Wednesday, July 28, 2021


I am not a fan of pushing through.

I know firsthand the resulting pain

I was taught to push through as a way of relating to life and to its circumstances. It was an invariable modus operandi for sure. Whatever was happening, just push through. There was nothing that could not be shoved aside if you only pushed hard enough. Persistently push, ignore the pain, and do it with a smile upon your face.

I was not, however, taught what to do when you simply had no more push left inside.

As I watch with so much of the world the painful journey of Simone Biles I do so with great empathy and admiration. I will never know the kind of pressure this young woman is experiencing. I have not been and never will be on such a worldwide stage. As she describes the pressure of feeling as if the weight of the world is on her shoulders, I can only connect to how that has felt at the level of my own experience. I am no Olympian. I possess no skills or talents that would compare to what this phenomenon is capable of demonstrating. I have repeatedly watched her in complete wonder. I clearly remember feeling deeply for her when the 2020 games were postponed due to Covid. I selfishly hoped she would make the choice to continue on when the games were finally allowed to be held. I read of her misgivings, and yet I wanted her to be the overcomer I perhaps perceived I would never be.

I guess I unconsciously wanted her to push through when I myself had learned that the force-against strategy was not always for the best.

I am sorry, Simone.

You see, I was taught that pushing through no matter what was an outward sign of inner strength.

I thought I had learned that the forcing-dynamic was a fallacy that most often resulted in pain and thwarted intentions. And in fairness to myself, I have learned it to a level. Yet watching and listening to Biles not only withdraw herself from what she gleaned would be a dangerous level of force but also publicly articulate why she was doing so opened a whole new level of awareness for me. I have learned to listen within and to know when pushing would be painful and even hazardous to myself. I have not been so good at openly saying why I am doing so.

If any of us doubt the depth of the remaining stigma regarding mental health issues this is a perfect demonstration of it in real time.

The fact that Ms. Biles would state that her reason for withdrawing from the group finals was her present mental state is simply stunning. It is bravery at its best. It is only augmented by the association she made between her mental and physical states. She refused to betray herself regardless of the pushback she knew she would receive. At age 24 she demonstrated the wisdom that gave way to knowing that if she pushed through her mental dissonance, it would likely result in physical injury. This is courage. This is self-compassion at Olympic levels.

Simply breathtaking.

I of course have no way of knowing what familial programming has informed the life and expression of Simone Biles. I can watch and see an incredible amount of discipline, drive, and commitment. Those are not foreign to my own life experience, though they have clearly been demonstrated in very different ways. What was clearly on display this week, however, is the distinction between discipline and a blind level of drive. What I saw was the discernment to not let commitment become injurious control. A dedication to being whole is more important than compartmentalizing in the name of performance. If she never performs another routine, she has stayed true to herself. For that I give her a gold medal. And a heaping dose of gratitude.

It is seductive in our culture to think that pushing through at any cost is a virtue. Taking the bull by the horns is admired far more than staying out of the ring. And I fully prescribe to the fact that there is a balance to be struck. But most of the suffering and exhaustion I have experienced in my life is because I have applied pushing through when in fact I needed to pause and let be. Non-doing is not admirable in our world today. We are a people who are driven to make it happen. Doingness bias is epidemic. Our minds are constantly busy, and so it is reflected in our activities. We are troubled, and we do not want to stop and simply admit that it is so. We go on pushing, and the mental-emotional toll is enormous. And it is then reflected in our bodies.

I have found myself caught in the tendency to try and push through this time of pandemic distancing. I have watched myself dog myself in terms of questioning whether I am doing enough to serve during this time. And I am grateful to at least be at a place in consciousness that knows I am watching. I am surrounded by people who employ the keep doing more strategy. “It’s not working so do more of it”. As I type the words, I clearly see the insanity of it. Yet in my desire to serve I can easily get caught in the spin and in the push. Even with personal tragedy occurring I can get kidnapped in the pushing through mentality. And the pushing through mentality is simply not good mental health. The illusion is that the push reduces the pain. I assure you that it is indeed an illusion. Anything you push against will always push back.

After decades of pushing through I personally am all about deeper listening, discernment, and inspired ease. I am daily checking in with my current mental health state. I attend to my Spiritual health by non-negotiable meditation, prayer, and presencing. When I find myself pushing, I trace back to what is behind it. I feel into my body, exploring how my mental state is being reflected in my physicality. I question what is driving me, and if it will result in what is highest and best for me. I do this knowing that what is highest and best for me will be what is highest and best for all.

I am grateful to not have the eyes of the world upon me. I am grateful to have no more mountains to climb or achievements to strive for. I am not out to win any medals. I am content to watch those who can and often do.

And I am deeply appreciative of one young woman who knew when to step back from the pushing through. Who gave us all an incredible example of courage, authenticity, and wisdom.

I thought at the beginning of the games that Simone Biles would be the biggest winner of them all. And indeed, for me, she already is.

Yet another example of why I am not a fan of pushing through.