The Backwards Law

The Backwards Law

the backwards law accept the pain and succeed

Introduced by the philosopher Alan Watts and popularized by writer Mark Manson (“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”): “The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”

I took a few minutes to understand this cause it seems quite contradictory, but it’s actually pretty true. The pursuit of something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. Focus on wanting to be rich, famous, successful, and you’ll feel bitter at your current poor, unknown and mediocre state. The more you wish to be happy and loved, the lonelier you’ll feel.

So…does that mean you should stop desiring for goals and objects? Well, even if the pursuit of greater things brings about negativity, it doesn’t mean you should stop trying to grow.

What can you do then?

Instead of focusing on the end goal, focus on the journey – accept the discomfort, pain, sweat and tears necessary towards such success, and you’d experience a lot more improvements than if you had focused on the reward at the end. Being open and self-aware about your weaknesses makes you more confident and trustworthy to others. Embracing your suffering and hardship, fears, depression and anxieties is what gives you resilience, perseverance, grit and courage.

Try to escape the negatives, and you’ll only be stuck with an even more negative life. Avoiding suffering is itself a form of suffering. Trying to escape from the struggle is itself a form of struggle. To try to avoid pain is to care too much about it, making it a negative experience. However, if you’re able to accept the pain, that is when you are able to advance forward.


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