A natural law of reverse effect exists in the energetic universe. Understanding how reverse effect works in our psyche can help us understand our psychological world much better. Why? In short, reverse effect can really get in the way of achieving goals, disciplining children, and, in general, all our negative interactions with others.
To state the gist of reverse effect simply: the harder one consciously tries to do something, the more difficult it is to succeed. Indeed, just the word “try” implies that you aren’t going to make it. You can try forever and still not get off the ground. Of course, this seems to go against everything that is logical, for surely the harder we try the more we should gain, not lose. We can make gains from hard work once we’re in motion, but the law of reverse effect creates resistance to get us moving in the first place.
When we “try,” we gather our energy and push. Often, that energy seems to bump up against some cosmic wall and boomerang right back to us. All this serves to do is push us back the way we came. It’s like the old cliché: the dance of life is two steps forward and one step back.
Still, all struggle is born from “trying” hard. The harder you try, the harder it gets. If someone tells you they will try, 99 percent of the time they won’t make it. Take, for instance, a habit you want to create—a new diet or exercise program. How easy is it to follow? For most of us, it’s only a matter of time before we give in and eat more than we were eating before we decided to diet. It becomes too hard to hold out against food cravings that hit us hot and heavy. It’s a similar scenario with trying to stop smoking. What happens? The struggle gets bigger; cravings become unbearable. Addiction is strong energy in motion. Try to stop its motion and it will boomerang back at you with the full power of its forward motion—in reverse. This is why it’s so hard to stop any addiction.
Because we’re working with a universal principle here, the law of reverse effect is some hard energy to change. It’s as automatic as gravity. In most cases, you have to keep a program going for 21 days before a new habit is born. During that time, “stuff” will come up to stop you from exercising or dieting. Trying harder won’t help, especially if you’re only doing it because you feel you should. “I should” really means, “I don’t want to,” which gives you even less forward momentum.
On the other hand, when someone says, “I’ll do it” instead of “I’ll try,” he or she is usually willing to move through the resistance. There will always be resistance when you start a new pattern of energy and get it moving. However, another law of the physical universe shows us that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Once you put a healthy new habit in motion, the Universe will help it stay in motion. It’s simply getting it going that can be a problem.
So, what is the solution? How do we get past the law of reverse effect?
Awareness and acceptance are the first key. Certainly, understanding the dynamic in the first place helps us to avoid struggle and frustration. When we’re prepared to take on something new, with all its challenges, it will be much easier to handle. Expecting the backlash and jumping over the wave is easier than hitting it head on. We take two steps forward happily and when the one-step-back occurs, we accept it as the way things are and hold true to our course.
Another key is to make sure we really want to do something. Desire is strong energy and can cut through resistance like a sharp knife. Motivation is everything in life. You can’t even get out of bed without it! How much more motivated are we to get up in the morning when we know we’re going to have a great day with something special about to happen? If we don’t want to do something, however, our decision is weak. We may avoid it and put it off forever.
When we really want a certain outcome, the Universe tends to honour our intention and get behind us. Making a firm decision does much to carry us forward. Just the act of choosing puts energy into forward motion. The stronger the decision, the more the Universe supports us and the less we experience that backlash. Conversely, the less certain you are, the greater the resistance will be.
When the smoker, chronic overeater or alcoholic finally comes to the point of certainty—knowing deep inside, irrevocably, that death will be the end product of this addiction—he or she can change much easier. Hitting bottom, that person decides to live, and sees in no uncertain terms that the addiction has to go. The addiction is now in the way of a larger goal: to live.
When our certainty creates such a deep decision that it affects our soul, we invoke a state of grace. A higher law takes over and suddenly we can walk away from an addictive life and never look back. Many of us need the help of a Higher Power to do this. For a select few, it can happen from the realization and resulting decision alone.
For less extreme cases, planning a course and sticking to it will get us through the backlash of resistance easier. The slow, steady, persistent energy of a strong intention helps hold us on course and moves us through the resistance much better than trying to force something.
Last, but not least, knowing when to let go and when to hang on is a very valuable key. Letting go is not giving up. Letting go is an art, and a spiritual skill. When we let go, we automatically move out of resistance and into the flow. Letting go stops struggle. Why? For the simple reason that you can’t let go and hang on at the same time. Knowing when to let go and when to hang on for all we are worth greatly increases our chance of success.
So, whether it’s disciplining your children or trying to overcome an addiction, rigid control is never the answer. You just have to be smarter than the law of reverse effect.
Jackie Kosednar was the publisher of Alaska Wellness Magazine until her death in 2012.