Are You Pushing Yourself Too Hard?

Three Signs of Self-Induced Stress and a Super Power Remedy

Christine Arylo

It’s the American way to set goals. We find something important to us, and we say yes to doing whatever it takes to achieve said goal, because ultimately we believe that reaching our goal will make us feel more happy, satisfied or supported. And so like good achievers and doers, we go for it, work our way to making the goal a reality and for a while we feel good about our progress. But then something happens along the way that stops feeling so good as we start to realize that to reach the vision we’ve set in our mind for how this goal must look and when it must be achieved, we will have to work a lot harder.

And so we push ourselves. We put on our superwoman or superman capes, power up, exhaust ourselves and sacrifice our self-care. We push ourselves to keep working and put the things that replenish and nourish us on hold. No time for moving our bodies; we’re glued to our computer screens. Our intentions to eat healthy get pushed aside as caffeine and sugar become a major food group in our diet. Fun activities get pushed off because we can’t play until the work is done. As a result, the goal we originally set out to achieve that is supposed to create more happiness ends up creating more stress. And in the end, even if we achieve our goal, we are too depleted to actually celebrate and enjoy it.

The challenge is that most of us don’t know we are pushing ourselves too hard until we have already gotten to the “bad place”—the land of the crabby, the self-critical and the unhappy version of ourselves. The first step in transforming self-induced pressure into a more supportive, sustainable way of living is awareness and knowing the signs of when we are pushing ourselves too hard.

We have to be willing to say “Enough! I’ve done enough. No more.”

Three signs we are pushing ourself too hard:

Crabbiness. Ask, “Am I feeling crabby?” Pushing hard creates internal pressure inside our physical, mental and psychic fields, making us feel like we have no time or space for ourselves in our own lives. Starved for play and pleasure, we need to push back on the pressure we feel on the inside, and so we become crabby on the outside.

Self-criticism. Ask, “Am I judging myself against unrealistic expectations?” We set expectations that are totally unrealistic, then judge ourselves for falling short, and our mind swells with pressure-filled thoughts like, “I should … Why can’t I… If I could just…”

Self-sacrifice. Ask, “Am I putting my happiness and self-care on hold?” When we keep working and pushing for the day life will slow down so we can rest, we live for the future instead of in the now, and we deplete ourselves and rob ourselves of our happiness. While we may not be able to take a seven-day cruise during times when we have a lot going on, waiting for a vacation to take a break isn’t the solution. Even machines get to take a break each day.

While there may be moments we need to rally and push to the finish line, pushing and working extra hard should be the exception, instead of the norm. Our operating system for life should not be pushing ourselves hard.  So why do we push? Bad training. Most of us don’t know that pushing isn’t the only choice. There is a second option. When the pressure starts pouring on, instead of pushing, we can choose to pause. We can release the “superperson cape”, refuse to live at the unsustainable, pressure cooker pace and pause just long enough to check in with our inner wisdom to find a different, more sustainable and supportive way to operate, where we can take care of ourselves and take care of what is important to us.

While it would be wonderful to have a fairy godmother that would descend from the clouds every time we found ourselves in the pressure cooker to wave her magic wand and make it all better, the truth is we have to be willing to do our lives differently. When we find ourselves at the choice point, where we feel the pressure to do, be and have it all, instead of sucking it up and pushing through, driving ourselves like workhorses, we need to stop, pause, breathe and say no to sacrificing our happiness and health.

There will always be more to do, achieve and take care of. We have to be willing to say “Enough! I’ve done enough. No more.”

Madly in Love with MeThen, instead of feeling guilty, we feel good that we’ve made a choice for our own self-sustainability. Connected to an inner feeling of self-love, instead of crabbiness, self-criticism and self-sacrifice, we can check in with our inner wisdom to reflect, reassess and realign to find the path that helps us achieve our goals, but not at the cost of our own happiness or health. When we give enough, instead of giving in excess, everyone is happier and better off.

Christine Arylo is a former corporate executive, self-admitted recovering achievement junkie and doing-addict who now guides men and women to transform their pressured-filled lives into sustainable lifestyles they love. She is the bestselling author of Madly In Love With Me: The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend and Choosing Me Before We, The EveryWoman’s Guide to Life And Love. Read more at

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Qigong Healing:

Five thousand years ago, Chinese medicine said, “Qi moves the blood.”


Some people are more welcoming and tolerant of change than others. Those that enjoy an opportunity to learn and grow personally or professionally will see it as a good thing.

Inaugural Bison Crawl to Celebrate National Bison Day

These massive animals, characterized by long, shaggy brown coats, have poor eyesight, but acute hearing and an excellent sense of smell.

Blending Business and Spirituality

Fetzer started a long preoccupation with radio in 1922 and built an empire to become one of the 400 richest Americans by participating in new communication technology, including radio, television and even cable.


Lisa Nichols, the keynote speaker for the Celebrate Your Life event, from June 8 through 11 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, is a popular motivational speaker and media personality.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Hamsa by Celine Leora Expands Beauty Product Line

Two dynamic new beauty and skin care options are being offered by Hamsa by Celine Leora.

Learn About Summer Boating Opportunities

Highland Park’s North Shore Yacht Club (NSYC) is hosting an open house at the Park Avenue beach to demonstrate some of this summer’s recreational opportunities on Lake Michigan.

Solay Starts New Wellness Club

Solay Wellness, which operates a one-of-a-kind therapeutic salt room in Skokie, has started a new I Am SO WELL Club.

Learning to Decode Our Bodies and Find Happiness

Seldar Atamov is recognized as a gifted cellular-level healer.

A Deeper Look Into (Not) Sleeping

Some people wake up and say, “Why am I always so tired?” Sleep apnea is a disorder that has repercussions far beyond loud snoring.

Fun, Food and Fitness at Women’s Expo

Check up on the best ways to stay fit and healthy this summer at the second annual Cumulus Radio Chicago Women’s Wellness Expo.