I constantly hear women saying they need to “push through”.
They need to “get over” their anxiety. Their limitations. Their fears. Their inability to deal with everyday situations. They need to just sort it out and get through it. Whatever they do, they can’t stop. They need to keep going.
This often comes paired with an idea that the busier and more distracted they are, the easier life will be to push through.
And I get it. I understand the feeling of observing our own behaviour and our own life and recognising that it’s not where we want to be. It’s not our best. We’re not where we want to stay. It’s uncomfortable. We need to find a way out.
I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. And we’ll probably all be there again. But life is not something to just push through. The word push means to exert force in order to move something away from oneself. Life was not designed to be pushed.
Our wellbeing and mental health is not something that we just push. We do not need to test our limits over and over. The human spirit can endure. We know that. We’ve read enough books and heard enough stories to know that humans can endure and keep enduring. But we are not stronger or braver because we suffer. Yes, hardships give us experience. Yes, we learn to be stronger and smarter. But this is only true if we learn from it. If we are not learning and growing, that suffering had no purpose.
Every time I hear a woman explain that they just need to push through, my heart hurts. Can you imagine giving your Mum, best friend or daughter that advice? Just suck it up. Push through.
They tell me about the struggles that they’re having. They don’t want to get out of bed. They don’t want to see their friends or go to work. They don’t want to eat or they want to eat too much. They don’t want to get outside. They don’t want to exercise. They are stuck in a state of being that they don’t recognise as themselves.
But they know they’ll eventually get out of it. Brighter days will come and the burden will lift. The pains of anxiety will not grip so tightly, and they can appreciate the good in life again. They know this is true because they’ve been through it before.
So why do we go through this cycle in the same way over and over again? Pushing through and hoping that it will ease? Why do we feel anxiety, depression or a sense of dread and try to ignore it? Yes, it might ease with a brighter day. But won’t it just come back again?
Every pain that I’ve ever endured in life has re-occurred over and over again until I eventually stopped and faced it head on. It can take many forms, but it will not leave your side until you face it and learn from it. Only then, can we understand the pain we endured. That it had a purpose all along.
If you recognise the pattern of pain, dread, anxiety, depression or anything else, please stop and listen to what your heart is screaming out to tell you. You need time. You need to work through this. You need to heal.
Your mind and body are the most precious things you will ever have. When they are telling you that something is not right, don’t ignore them. Don’t switch on the T.V., scroll through your phone, take on more work, or constantly shop to numb it all. Your soul will not be filled by something external. Turn inward and listen to what you need to hear.
Below are some of the tips that I’ve used to help heal and listen in difficult times.
- Spend time alone. Whether this is meditation, a walk in nature, a soak in the bath or just lying on the sofa with a peaceful playlist, take some time for yourself. Find ways to do this every day. We cannot truly listen to our hearts when every moment is filled by someone else’s presence. Whether it’s someone with us, a book, podcast or social media, we cannot always be absorbing other people’s thoughts. Absorb your own. Learn to listen.
2. Journal or talk to someone. When your thoughts stay in your head, they can get stuck in a loop. You find yourself getting trapped in negative thought patterns. Writing down your thoughts or speaking to someone allows them to travel in a different way. You may be surprised what you realise just by writing something down or saying it aloud.
3. Find physical release. Movement is therapeutic for your body and mind. Moving helps to release tension and help stagnant energy start flowing. Movement is medicine. Yoga, running, walking, workouts, sports, dance, Qigong…whatever it is, shift your energy every day. Allow the stagnant energy to release and get things flowing. It doesn’t have to be intense or heavy exercise. There is a style and tempo for everyone. Find yours.
4. Uncover your values. Honesty and wellbeing are two of mine. They need to show up in most things I do in order for me to feel at peace. Determine what’s important to you and what areas of your life need more of what you value. Is it your work, your relationships, or your hobbies? Take baby-steps at bringing more of what you value into your life.