I see it again and again, maybe because I often do it to myself. I witness it at school, on the basketball court, and going into tests. People filled with panic as they try to be at their best. Slowly withering in the pressure-cooker they’ve made for themselves.
Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves?
We Expect Results Beyond What We Need
For most of us, our needs for survival are the only things we need to create a happy life. As long as we have food, water, shelter, good health and a few people that care about us, we can maintain a consistent level of happiness.
Unfortunately, it is easy to get lost in the realm of personal success. In this realm, achievement and certain luxuries become requirements for happiness. They say that we can’t be truly happy unless we are near our dream job, great wealth, or the most wonderful relationship.
I believe that all of these things are worth aiming at, but we can do so with the recognition that they are not necessities. Many people end up in a completely different career than they expected and still maintain very happy lives. Many people have just enough money to cover their needs and one or two wants, yet they remain in a happy state of mind. When we look at self-improvement, it’s easy to overlook the good things that don’t quite meet our expectations of the best-case scenario.
I often go through periods of unhappiness as a result of the unnecessary expectations I place upon myself. During these moments, I place too much pressure on myself to be beyond my capabilities.
Many of us would consider ourselves part of the community of people seeking and dreaming up better lives. I have experienced many of the benefits of this community firsthand, but I’ve also seen how easy it is to fall into a sea of endless expectations.
There are people out their right now making millions of dollars right now. As amazing as that sounds, most of them have made incredible sacrifices with their time, relationships, and resources. When I take the time to deeply reflect, I don’t think those sacrifices are worth it for me. Are they worth it to you?
Life Will Force You to Relish the Small Improvements
We can’t place a timeline on our success, because success usually takes far longer than we expect it to.
Most of us are terrible at judging how long our long-term goals will take. We underestimate the steps involved in the process and don’t quite recognize how long things can take to adjust to our actions.
For example, I’ve been trying to learn a handstand for about a week now, and every day I think “this could be the day”. I’ve yet to successfully hold a handstand. It will happen someday, but it has taken a little longer than I expected.
We Create Pressure by Running from Our Doubts
I think we often try to ignore our doubts and pretend we aren’t having them. We either want to live by the illusion that achieving the next goal will solve all our problems or we think we can learn to expect so much from ourselves that doubts have no room to seep through. As much as we might wish this were true, it isn’t the case.
We are all going to fail. This makes all our doubts immensely important. Imagine if we went into everything with no thought of what would happen if we failed. We would all take on tasks with consequences far greater than we could handle. As much as we want to get rid of our doubts, the best we can do is to learn how to manage these doubts and use them for good. What if your doubt, led you to create an amazing safety net for your business or your personal life?
People that have a reasonable amount of doubt often prepare themselves better than those that try to ignore them. Doubts bring up the potential problems we might run into. These problems must be addressed if we hope to do our best. Not acknowledging these problems can only allow us to achieve a small bit of success before we run into a massive failure.
Pressure Can Be a Good Thing, as Long as We Use It Correctly
The pressure we place upon ourselves can help us reach our greatest goals, as long as we manage its effects. We can expect ourselves to prepare adequately and work to the best of our abilities. We can use pressure to maintain consistency toward our goals and hold ourselves accountable when we don’t. We don’t, however, benefit from the pressure of being perfect or putting on the best performance the world has ever seen. We can’t expect ourselves to perform beyond our abilities, or live beyond our current means. We can only perform up to our level of preparation. Pressures to live a certain lifestyle or match someone else are unnecessary and often take away from or lives.
Pressure can be a tool or a weapon. Knowing when and where to place a little pressure upon ourselves can enhance parts of our life without tearing down other areas of our well-being.
Mind Cafe in Your Inbox
Want to stay up to date with our top-performing posts each week? Sign up for email updates by following this link.