Conversations at the Crossroads.

Taking Charge of Push and Pull

For many of us, the shift from summer season to fall triggers a shift in energy from laid-back to stressed. Maybe this is due to an unconscious sense that increasingly shorter days are robbing us of time. Perhaps it’s because the end of the calendar year also represents the end of the fiscal year for many organizations, and so our attention may be drawn to sales or performance goals we have yet to fulfill. For some, the approaching holidays are sufficient on their own to induce anxiety, whether due to family, finances, social obligations or something else.

There are countless different stressors we could point to as root cause, yet there is little disputing the presence of the stress for many of us. We know it’s there!

I’ve really been feeling it these last few weeks. And it’s had me thinking about how we experience and manage stress at a higher level. I have noticed that, at least in my own life, there are two distinct forces at work:

The force of PULL.

And the force of PUSH.

PULL is an external force. PULL is what others ask of us, or even what we perceive is being asked of us. It feels like responsibility and obligation. PULL is a magnet drawing out critical resources and, in particular, our emotional energy.

PUSH, on the other hand, comes from within, internally driven. It begins as a well-intentioned desire to self-motivate. Yet, it can somewhat effortlessly evolve into an aggressive force that is almost mean, especially when we struggle to get started or to build momentum. PUSH interprets struggle as reluctance and cracks the whip even harder.

Of course, PUSH and PULL don’t always have clearly defined borders. When we don’t want to do something we feel obligated to do, we may sprinkle in some PUSH to address the resistance. PUSH and PULL together are a double whammy when it comes to energy drain.

Has all this talk of PUSH and PULL made you tired yet?

How would it feel if PUSH and PULL were divested of their powers to exhaust us?

I was thinking about all of this when the image of a seesaw came to mind. The ends of a seesaw move up and down, high and low, due to push and pull. And yet, the center remains grounded. One could sit on the center–or fulcrum–of a seesaw and observe movement on either end while not feeling that same movement directly.

Could this be the perfect metaphor for how to deal with PUSH and PULL? It’s a thought exercise I aim to explore further and invite others to join, as it would seem to be a health- and sanity-supporting endeavor to find some calm amidst these two powerful forces.

How differently might we see things from that vantage point? Would we discover that we have the ability to say “no” to certain commitments that PULL at us? Might we find a way to be kinder to ourselves as an alternative to the relentless PUSH? Would we gain strength to manage all of the PUSH and PULL in our lives, because a visit to the fulcrum afforded a restorative break?

That’s some food for thought during this busy season. I’ll be chewing on it myself, and I would love to hear where it takes you.

With support and encouragement for your journey,

Founder, The Crossroads Coach

Published October 29, 2017