Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Push and Push Back!
I have objected at times to the idea of push/pushing and didn't exactly know why. The push I refer to is the one people do with themselves or others to get them over a hurdle or fear or hump. I remember the moment that I first consciously objected to the idea was when a teacher of mine suggested I push my work as a painter. It felt wrong. I remember that it occurred to me at the time that pushing my work would just make it pushy, and I didn't want that.
I also learned one thing later as a teacher, and still later as a parent; that force creates resistance, that pushing makes for pushing back. We've all felt it from early on, when someone pushes us all we want to do is push back.
There are lots of reasons why pushing is not a good idea and usually produces the opposite of what we hope for. I always use the horse to water proverb because it helps make the point that nothing gets accomplished by pushing. The horse drinks when it wants to and that that is not only as it should be, but what is good and right. The horse is free to drink when it is ready to drink and this brings us to the real truth in all of this, to the magic word: freedom. Freedom is what is being safeguarded through resistance. Freedom is our greatest treasure! It is worth pushing back for!
So is there anything we can do instead of pushing? When we push we not only make it about us, we prove it is about us(listen up Tiger Moms)! When we make it about the person we wanted to push instead of ourselves, the difference is automatic; we acknowledge their control, not ours, and all that is left is to encourage. Encouraging might seems like a fine line, but it makes all the difference. Encouragement gives strength and confidence to that person whose freedom we wish to preserve. Encourage is the difference between teaching to fish and providing fish, between helping someone or doing if for them. The courage belongs to them! Encourage is our responsibility as parents, teachers, mentors!
So what about when we are pushing ourselves you may ask? No problem, because when we make things about us, we are really talking about ego. When we push ourselves it is our ego that is trying to push us around. It is merely a question of disarming the ego by showing it that is is in everyone's best interest to let the horse drink when it wants to drink!
It is worth adding that this is why it is impossible to teach art. You take away an artist's freedom and they have nothing. However You can encourage art, as we all know, and that makes the difference. In fact, we can even encourage ourselves!
All of this explains why almost no one who was pushed to play the piano ever ends up playing one, and what a shame!