Go Ahead, Give It A Lil’ Shove

Listen to Kate read: GO Ahead, Give It A Lil’ Shove

Where we learn that the use of force
can be both gentle and effective at the same time

My favorite word is GO. You can proclaim it like a battle charge as you wage into a space that you’d rather not be in yet you have to be in so let’s get it over with. You can also whisper it to yourself, that final assertion that, hey, stud, you got this. There’s probably a legit million ways you can use it to empower yourself and empower others. It’s a powerful and, yes, empowering word. #highlyrecommend

The word GO is also a great reminder to move. To get up from all that sitting that so many of us do in front of computers and in front of TVs every day and – if you’re able-bodied – we can get up and boogie, or take a run, or a walk, or stretch or just move our limbs in a direction that they haven’t in (probably) so many minutes that counting our stasis by number of hours (let’s say 3) seems like a more digestible time period to account for, versus the depths of the reality that you’ve been on your tush for 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

I’ve also got a kids-these-days ol’ biddy reason for loving the word GO, and that’s that it’s a motivating antidote to boredom of any kind. You think there’s nothing to do, then GO. Move. Take a hike (which I mean in a non-dismissive way, like, seriously, go walk on a trail and take a hike in a park or a forest). Oh, you say you’re unable to physically move about at this time but, still, you’re borrrrrred? Then GO and wrap your head around a topic that you have some curiosity about. Or GO do a crossword. Or a puzzle. Or paint your nails. Or paint your partner’s nails. Or your kid’s nails. It’s just that one of my peeves is when anyone of any age proclaims that they are borrrrred and that there is no possible cure for this boredom. There’s always something to be found – even if it’s not obvious in the moment – if you can just muster up some energy to GO, seek, find (it).

Now I know we’re all familiar with that fussy feeling that can accompany feeling bored. There might be a sprinkle of monotony going on that contributes to that boredom, or maybe it’s more like not having the will or interest to make the effort to combat that boredom. Like, your brain is saying, “I don’t wanna be bored and I can think of a few things that I might enjoy doing instead of lying prostrate on this couch, but…uhhhh

What you’re missing and what needs to be located is: THE FORCING FACTOR

The definition of the word force is:

strength or energy exerted or brought to bear : cause of motion or change : active power

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

How energizing is that in and of itself? All in one word! It almost boosts me more than the word GO (almost, not quite, tho perhaps a close second).

When you delve further into the word as it is used in the mathematical world, it’s looked at as a technique, as in “the forcing technique is an extremely flexible and powerful tool.” It’s as if a personality has now been brought to the use of the word, where one can be practiced and perhaps even cunning with their use of force in any aspect. 

Just as it is with the word GO, there’s a delicateness within force that is necessary for a desired outcome and which belies the presumed hard surface of one’s “forcing technique.”  If the force exerted is too rushed and rather blunt in nature, the movement – the GO – can go off the desired course and it might be difficult if not impossible to get it back on track. Too light, too casual, too throw-away (as in a comment that might not have any heart in it, like, “It’s a sunny day, you could GO outside” delivered by someone just sticking their head in to the room) and the one result you’ll get is a sigh and a-slump-down-further of whatever entity that forcing technique is directed at.

No, if you are looking to perfect your own forcing technique when you utter the word GO to someone – even if that someone is yourself –and if you want it to be mathematically true in that your technique guarantees consistency that is inline with your intentions, then you must bring your full attention to your subject before any sort of force is used. By taking the time to  pause and be intentional in all your actions, by taking a moment to just be curious so to understand where that person is ‘at.’ Are they anxious? Or sad? Or frustrated? Let’s say you sense a deep tiredness in their being that you can then bolster as you say, with awareness and intention, “Since it’s a sunny day, what if you GO outside and take a cat-nap in the sun?”

Paul Cohen, the mathematician who first used the concept of a “forcing technique,” worked in the very foundation of the branch of mathematics called Set Theory. The origin of his development of forcing was because there needed to be something independent occurring at a point in a set where, essentially, a decision needed to be made. 

You see, this concept of forcing, this technique, there’s a necessity to that force also being delicate. Taking a moment of consideration, of thoughtfulness, to be precise in the delivery of the force behind that beautiful word GO will all but guarantee that the subsequent movement will then bring about the desired effect. In Set Theory as in IRL. I strongly believe that having grace in your forceful words doesn’t lessen the punch of them, it actually just grounds them, and brings a reasonability to their direction.

Thanks math, you’re the best.


  • “I strongly believe that having grace in your forceful words doesn’t lessen the punch of them, it actually just grounds them, and brings a reasonability to their direction.” I have found this to be true in my life again and again. Force is ineffective without the right conditions. Thanks, Kate!

    • Yes, exactly! And you’re welcome. This is the perfect way to approach a difficult conversation as opposed to dodging or plowing into it with undue force. By taking a few moments of reflection to gather your words of choice (and tone), your intentions will actually land where you want them to – as opposed to being met with a wall of resistance. I am so glad that rang true for you, Rebecca!

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