My father was a policeman. Once he went to a house where the owner hadn’t been heard from for days. He had to break in to check on him. Sadly he found the man passed away on the bathroom floor. He had given himself a heart attack from pushing too hard on the toilet.
Dad told me about this when in my youth I had gotten a haemorrhoid and didn’t know what caused it.
“Don’t push so hard. Be patient. It will come eventually,” I remember him saying.
His story certainly got me to relax in the loo. The burning pain of the haemorrhoid together with the imagined image of me dying on the toilet did the trick. I haven’t had a blowout since.
As a bonus, this insight from my Dad’s story seeped into other areas of my life as well.
Whenever I find myself pushing hard at anything – an unconscious tendency that I still have – I’m reminded to be careful and weigh the risk.
Success isn’t always worth pushing hard for.
Even more importantly, just like on the toilet, success can often be effortless when we relax and have some patience.
Don’t get me wrong – I get that there are times to push hard. For example, there are few greater blisses than collapsing in nauseated dizziness after an intense physical workout.
At the same time, when in my work and relationships I push hard to get something to happen, it usually becomes more difficult. Sometimes I’ll even blow a gasket and end up with a bigger problem than I started with!
It is in those instances of work and life, where noticing my over-zealousness, I suddenly picture myself laying dead on the bathroom floor and I ease off and just let things be.
I get patient. And I wait.
When I do this, the thing eventually happens all on its own.
- What are you pushing too hard for?
- What’s the risk of pushing so hard?
- Is it worth it?
- How could easing off actually help it to be more likely to happen?