Are you being shoved?
Recently, I began studying with a new yoga teacher. This teacher is compassionate but pushes me hard. She makes it difficult to attain my goals. New goals that I did not have before I met her. Contrast this to a prior teacher, who wanted to be compassionate but was not. This former teacher made it impossible to achieve my goals, but still told me to try anyway because by trying, I’d be better off than I was. My new teacher is a pusher. She’s the girl lending a hand down to help me climb up the stairs so I can enjoy the slide on the playground. My old teacher was a shover. This is the person shoving you off the stairs when you reach the top just to see if you can climb up again.
Being pushed can elevate us; it can take us to higher levels of understanding and appreciation of a situation. The push creates space in us, to be filled with love, compassion, drive, or any number of positive emotions. Being pushed is a great thing for three reasons: (1) it creates a clear goal we are striving to attain; (2) we gain the support of the pusher, be it a person or motivation; and (3) we are held accountable for reaching the goal by the pusher.
Being shoved only denigrates us; we are pushed back into the muck and the mud- often with little tools or support to help find our way out. While this develops a resilience to adversity within us, it is not helpful for gaining the strong sense of self and support we crave– a sense of self we need if we are going to be elevated and elevate others.
If you are in a situation that is uncomfortable, be it a relationship or a yoga pose, ask yourself:
Am I being pushed or shoved?
If you are being pushed, how lucky for you! You clearly have someone who loves you or love for yourself that is capable of fostering a healthy sense of development towards your goal.
If you are being shoved, begin seeking ways to get out of this situation- it does not serve you and you will be hurt, physically or mentally. For me, the breaking point was physical injury with my former teacher. Encouraged to continue a practice in the face of a severe hand injury, I realized this person was not pushing me from a place of compassion- they were shoving me to fit in the box they had created and couldn’t figure out what to do when I didn’t fit.
If you come to the realization that you are in an unhealthy relationship or situation and don’t want to be shoved anymore, take solace in the fact that there are better things headed your way. When I left my former teacher, I was very confused, angry and worried. I felt abandoned by the person I trusted and scared that I would never find another teacher to support me. What happened instead is that I found a teacher I felt more confident in, more trusting of, and as a result, I am becoming a stronger student, a better teacher and a more compassionate person.
It seems so simple but if you are being shoved, try to treat yourself kindly and know that this is a great experience to learn from. There will be richer opportunities in your near future.