My Three Commandments: Force Nothing. Follow Instinct. Be Loving and Grateful.


force nothing

Force Nothing. Follow Instinct. Be Loving and Grateful. This is the tattoo I have on my arm. It took me two years to find just the right words. I need this constant reminder of who I want to be. Even though I obviously have it memorized, I still read it several times a day. I require the visual reminder because I have far too many painful memories of all the times I tried to force something and landed smack dab in the middle of failure.

Let’s start with the focus of my first ‘commandment’: Force. Why do we ever choose force?

Let’s look at the literal definition of the word. Force: The noun version according to the dictionary is, “coercion or compulsion, especially with the use of threat or violence.” The verb means, “make (someone) do something against their will.” Who the hell wants a romance they have to force the other person to be in.

Whether it’s a job, friendship, romance, or a pair of jeans, it’s simply never going to work out to our liking if we have to force it.

We see examples all around us of this societal phenomenon. The man, who’s an artist, forces his way through an engineering degree so his parents are pleased and he obtains a healthy paycheck. The woman, who wants to force her lovely naturally curvaceous figures into a size zero, will work out for hours every day and barely eat a thing so she can one day have what she considers to be the perfect figure.
Since forcing any situation generally winds up in misery, why do we do it, and how do we stop?
We believe if we can bend things or people to our will and get what we want, we’ll be happy. Aadil Palkhivala, the internationally renowned co-founder of Alive and Shine Center and Purna Yoga College, has written extensively on this topic. Considered one of the finest yoga teachers in the world, he teaches students to feel. He also helps yoga teachers understand their roles better by instructing that, “Our work as yoga teachers is to free our students so they can become wholly themselves. Whether in asana or pranayama, whether in the building of relationships with self or others, our students must learn to find fulfillment through exploring the path rather than through forcing the end result. Feeling takes them into themselves. Force takes them away.”
Perhaps forcing things is a way to avoid feelings. But once we strip that away, we can see that force is suffering and feeling is joy. The stripping away requires great determination and a lot of effort.
So what’s the difference between force and effort? Effort means doing the work and seeing the payoff. If you decide you want to become a more adept photographer, you begin with what you know. If it’s nothing, that’s totally okay. Start with the basics. Read everything you can find. Apply trial and error. Ask friends who are already familiar with the proper techniques, lighting, digital effects, and how to get the action shot so it doesn’t look blurry to help you learn. When you witness your efforts paying off, it’s highly motivating and will propel you further.

Try these tips to help you resist forcing anything in your life.

  1. Be Honest. Oh, this guy again. Why does honesty always have to be a part of the equation? Because honestly allows us to understand and see the true story. Say there’s a man you’ve been dating for a year and you fight constantly and don’t have much in common. Instead of staying in misery, confront the truth that you don’t have to stay with him to avoid being alone. Decide what kind of partnership you really want for yourself and ask if you can have this with your current love interest. If the answer is no, no amount of counseling or taking up golf together is going to solve the underlying truth that you’re not right for one another. Most of us have been guilty of this at various points in our lives. When it’s right, it’s not hard. But keeping an excellent relationship requires effort. If the conclusion you arrive at is the relationship isn’t working because one or both of you isn’t putting in enough effort, then get on it. Talk about what would help each of you feel more invested and come up with new agreements that would provide you with the loving relationship you both crave. Force will be replaced with feeling and the desire to make the effort.
  2. Don’t Take It Personally. The great Don Miguel Ruiz wrote The Four Agreements to help people suffer less and live in a state of wondrous joy. The second agreement teaches us that nothing anyone does is because of anyone other than themselves. If we can apply that, only the relationships that are meant to be in our lives remain and we are content and in love with everyone around us. No healthy relationships are forced but only felt and revered. We’ve all butted heads with a co-worker, family member, friend, and lover. When a relationship has lots of conflicts and a lack of even a basic understanding of the other person’s point of view, there will be an endless struggle. When we learn to not take it personally if a relationship isn’t working, it’s much easier for us to feel at peace and avoid any blame-placing. Sometimes people simply don’t click. Deciding that’s okay, and letting go of the need for the relationship to flourish is the best answer. All healthy and thriving relationships require effort. If you don’t make time for someone or go out of your way to offer companionship and support, the relationship may not suffer strife, but it will simply go away.
  3. Be Disciplined. Discipline will look different for everyone. If you’re one that never avoids a challenge, you’ll need a different set of discipline than a chronic procrastinator. The trick is to identify where you need discipline. For instance, if you have no trouble getting up at 5 a.m. to workout, the discipline may not be in the working out, but learning to not push yourself so hard that you risk or possibly cause an injury. Very few of us are workaholics. If that’s you, then your job is to find some balance and set boundaries and be patient with yourself. I may work well with deadlines and a loose schedule, but others need the regiment of being in an office at set hours with a very defined course to their day to set them up for success. Don’t force yourself to do it a certain way. Put in the effort to figure out what works best for you. Everyone feels fantastic when they’ve completed the things they know they need to do. Learn what you need to find discipline and put in the effort to maintain it.
 By Lara Falberg

Lara Falberg

Founder at I Work Barefoot
Lara Falberg is not just a yoga sequencing and music addict. Mostly, but not entirely. She's an assistant editor and SEO consultant for Healing Lifestyles and has been teaching yoga for twelve years. Trained in Atlanta, now residing in Columbus Ohio. Her new website,, is a yoga teacher resource offering verbals cues, mini-sequences, class themes, and studio reviews. She wrote a novel, Yoga Train, about the yoga teacher training experience. Find it on Amazon for Kindle. You can follow Lara on Instagram(@iworkbarefoot), Facebook, and Twitter.
Lara Falberg

Comments are closed.