This week Stephanie Butland, who is one of my favourite bloggers, asked: “What simple, impactful piece of advice have you been given?” (*)

There are no prizes for guessing the source of my answer.  It is, of course, my number one favourite Australian gentleman, FM Alexander.   And the particular advice is this:

‘It is not the degree of “willing” or “trying”, but the way in which the energy is directed, that is going to make the “willing” or “trying” effective.’  (**)

This is powerful stuff, especially for someone like me who grew up in a family that revered “trying hard”.    Right up to the point I read those words, I had just accepted the idea that trying hard was a good thing, and would solve any personal failings or lack of achievement.   When it didn’t work out that way, it was simply because I wasn’t trying
hard ENOUGH.

Except that it wasn’t.

It was because my energy was being directed into the wrong thing.  The wrong strategy, the wrong movement, the wrong set of muscles, the wrong system of measurement, the wrong expectations.

Now I know that difficult things take a while to master.  You have to allow yourself time to fail, to learn and to improve.  And sometimes, just sticking to what you are doing for a while longer is the best thing.  But there comes a point when it’s obvious that you’re not learning and you’re not improving.

That’s the point when “trying” usually sets in.  Take Alexander’s advice.  Don’t.

If what you are doing is flawed or faulty to start with, doing it all the more isn’t going to make it less flawed or less faulty.   Just harder.

(*)  The blog is here:      
I recommend you check out Stephanie’s blog.  It has nothing to do with the Alexander Technique, but it’s warm, wise, witty and wonderful. 
(**)  ‘The Use of The Self’ FM Alexander, p.440 footnote IRDEAT edition

CNHC and ITM registered Alexander Technique teacher.

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