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Know The Backwards Law

Backwards Law

I learned how to swim when I was in my early thirties. Swimming was one skill I struggled with learning because I had a mortal fear of drowning !! So despite whatever the swimming coach tried to teach me, for weeks on end, I would always thrash my way to the comfort of the edge of the pool, trying to keep my head above the water. Until, one day, I let myself sink underwater without resistance, and voila- buoyancy kicked in, and I discovered how to float. Very soon, I also learned how to swim.

When I stopped trying to keep myself above water, paradoxically, I learned how to float.

Mark Manson, in his book, The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck introduced me to one of the important laws of life- Backwards Law or the Law of reversed effort- postulated by philosopher Alan Watts.

The Backwards Law suggests that the more we pursue something, the more we experience the opposite of what we desire, and as a consequence, the more dissatisfied we will be. Simply put, the harder we try, the less likely we will succeed. Conversely, the less desperate we become, the more likely we will see the outcome we desire.

I experienced the Backwards Law in play when I was learning how to swim. I did not know of the Law then. 

The Backwards Law plays a significant role in multiple facets of our lives. The more we seek something, the less likely it is we will find it. The more we chase something, the more elusive it becomes.

  • You are disturbed by something happening at work or the home front, and you are overwhelmed by negative thoughts. The more you try to push these negative thoughts, the stronger they become and take control of your mind. Remember the Backwards Law- the more you desire to rid yourself of the negative emotions, the more they will persist. The solution? Just let the thoughts and feelings run their course and dissipate. Time is a natural healer. 
  • You feel like you lack wealth, and you want to make more money. The more you try to feel wealthy and abundant, the more poor and unworthy you will feel regardless of how much wealth and money you accumulate. Remember the Backwards Law. Don’t get attached to the outcome of being wealthy. Just focus on doing the right things and giving your best.
  • The more peace and happiness you seek, the more disturbed you are likely to feel. Don’t do things because you are seeking peace and happiness. Pursuing peace and happiness as the end objective paradoxically reinforces the lack of peace and joy in your life. Remember the Backwards Law. Let go of the attachment, and what you let go of will come back to you. 

The only way to get what you want is not to want it- This is the Backwards Law !!

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