Don’t Use the “Force”

I don’t like to be forced to do anything. Even by myself. So I don’t force myself into anything for which I am not yet ready.

There have been, and continue to be things that I find difficult or impossible that many people are able to do with ease. Things that many insist must be done, even if by force, in order to succeed. (Elevator pitches, cold calling, going to networking events in other cities, going to nightclubs, “getting out there”, making sexuality a top priority, establishing social proof, never requesting a separate check, to name more than a few things people have tried to force me to do, usually with unpleasant results.)

I firmly believe there is more than one way to do just about anything. The alternative may be the long way around via a far lonelier road, but we can all basically get there eventually. But we can’t ever realize that if we are too busy beating ourselves into submission. (Or allowing ourselves to be beaten thus by someone else.) So instead of forcing myself into some things, I take some time to evaluate why I need to be forced into it in the first place.

When I had a toy with movable parts as a kid, and one of the parts would get stuck somehow, one of the first things an adult would tell me is, “don’t force it, you’ll break it! Let me take a look.” That’s because there is a reason for any dysfunction, and discovering that reason will either present the solution to the problem, or reveal that the cause is hopeless, and that it is time to get a new toy. The same can be said about our own resistences.

You’ve got to force yourself to change,” you’ll hear many gurus say. “You need so and so in order to get rich, or popular, or successful, or loved.” But the fact is you are Too XYZ to be forced into anything, and when you are, like those toys, things tend to break.

Take a step back. Why don’t you want to take this action? What happens when you have been forced to do so in the past? How do you feel when you try to do certain things? Have you always felt this way about an action, or was there a time when you wouldn’t have to be “forced” into it? Is there another way to achieve the same goal? If so, should you, or should you try to methodically end your resistance to something? Think long and hard about it. The time an energy spent on such introspection will be worth infinitely more to you than will be the energy spent on trying to force something that just isn’t ready to give.

When you look closer at what you have to be forced to do, one of two things happens. You come to understand the components of your resistance and thus can begin to address the smaller issues pertaining to it. When those are addressed, the resistance can sometimes be removed entirely. No force needed. Or, the other result is that you find that an aspect of yourself cannot be changed, and you simply cannot take the action in question. But you can resign to that fact in a deliberate, calm manner, as opposed to being shattered by the defensive fear that springs up when you try to force yourself to do things you do not want to do.

In either case, you have learned more about yourself. And whether that means a block has been removed, or you are able to find an alternate route, you will have benefited from the simple act of introspection. Far more than had you been forced.

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