Stop Pushing: The Art of Relaxed Achievement

“Some people think it’s holding that makes one strong—sometimes it’s letting go.” ~Unknown

A few weeks ago, I took a sip of my morning tea hoping that the day would be better than the prior ones. I had somehow tripped over the cracks of life and couldn’t seem to pull myself back. I had woken up feeling eager to start a new day, but like every other day of my life, within the first few hours, things had gotten off track.

I was stuck in a downward vortex of fear, anxiety and self-ridicule. I read my Yogi tea bag message, “It’s not life that matters; it’s the courage that we bring to it.”

I held back my tears because my courage was feeling impossibly deflated. I was sick of trying so hard.

How much courage do we really need to live our lives?

I realized then that my entire life I’d felt like a fraud. I was renting someone else’s life, trying to pretend that it was me. My only consistency was my inconsistency with not being true and honoring myself. It is exhausting to be someone you’re not supposed to be.

Society conditioned me to believe if you want something you have to work hard to get it. And I worked really hard accepting the fact that life was supposed to be an uphill struggle. All my relationships were superficial. I forced a smile to hide the fact that I felt all alone.

Everyone I knew wanted to talk about the latest fashion buzz, who won American Idol, or what Snookie’s latest drama was. I pretended to be interested, but I was more curious about the pull on my heart. It kept prickling and nagging as to say, “There is more than this, honey.”

For over a decade I lived this delusional nightmare of codependency and a search for security with success.

I chose all my romantic relationships carefully to escape the painful reality of my anxiety. I’d pick partners who were addicted to numbing their pain, too. We’d escape life by doing drugs together and drinking over the fear.

I finally got up enough courage to recognize that the relationship was unhealthy and I would end it only to find myself back in the arms of another addiction—overeating, over exercising, overworking; more men, more drugs. I stayed in a constant state of denial, consumed by my fear-based mind.

I was always waiting for the next thing to happen— the next promotion, the next boyfriend, the next anything to drag me out of the depression. It never occurred to me that “pushing” was the problem. My inner drive was really just a cry for help—a call for love.

I believed the root of my depression was my job in marketing. So after many attempts I finally left that position to pursue a new dream. Again the pushing overtook my world. I declared I would be a travel writer and pushed my way into that industry. 

It was like climbing one mountain to get to the top only to see you’ve made it only half way. I started to meet important people in the publishing world. Bestselling authors were now my best friends, and I was being published in travel magazines.

But behind the scenes, I was a mess. My constant need for approval fueled my new career. It was no different than before. I was just as doped up on success and recognition as I was in my previous job.

I was driven by the outward reflections of success, thinking that my worth was wrapped up in how many travel jobs I could pin down. I started to compare myself to other travel writers, believing that my importance was tied to how many Twitter followers I had.

This is what the fear-based mind tends to do. It has a way of making us stay in fear by playing out delusions of separation. My ego was in full command, so I continued with my weary pushing.

One day, an editor called me to invite me on a press trip. But to my surprise, getting to this phone call didn’t take any pushing at all. In fact, it landed in my lap.

I started to realize that my life doesn’t have to be so hard. I’d left one career carrying leftover insecurities and fear only to dump them into my new career. I couldn’t move on and grow unless I learned the lessons.

When I left the corporate world, I promised myself to always follow my heart. When I follow my heart there is always a pull. It is like a magnetic force leading me to my greater good. The pushing is the monster. It is the fearful mind creeping in to tell us that we aren’t good enough; we aren’t good looking enough, or smart enough.

Enough already! Stop the insanity. No wonder most of the world is stuck in depression, recession and aggression.

What if we all shifted our thoughts to loving thoughts? What if we all stopped pushing and just let our hearts pull us?

The day I had this epiphany I was sitting next to my 92-year-old Grandma. I recognized that her reality was much different than mine.

There was a woman who had lived through so much, from the Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis, to the Assignation of President Kennedy, 9/11, and the First Black President.

But there she sat, with a soft subtle glow. Grandma always smiled and had a peaceful spark in her eyes. I realized that my mini dramas, self-loathing, and worrying about my next assignment were rather superficial in comparison.

I asked this beautiful 92-year-old woman, “In your life, how did you get through the tough times?” She looked over at me, and simply replied, “Well it all works out in the end now doesn’t it? There is no point in worrying when things always turn out fine.”

A smile flooded to my face, as I recognized that there is a distinct difference between pushing and pulling. Pushing is all about fear.

Up until a few weeks ago, I was stuck in the success trap of feeling like my reward would come from “out there.” I had to cut the strings and trust that success is a feeling in the heart. Now instead of pushing, I feel a natural peace from within.

Where in your life are you struggling? In what way are you exhausting yourself through pushing? If it feels like you are going uphill in an area of your life, stop and take a step back.

Then connect with your purpose. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Don’t worry about how or when it will happen, but ask why. Are you helping others? How are you serving the greater good?

When we focus on the intention rather than the little things, like how we’re going to make money, or when we’ll meet our next clients, we feel motivated by our purpose, rather than driven by our worries.

Make the conscious choice to act from love, not fear. Fear is the pushing, manipulating, controlling force, and love is the pull in your heart that will guide you to the path of least resistance.

Lastly, listen to Grandma. Trust that everything is going to be fine, because in the end it always works out.

Photo by mikebaird

About Shannon Kaiser

Shannon Kaiser is founder of, a wonderland of adventure, fun, and fulfillment. A full-time travel writer, author, and adventure junkie, she inspires people to “love their life to the fullest” and make the most out of every moment.

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  • Great post. I wrote a blog post yesterday about resistance.  Pushing kind of reminds of that resistance. 

    Always listen to Grandma; she knows best.

  • Iamdavidduncan

    Awesome post … relative and insightful to my own life. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Aquarius Company

    Thank you so much … namaste.  <3

  • unionmaid

    the push/pull concept is great; thank you for writing this wonderful essay. I too pushed very hard at my job, especially at trying to recover from big financial debts that hovered over me like huge scary monsters. Then i got sick with pneumonia. It knocked me down for nearly 6 weeks. Guess what? The work was still there when I got better, and though I’ve been very slow to take it all back on I still get it all done — with time to spare! It made me wonder what was going on when I was pushing so hard and it seemed I never had a free moment to myself. What I’ve learned: In obstacles, like an illness, there are opportunities. My illness helped me quiet down, meditate, and choose a different path. Now my heart tells me to love myself first, to light that candle within, so that I will be able to light the candles of others. That’s how I’m being pulled by the heart:-)

  • Pam

    Love, love, love, love, love this post! Thank you

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  • Shannon

    I am glad you liked this story. Thank you for sharing yours as well. I love that you now love yourself first, in order to be there for others we must be there for ourselves, great point. 

  • Sarah

    Absolutely beautiful … thank you for sharing, Shannon … and for sharing the love of your Grandma!!! Lovely!

  • Hi Shannon,

    I love this honest sharing by you. You make me feel less lonely knowing that we all have our troubles, heartaches and struggles. At the end of it all, you had the perfect solution for us all through the wisdom of Grandma. Always listen to the age old wisdom of love.

    My current struggles is with my family. We do not have our own home yet and I am placing a great burden on myself to build the resources to move the family into our own homes. For a modern family, it is quite unthinkable to not have a place called home.

    Yet when I read this post, I just felt so ashamed. I have been blaming everyone and everything and not giving thanks that at least there is a roof over our head. Grandma’s message was the final straw I needed to look forward. It will all work out in the end.

  • Rajan Ramchandani

    WOW! I am so grateful to you, as you have rightly pointed out the pull/push attitude we all seem to have in us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Shannon

    Thank you Jimmy for reading and sharing your thoughts. If we just focus on the good the bad and struggles will fall away. I spoke to my Grandma again yesterday and she reminded me how silly we make ourselves worrying, and in the end it is all connected and all works out in our favor. She can help us live a more peaceful now, just knowing we are doing the best we can. I will hold positive thoughts for you and your family. Shannon

  • Kennytenn13

    Beautiful article, i gotta say this really helped me out right now because i am at a point in my life where i am pushing and pushing and now ive learned that i just need to take a step back and relax thank you!!!

  • Otterspace2001

    That was a great piece of clear writing and resonated loudly with me. I would alter you grandma’s response to “everything is fine right now”. In my own journey, I find that my anxiety regaridng outcomes disappates the moment I remember that I can “trust” in a loving universe. Whatever name you give to a higher power, I have found that nothing works like renewed faith and on good days I remember to renew quite a few times. 
    The idea of following the “pull” also speaks to hearing the guidance or will of a higher source. Rumi is my favorite teacher and to pull a line out of context for a moment he writes, “I am iron resisting the strongest magnet”.  I have to laugh when I notice that I’m doing it again-duh. We codependents could just as accurately be to as “controlaholics”. I’m sure you know what I mean-

  • Otterspace2001

    I posted a comment before rereading it and saw I failed to make my point. Lemme try again. Things do not work out all right in the end. Things are exactly as they are supposed to be “right now”.  Or in, current parlance; it is what it is. Accepting and trusting that those “bad or difficult aspects of life are challenges to learn and grow from rather than fight againest has made my own life more peaceful. Still, I shoot off an outraged editorial piece about politics and corporate greed now and again just to vent. It helps- go figure…

  • Thanks for this post, it really resonates with me right now as I have been pushing, both figuratively and literally, which not only has lead to stress but also a minor health problem. I lost sight of the intention and was motivated by worry instead of purpose. It’s a shame that it took this health problem for me to begin to gain perspective but it’s also nice to hear that it is a universal experience. And as your wise grandmother said, it all does work out in the end!

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  • Jazz

    Shanon, thank you very much for sharing this wonderful article.I finished reading with tears in my eyes. It reminded me of the unconditional love my grandma has given me. All her reminders and wisdom came back.

    My life is full of uncertainties at the moment. Unstable job, complicated relationship,financial instability that oftentimes stops me from hoping that someday everything will be fine.

    Reading this somehow gave me a validation that what I am going through is just a phase. That one day I will be in a job I always wanted. Be in a happy and meaningful relationship, financially stable. All my dreams and desires will fall into place.

  • Shelli

    Needed this today! thanks for the great read.

  • StrangeWorld


    It’s 4 a.m. now. And your article just made me cry out loud…really

    Thank you so much!!