the details. These detail points will provide support and context for your major points. You can work on this all at once or break it down to the details that support each major point.

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      For example, the details I might have under the “exercise” big point might include such things as cardio, weights, how many times a week to exercise, how long to actually exercise, and several examples of actual exercises. In this example, I have 5 detail points to memorize to support my major point of “exercise”.

      It’s a good idea to test yourself regularly as you are rehearsing your speech. Ask yourself:

      What are the 5 detail points I want to talk about that support my 3rd main point?

      You need to be able to fire those off quickly. Until you can do this, you won’t be able to associate each of the details with the main point.

      You have to be able to have them grouped together in your mind so that it comes out naturally in your speech. So that when you think of main point #2, you automatically think of the 4 supporting details associated with it.

      Keep working at this stage until you can run through your speech completely several times and remember all of your big points and the supporting details.

      Once you can do that with relative ease, it will be time for the final step, working on your delivery.

      5. Work on Your Delivery

      You’ve got the bulk of the work done now. You’ve written your speech and rehearsed enough times to have not only your main points memorized but also your supporting details. In short, you should have your speech almost done.

      There’s one more step in how to memorize a speech the smart way. The final component is to work on how you deliver your speech.

      For the most part, you can go give your speech now. After all, you have it memorized. If you want to ensure you do it right, you’ll want to hone how you are delivering your speech.

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      You work on your delivery by rehearsing and running through it a number of times and making tweaks along the way. These tweaks or changes may be are’s where you’d want to pause for effect.

      If you’ve found you have used one word 5 times in one paragraph, you might want to swap it out for a similar word a few times to keep it fresh.

      Sometimes while working on this part, I’ve thought of a great story that’s happened to me that I can incorporate to make my point even better.

      When you work on your delivery, you are basically giving your speech a personality as well.

      The Bottom Line

      And there you have it, a step by step approach on how to memorize a speech the smart way.

      The next time you are asked to give a speech don’t let glossophobia rear its familiar head. Instead, remember this easy to use guide to help craft a powerful speech.

      Using the method shown here will help you deliver your next speech with increased confidence.

      More About Public Speaking

      Featured photo credit: Anna Sullivan via unsplash.com

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