That Old 'Try Hard' Habit

549412_10150764514800844_716485843_11620253_289256734_nHave you ever ‘tried hard’ to think of the movie you watched the evening before or what you ate at that restaurant last weekend? The answer just doesn’t come, and you finally decide to let it go and move on. Then a few minutes later, the answer comes seemingly out of nowhere. Does this scenario sound familiar?

Where else do you ‘try hard’? How do you use your willfulness and/or self-assertion to try to make something happen for yourself and/or others? Do you have very high standards for yourself? Is your tendency to put so much effort goes into being where you’d like to be that you live in the land of doing, doing, doing? Is working at life your norm?

Kindly, gently, and honestly, point your attention to the ‘try hard’ habit in you. Consciously get to know this aspect of yourself: what it feels like in the body, the emotions and thoughts that are attached to it, and the impact of this state on your well-being and your life as a whole.

My own experience is that when I’m in ‘try hard’ mode, I am in automatic pilot. The tension that is rooted in fear shuts down my ability to think clearly, creatively, and freshly. For instance, I notice that my writing can stop flowing naturally and easily. I’m very much in my head and feel disconnected from my heart. My breath gets shallow. I tire easily. I hear judgmental thoughts of myself and others such as “This is hard” , “This is too much work”, “I’ve got to get this right” and “Why aren’t others doing what I expect”. The pressure is on and that leads me to feeling a lack of focus rather than being  present and in my creative zone.

Rooted in fear, ‘trying hard’ is fertile ground for resistance. Being aware of the body sensations, thoughts, and feelings will help you be in the driver’s seat instead of this habit driving you. You have the choice to take a moment, breathe, and simply notice the ‘try hard’ with an open heart.

Allow the discomfort that arises from ‘trying hard’ to be what it is without trying to fix or change it. Ask that aspect of yourself: What is your gift to me? Open your heart to appreciate its positive intention. For instance, the ‘try hard’ habit in myself has taught me about determination and self-discipline, qualities that have served me well many times in my life.

With loving and accepting awareness of this habit, your heart softens so that you can be with the unfolding of your life in such a natural and beautiful way. You become more in touch with the silence within and have a greater ability to wait for that deeper, truer impulse to arise in your heart which is not based on fear or reactivity. In other words, you become aware of that which is beyond ‘trying hard’.

You gradually trust yourself to dance with life step by step, moment by moment. Life happens naturally.


Think back to the most recent time that you were in ‘try hard’ mode? I invite you to journal: What was happening in your body? What were your thoughts? How did you feel? Are there any visuals that arise? Be honest with yourself.

Take a deep breath and then physically stand up from where you are sitting. Move to a new place where you actually experience the freshness of being present. Explore your emotions, body sensations, and thoughts in this place. What is life like in the here and now?

Your body will remember this.