The Law of Allowing
In this step on the course Ed and I have been talking about the law of Allowing. This is one of the hardest steps in the Live in the Present course.
“The only thing you should be intolerant of is intolerance”
If you feel angry or disgruntled when someone with beliefs opposed to yours gets their way, if you become upset because you can’t have your way, then you are not living within the Law of allowing. When we can allow the mad people to be mad, the drug takers to be drug takers an so on we stand a better chance of changing their behaviour. When we oppose people’s behaviour we will normally make it worse and we get more of what we don’t want.
According to Emile Coue when you feel or express anger at the behaviour of others you will create more of what you would seek to eliminate.
Emile Coue’s law of reversed effort
The more we try to consciously struggle with a dominant idea the more powerful its effects become.
“When an idea imposes itself on the mind to such an extent as to give rise to a suggestion, all the conscious efforts which the subject makes in order to counteract this suggestion are not merely without the desired effect, but they actually run counter to the subject’s conscious wishes and tend to intensify the suggestion.”
(Baudouin, 1920: 116).
He elaborates by describing the law of reversed effect as exemplified by the self-antagonistic attitude of mind that says, “I would like to… but I cannot.” This notion might be seen as similar to the modern technique of “reverse psychology”, a persuasion technique which aims, paradoxically, to persuade someone to accept an idea by suggesting the opposite to them.
Is it ok to be completely tolerant of any behaviour?
“The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato.
Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”
Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies
Of all the Universal Laws, the Law of Allowing is often the most difficult one to get our heads around. The truth is, there is freedom in allowing circumstances to be what they are and people to be who they are, whether you agree with them or not. Really. Even when it comes to poverty or war or disease.
Mother Theresa famously said that she would not attend an anti war rally, but she would attend a pro peace rally. She understood the Law of Allowing and the Law of Reversed Effort. She realised that the effect of an anti war rally would simply focus attention on ‘War’. A pro peace rally will focus attention on ‘Peace’.
This is also an internal process. When we have an internal dialogue that is self punishing when we get something wrong all we do is create more of what we don’t want.
If I am using hypnosis to stop someone smoking and use the phrase “you must stop this filthy, disgusting habit right now!” the person will smoke even more. However, if I use the phrase “you will get a lot of pride and pleasure from no longer needing to smoke”, the person will stop.
To change yourself and change others you need to evoke the Law of Allowing.
Take care of yourself and treat yourself with love