The reason many people find it difficult to relax, to let go, or even to successfully do relaxation techniques that are meant to reduce stress naturally, such as meditation and deep breathing, is that they are identified with an energy pattern or inner self called the Pusher.
This article introduces you to the Pusher and gives you strategies for balancing it so that you can stop doing and start being, and feel your stress dissolve…
The Pusher is a part of the human psyche which many of us are controlled by, without us even knowing it. Its role is to keep you moving on to the next thing, whatever that may be for you.
It works hand-in-hand with the Inner Critic and the Perfectionist. The Inner Critic points out your shortcomings, your inner Perfectionist tries to make you ‘better’, and the Pusher pushes you to action, often making lists and schedules for you.
- If your Inner Critic tells you you are not achieving much in life, and you decide to achieve more, then your Pusher tells you to write some goals, attend seminars and read books on success, look up web sites for even more guidance, find a mentor, and so on. (See this piece on goal setting.)
- If your Inner Critic tells you your house is a mess (especially in comparison to your neighbour’s, your sister’s, your friend’s), your Pusher reminds you to do the vacuuming, tidy up, wash the curtains, sweep the courtyard, get rid of the things you no longer need, re-arrange rooms/furniture/or even move to more easy-to-clean dwellings. And your Perfectionist makes sure you do it all just right!
- If your Inner Critic tells you you are not spiritual enough or that you are too stressed and focused on future achievements, then your Pusher makes you attend yoga classes five times a week and meditate every morning. Yet when you find it difficult to meditate and lose yourself in the present your Inner Critic tells you you’re not doing it properly, and so your Perfectionist makes you try harder, maybe with help from the Pusher who now makes you go to yoga twice a day, because you obviously haven’t released all the blocks and tension from your body and so you need to keep working on it!
The Pusher is such a major driving force in many of us, that it is difficult to recognise it is even there. It just feels ‘natural’, like ‘who I am’.
But every time you have a thought about something you should do, and you feel propelled to action, that is your inner Pusher at work.
Even if you are resting, and you start to think of what to do after your rest, that’s your Pusher again. It might even make you jump up from the sofa and do whatever it is it has reminded you about.
Without any awareness of this pushing forward force operating within you, you wouldn’t think to question your (its) thoughts, and you automatically believe in the overriding importance of doing whatever thing your Pusher nudges you to do.
The Pusher is so relentless that even while you are busy doing something it reminded you to do, it often distracts you from your task with reminders of all the other things you should do too!
Stress can be Disabling
The stress that results from this Pusher energy at work can be disabling, especially if you start to worry that you don’t have enough time to do everything that ‘needs’ to be done. You can then feel it is impossible to do everything on your list, so you freeze and don’t get anything done.
Or you procrastinate. Or do unnecessary things. Procrastination is a sure sign of an over-active Pusher.
There are many cases of people who don’t do much at all and who have very strong Pushers. Yet from the outside it seems as though they are identified with a more laid back energy.
Stress-related Health Problems as a Result of an Overactive Pusher
The Pusher can also be responsible for health problems such as migraines, heart conditions, neck and back problems.
You can feel the changes in your body when your Pusher energy is present.
Think of some of the things you believe you ‘need’ to do. This will instantly bring in the Pusher.
Then pay attention to your body. Does your breathing or your heart rate change? Is there any tightness anywhere? How do your shoulders feel? How does your stomach feel?
I realise this sounds quite negative, but if you have no awareness of your Pusher energy and how it affects your state, the consequences can be negative.
The positive aspects of the Pusher are that it is largely responsible for much of what does get done in our world. It helps people get up in the morning and get going. It is an energy that propels us forward, and if it were not available at all, our world would be a very different place.
The Benefits of Separating from your Pusher
The ironic thing about the Pusher is that you can actually achieve more when you separate from your Pusher energy. Because when you unhook from it, your actions come from a different place and there is more calm in how you go about completing the tasks of your day.
Unhooking from the Pusher energy allows you to be more present, and receptive to other energies and so your experience of your day changes.
Time seems to slow down (a great bonus) and stress disappears.
And if you meditate with your Pusher sitting beside you rather than in your lap, your meditation will actually work.
How to Balance Your Pusher and Find Relief From Stress
When you realise you’ve got your Pusher operating strongly and you would like to turn down its power, try the following:
Sit (if you can) or stand still and start to fantasize about doing nothing.
Maybe you’re on a deserted island, lying under a palm tree, or maybe you’re on the couch at home staring out the window.
Imagine how it would feel to be in that situation – feel your surroundings. If you’re on the island, smell the sea air, feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and the softness of the breeze. Wriggle your toes and feel the fine sand run through them. Take a few deep breaths and enjoy those feelings.
If you feel the impulse to get going again, try to be present in that feeling and examine it. Is there any anxiety with it? If so, what is it about? If thoughts about getting things done occur to you, question them. Find out why it is so important to do those things now.
If you really can’t stay still and must do something, then try to take some of those relaxed feelings from your fantasy with you. Hold a mental and/or feeling image of you in your ‘doing nothing surroundings’ and carry it with you wherever you go.
Your Pusher might just add this exercise to its to-do list, making the exercise yet another thing that is causing you stress.
If that happens, and you can’t get into doing the exercise, just cross it off your list!
If you are really troubled by an out-of-control Pusher, please go and see a Voice Dialogue facilitator for help with this. It will be one of the most valuable things you will ever do!
There are facilitators in most countries and many even offer sessions via Skype. There’s a full list of people here (the link will take you to the Resources page of VoiceDialogue.org, Hal and Sidra Stones’ website.)
To find out more about the various inner selves that make up who you are, please read my book Which Self Are You?.