Experience less stress in an instant – learn how to recognise these 8 sneaky signs you’re putting too much pressure on yourself (and how to stop the sabotage!).
If we want less stress, it’s time to free ourselves from the trap of “I have to”.
So often, we get stressed because we tell ourselves we have to do stuff that we don’t really want to do:
- We have to go to work every day at a job we despise, because we have to pay our bills
- We have to look ‘perfect’ all the time, because we have to get approval from other people
- And we have to stay busy 24/7, because we have to get everything done
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted just reading that list.
When we dig deeper, however, we often discover that our “have to”s is simply a list of all the excuses we use to keep ourselves stuck, small, and (frankly) miserable.
We create stress for ourselves because you feel like you have to do it. You have to. I don’t feel that anymore.– Oprah winfrey
We subconsciously sabotage ourselves, because our little bubble of safety and familiarity is comfortable. Even if it’s not ideal, we at least know what to expect.
Anything we do to push ourselves outside of that zone – even if it’s to go after what we say we want – can be seriously scary.
Of course, external pressure does also exist.
Our partners, bosses, parents, and peers can massively pile it on, and attempt to swamp us with their expectations of who they think we should (or how they want us to) be.
But the most common – and most insidious – type of pressure is the kind we put on ourselves. And the key to less stress is to learn how to let this go.
8 sneaky signs of self-imposed pressure
1.Telling yourself you’re not good enough
If we don’t feel like we’re enough as we are, we’ll constantly keep tweaking ourselves, hoping to finally get there one day. But what’s ‘good enough’ is completely subjective. We end up on an endless and exhausting quest for perfection – unless we decide that, actually, we’re fabulous just the way we are.
2. Comparing yourself to others
It’s so easy to look at other people and wish we were more like them; especially when we’re presented with their drool-worthy highlight reel on social media. Most people don’t broadcast their failures, but remember that if they’re human, they’ve definitely experienced them.
3. Setting super high expectations
While it’s great to strive for excellence, it can go way too far – and we become extremely critical, judgmental, and demanding towards ourselves and others. There’s a fine balance between wanting to create amazing work, and never wanting to accept a project as being “done”.
4. Being afraid to say no
If we worry excessively about what might happen if we say no, we’ll be inclined to take on far too much (and others will exploit our poor boundaries to take full advantage). Saying no is vital to protect our precious time and energy.
5. Trying to please everyone
First of all, this is impossible. Second of all, attempting it is exhausting; it’s great to want to make people happy (in theory) but if sole our motivation is to please others, rather than to live as our authentic self, we’ll soon run into trouble.
6. Giving up before you really try
If we think that we’ll fail before we even start, we’re never going to allow ourselves to go for what we really want. Instead of quitting at the first hurdle, we can practice ‘embracing the mess’, taking the risk to go after what we want, and see where it gets us.
7. Trying to control for all possibilities
We never have control in this life, not really. We co-create with the universe – and let’s face it, we never know for certain that we’ll make it to the end of the day alive, without any kind of tragic accident occurring. There’s always something that could go wrong. We gotta relax into this uncertainty.
8. Never being satisfied
This can only ever lead to an absolutely miserable existence. If we never allow ourselves to feel satisfied, we’ll always be unfulfilled, constantly chasing happiness. Instead, we can train ourselves to be grateful for what we do have, and for the progress we’ve made so far.
Experience less stress & take the pressure off
To unburden ourselves of self-imposed pressure, we simply have to remember one simple truth:
We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it (including how much pressure we put on ourselves).
We can quit forcing ourselves to do activities that drain us of our life force energy. And – if we can’t simply quit – we can empower ourselves by turning our “have to” into a “choose to”.
For example, “I have to go to this job I hate so much because I have to pay my bills” becomes “I’m choosing to go to this job so I can afford to support myself while I look for something more aligned with my purpose”.
If you’re reading this (meaning you have access to the internet and a digital device), you’re likely privileged enough that there isn’t much you truly have to do in this life.
So I invite you to see life as a glorious game.
See how much fun you can have while navigating the murky waters of life.
See how much joy and pleasure you can inject into each day, despite the challenges that come with it.
And see if, ever so slowly, that self-imposed pressure starts to lift, and you can breathe deeply again.