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The Inner Game: Why Trying Too Hard Can Be Counterproductive

https://fs.blog/2020/01/inner-game-of-tennis/

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The Inner Game: Why Trying Too Hard Can Be Counterproductive
The standard way of learning is far from being the fastest or most enjoyable. It's slow, makes us second guess ourselves, and interferes with our natural learning process. Here we explore a better way to learn and enjoy the process.

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The Inner Game

The Inner Game

The phenomenon of winning or losing something in your mind before you win or lose it in reality is called "The Inner Game."

This is the subject of the book The Inner Game of Tennis (written in the 1970s by W. Timothy Gallwey). It's about overcoming the external obstacles we create that prevent us from succeeding. You don’t need to be interested in tennis or even know anything about it to benefit from this book.

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Self 1 and Self 2

Self 1 and Self 2

When we are learning something new, we often internally talk to ourselves. Self 1 is the conscious self. Self 2 the subconscious. The two are always in dialogue.

If both selves can communicate in harmony, everything goes well.
But more often,  Self 1 gets judgmental and critical, trying to instruct Self 2. The trick is to calm Self 1 and let Self 2 follow that natural learning process.

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Stop trying so hard

There is a time for instruction and putting in the effort. But trying too hard may produce negative results.

Instead, step back and take in less feedback. On a deeper level, we know what to do. We just need to overcome the habit of the mind getting in the way.

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Forget about positive thinking

We are often encouraged to think positively, but this is not always the right approach.

We need to stop attaching judgments to our performance, positive or negative, and see things as they are. This action unlocks a process of natural development. As soon as you understand the effort and accept it as it is, a natural process of change begins.

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The Inner Game way of learning

We should pay attention to how we learn and if we're learning in the best possible way:

  • Observe your existing behavior without attaching judgment to it.
  • Once you are aware of what you're doing, picture the desired outcome.
  • Trust yourself and "let it happen."
  • Continue a "nonjudgmental, calm observation of the results" to repeat the cycle and keep learning.

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Stay Cool and Manage Stress

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  • If you feel nervous and anxious, put cold water on your face and get some fresh air. 
  • If you feel fearful, depressed, or discouraged, try intense aerobic exercises. Energize yourself. 

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