COMPANION

The right thing does itself

‘The right thing does itself’ is a quote attributed to F. M. Alexander. It indicates the indirect and preventative nature of the work of the Technique. By preventing what is wrong – the only thing we can know with any certainty – the right thing ‘does itself’. Prevention includes inhibition, direction and the primary control.

A. R. Alexander

The earliest reference to a statement expressing this view is A. R. Alexander being quoted in a US newspaper quote in 1941. He refers to teaching at the Little School, which moved to the US because of WWII.

We try to develop a condition of awareness, so that the children know what is wrong. Prevent what is wrong, and the right way will come naturally. I cannot tell it to you in a few minutes but it concerns the primary control with which we are all born but lose through false education.[1]

Margaret Goldie

Fiona Robb’s diary of her lessons with Goldie, quotes Goldie for saying “In particular, you’re not doing the wrong thing, so that the right thing does itself.”[2] And:

FR: “So can I trust that if I stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing will do itself?”

MG (smiling): “Only if you have perfect use.”[3]

Walter Carrington

Walter Carrington frequently quoted F. M. Alexander as having said: ‘The right thing does itself’.

Once you think that, you’re likely to do something other than work on preventive lines, without the recognition that the right thing does itself. After all, the pupil’s head will go forward and up and lengthening and widening will occur naturally if the interference is removed. Thus a teacher doesn’t take the head forward and up; he merely removes the interference so that the head goes forward and up.[4]

In addition to the above quote Personally Speaking contains two more references by Walter Carrington to the the right thing does itself’.[5]

Explaining the Alexander Technique contains two references by Walter Carrington to the the right thing does itself’.[6]

Walter Carrington emphasised that the right thing only does itself by the prevention of what is wrong:

All the time the work is being taught it is being tested: anything that can be shown to be wrong can be discarded and altered. There is so much that we do not know, but as FM used to say, ‘The right thing does itself.’ We do not know what is right, but if we cannot falsify it then we must accept it until we can.[7]

Over the years Walter Carrington made several references to this quote in various talks and papers.

  • ‘Reminiscences of F. M. Alexander – Talk given at the International Congress of the F. M. Alexander Technique in Oxford, 2004’ by Walter Carrington.[8]
  • ‘Two interviews with Walter Carrington – Friday 20th February 2004’ by Hidemi Hatada.[9]
  • ‘On the regulation of teacher training courses’ by Walter Carrington.[10]
  • ‘The Human Organism’ in ‘Notes & Drafts – 1: On the Alexander Technique’ by Walter Carrington.[11]
  • ‘The results of the move to Lansdowne Road’ attributed to Walter Carrington.[12]
References

[1] A. R. Alexander quoted in ‘Oh, to be in Stow, now that England’s there’ by Luther Conant, Jr. in Boston Evening Transcript vol. CXII, no. 24, Wednesday 29 January 1941, p. 11.
[2] Not to ‘Do’ by Fiona Mackenzie Robb (Camon Press, 1999), p. 53.
[3] Not to ‘Do’ by Fiona Mackenzie Robb (Camon Press, 1999), p. 144.
[4] Personally Speaking by Walter Carrington, Seán Carey, (Mouritz, 2001 [1986]), p. 111.
[5] Personally Speaking by Walter Carrington, Seán Carey, (Mouritz, 2001 [1986]), pp. 30, 123.
[6] Explaining the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Seán Carey, (Mouritz, 2004), pp. 97, 106.
[7] ‘Notes for an Alexander Teacher’ by Walter Carrington in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), p. 152.
[8] ‘Reminiscences of F. M. Alexander – Talk given at the International Congress of the F. M. Alexander Technique in Oxford, 2004’ by Walter Carrington in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), p. 147.
[9] ‘Two interviews with Walter Carrington – Friday 20th February 2004’ by Hidemi Hatada in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), p. 217.
[10] ‘On the regulation of teacher training courses’ by Walter Carrington in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), p. 236.
[11] ‘The Human Organism’ in ‘Notes & Drafts – 1: On the Alexander Technique’ by Walter Carrington in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), p. 248.
[12] ‘The results of the move to Lansdowne Road’ attributed to Walter Carrington in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), p. 378.