stop trying so hard

Today we ask you to stop trying so hard.

Don’t try so hard.

What does this mean?

Modern society is obsessed with achievement, with status, with perfection.  People are expected to constantly push themselves, to be super-people.  Super-workers, supermoms, super-athletes.  You must be super, and superior.  You must be rich, prize-winning, and have children who excel in school and sports.  And this is just in order to feel okay about yourselves — to feel like you are worth something.

No wonder so many people are miserable, anxious, and depressed.

For this superiority must be continually worked for, struggled for, fought for.  Drop your vigilance for a moment and you may lose, fall behind, fail.  If a child does not get into the right kindergarten, he will not be on the proper track for a prestigious college!

This is madness.  This is a very crazy way to live and think.

Really it is nothing new.  In earlier times, people used to beat themselves because they were afraid of not being good enough to get into Heaven.  They used to beat their children, too, to make sure they were moral, virtuous, and perfect before the eyes of their God.  To make sure that this God would not judge them and find them wanting.  Of course, they lived in constant fear.  One immoral thought, and they would burn in Hell!

“Enlightened” modern people would rightly consider this behavior crazy, but they do the same thing.  Only now it is about status and achievement.  They must make sure they are members of the rich and successful elite, and make sure their children do the same.

So all day long everyone is trying very hard.  Trying very hard to be perfect, to be the best at whatever it is they’re doing.

This takes many forms.  It is easy to look back on the stereotypical “perfect mother and wife” of the 1950’s in America, and see how restrictive that role was, how backwards.  But modern “liberated” women are slaves to a perfect image in other ways, just as insidious.

Stop trying so hard.

It’s sacrilegious to say, isn’t it?  

Don’t try so hard.

In a culture where you are constantly exhorted to try as hard as you can, go the extra mile, punish yourself to make the win and be better than the rest.

It’s a bit subversive, isn’t it?  To say “Don’t try so hard.”  “Stop trying so hard.”

Don’t try so hard.

Stop trying so hard.

Have you ever had the experience of releasing the need to get something that you’ve really wanted?  Of letting go of the need to get that thing?  Only to wind up getting it?

There is a reason for this.

When you are desperate for something, you are tense and nervous.  And this creates an energetic block that actually repels the thing you want so desperately.

This is very obvious in romantic pursuits.  When someone exudes an air of desperation, of nervous tension, is he or she particularly attractive?

But that is what are you doing when you are trying very hard.  You are clenched, nervous.  You must be perfect — or else!

Or else what?

Someone might criticize you for not trying hard enough, is what.  Usually it’s just the voice in your head.  Occasionally it might be another person.

So what if someone criticizes you.

The voice in your head may say, it’s a very big problem if someone criticizes me!  If I don’t try hard all the time, I will lose my job!  I will be a bad parent who damages my child!  My partner will leave me!  No one will want to be with me!  I will wind up poor and alone!

But is that really true?

Look at the fears of what might happen to you if you stopped trying so hard.

Most of them are probably not true, if you really examine them.

And of course the paradox is that if you stop trying so hard, you will actually relax.  And this will make you a better worker, parent, partner — you name it. 

It may be impossible to accept this.  You may be utterly convinced that your constant struggle to be the best you can be, to be a Super-You, is the only thing keeping the wolves at bay.  That you must try very, very hard to be good, to be worth something, to be loved, to be safe.

But do you really think that medieval people who whipped themselves and their children to get into Heaven were right?  They believed absolutely that God would not love them if they didn’t whip themselves for their sins.  Do you believe they were right?  Or do you think they were crazy?

They just believed certain things.  They believed in Heaven and Hell.  A little self-flagellation was a small price to pay to escape the fires of Hell.

A modern person might say “Hell is not real.”

But Hell is very real for those who believe in it.  It’s so real, in fact, that they put themselves there in their minds, and experience real terror.

Non-religious modern people may not fear Hell in this way, but they fear other hells.  “No one will love me, I will be poor, I will be a failure.”

Probably the hell you project in your mind is no more real than the fire-and-brimstone Hell religious people fear.

If you stop trying so hard, you will not go to “Hell” — whatever Hell is for you.

In fact, when you let go, and stop trying so hard — that is the way to Heaven.

It could be said that “Heaven” is a place where no one has to try hard at all.  In Heaven, you are loved, and you are safe, and you do not have to try hard for these things.

So maybe if you believe that you are loved, and you are safe, and you do not have to try hard for these things — if you believed that right now, maybe you will find yourself living in Heaven on Earth.  

It’s worth a try.