Pushed Through All Your Life?

Someone has definitely pushed you physically, mentally, emotionally, metaphorically. Often, you have pushed yourself. I know it's good to push beyond what's comfortable—we reach plateaus of growth and need to push to another level in order to keep the momentum of growing. I like to call that kind of pushing, stretching or expanding, but not pushing. The type of pushing I'm referring to is the kind we do to the tune of major burnout, the chronic hardcore stress that causes health problems, short and long term. Like anything in life, there must be balance. We claim that balance is a goal we are seeking, but in our results driven culture, and checking-everything-off-of-a-list attitude, we aren't really balanced. Life is not a checklist. How sad if, that's all life is. Yes, there are milestones and the like that are important to all of us, but at what cost?


Pushing through? Queen of. Been there. Done it most of my life. I've known no other way—actually, I have. Complete numb out while pushing through anyway. Okay, so I've known no other way. I've done things because that's just what needs to be done. I have to go to the grocery store, right? I have to go to work, right? I have to raise my children, right? Yes, of course. You do those things, but you know what you do before any of those? Take care of yourself. Me? Learned the hard way. Still have to remind myself. I have worked as a teacher, which is a martyr like profession. I have placed myself in situations where I was always giving of everything, like love and time and money. I pushed through because I had to. It kept me from actually facing my real needs. One of the biggest things I've realized the very hard way is I need tons of space and have rarely honored it in the past. I lived in the NYC area traveling through and in crowded spaces and cattle car (AKA, the subway), walking through Chinatown and Times Square. Nothing sets me off faster than someone being in my personal space when I'm feeling stressed (kids included). All of the people, all of the noise, the smells and then the added bonus of people in my space. Forget it—total sensory overload. So how did I deal with it? I didn't. I kept doing it, because that's what I felt I had to endure. I have rheumatoid arthritis. Guess what happens when I don't honor my needs? Yep, that's right. Flare up, swelling and pain. I don't want to deal and I choose to keep pushing? My body screams at me. When I don't deal, I have physical proof that I need to honor my very real needs. Does pushing through just because sound appealing now? I think not.


Our culture prides itself on maintaining this illusion of productivity by doing even more, for everything being regimented continuously. Routine and discipline have their place, but there is so much more to life than doing these things that MUST be done. We don't have to be busy all the time. Just sitting outside and breathing is a beautiful thing. You don't need to fill up your head with things either. I love to read. I love music, but I need to be alone with me appreciating all that I already am without all the other noise of other people's ideas. It is okay to be unavailable in order to take care of yourself. Stop pushing through just because—please for the sake of our collective sanity and for yours (especially yours). Some things can wait or be hacked (like ordering groceries online and having them delivered). Let your kids entertain themselves while you take a bath or lock yourself in your room to write or draw or anything that nourishes your soul. You MUST take care of yourself. You can't give properly to anyone if you are not your best self. Stop pushing through. Ask yourself why you feel compelled to push constantly. How can you listen to your own natural rhythm without being bombarded with the outside world and all of the "shoulds" you have allowed to swirl in your consciousness? No one can make you do anything, but you.


I often take long breaks in which I meditate and write meditatively. I always listen to something soothing and positive when I go to sleep at night and when I wake up in the morning. I start my day with gratitude and lots of coffee. I have removed myself from toxic places and people (for the most part) and I always honor how I feel and where I am whether difficult or not. It may feel foreign at first, but taking care of yourself and not giving a crap what anyone thinks is the best act of love towards yourself.