Considering I completed a Ph.D. in a field I didn’t love and then stuck with it for another twenty years, I understand how and why people push themselves. While you can benefit from focus and persistence, you can also create unnecessary pain for yourself when you can’t access or don’t listen to your inner promptings.
After I earned a B average my first semester in Chemical Engineering at Purdue University, I sobbed and sobbed, not only about my grades but because at some level I knew my life must change forever. I could not quit since I lacked the self-awareness and internal scaffolding to support a new choice but continuing with my degree would require harsh discipline, a smothering of my natural inclinations. In hindsight I realize facing my uncertainty felt more intolerable than forcing myself to finish. Pushing through a Ph.D. piled on further unnecessary pain.
Although I quit IBM in 2010, my self-discipline followed me. My inability to recognize and prioritize what would invite joy beyond my fulfilling work brought distress, exacerbated by health challenges related to my celiac diagnosis in 2012. My current life, now structured by me instead of by universities, IBM, or my health crisis, reopened the unanswered questions around my personal identity, how to find and enjoy what resonates in my life instead of unconsciously pushing toward something unwanted.
When you get quiet and listen to what you want and what life wants for you and from you, pushing can stop. Experiment with only doing what you can do with joy. Misery serves no one, joy serves everyone. Joy makes every aspect of your life sweeter and only you can choose it for yourself.
Jin Shin Jyutsu® acupressure self-helps for the thinking mind or ego include Safety Energy Lock (SEL) 9 and 18, which both add up to 9, representing transformation and the end of a cycle. SEL 15 supports joy and laughter, whereas 8 invites the “magic in life.”
What happens when you stop pushing yourself? How do you stay aligned to your joy?