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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