There’s a big difference between pushing ourselves forward and being pulled toward the future, our goals, or our passions. Can you sense the difference?

I’m known among my clients for pestering them about their use of words like “should,” “shouldn’t,” and “need to” in making choices and I’ve written about these external motivators in articles, books and blogs. When we use these words, we’re generating an outside pressure on ourselves to do something. When we tell ourselves, “I have to do the laundry,” “I’ve got to lose weight,” or “I need to finish college,” it’s as if a finger is jabbing at our backs and prodding us forward. Think of the times you’ve been on the receiving end of a push—on line for a concert, getting on a bus, or being crowded by the person behind you at the supermarket checkout. How did it feel being pushed forward by them? I’m hard pressed (pun intended) to believe that you enjoyed the feeling. Who does? Notice the feelings of annoyance to strong anger that occurred.

If you usually pressure yourself to “get things done,” no wonder you don’t do them. No one enjoys being poked in the back, so why should you? On the other hand, think of the times you’ve been pulled or drawn toward something—a painting across a room, an exotic destination in a travel brochure, a stranger you’d like to get to know better, or an activity that sounds like fun. Being drawn toward something is a delightful, joyful experience, the opposite of what you experience when pushing yourself. When you’re drawn to something, you feel yourself almost automatically taking steps toward it.

When making major life decisions, be sure to look for that tug in a certain direction. You can tell when it happens because it makes you eager to act. When you’re pushing yourself, the force is coming from behind you. By allowing yourself to be pulled forward in life, all the energy is coming from ahead of you. You may be choosing a career, a move to another city, whether to marry or divorce, or what to eat. In these instances, there’s often a force pushing from behind you with mock authority as if it knows what’s best for you versus a force that’s magnetically drawing you forward for a reason you might not even know at the time.

Ignore being prodded by what you think you “should” or “shouldn’t” do. Never think or use these words. Ban them from your vocabulary and, instead, open up wide to being drawn into your future. If you haven’t tried this method of living, you don’t know what you’re missing. Do it, and you’ll be happier and intuitive eating will become a lot easier.