Please note that Current of Life was previously published under the title: Living Your Potential
Pressure is a necessary component of life. Without it, many things would never be accomplished. A looming deadline, for example, spurs a project to completion.
Yet sometimes we operate under a degree of pressure that is both harmful and unnecessary. This type of pervasive pressure robs us of our creativity and results in a robotic execution of responsibilities or worse, a paralytic and unproductive state of anxiety. This level of pressure is sometimes accepted too readily or even self-inflicted.
If you are only able to tap into your drive when pressure is present, you are operating under a pressure paradigm. This is setting yourself up to be reactive and dependent on specific conditions, often external.
Moving Away From or Moving Toward?
You know when pressure is operating in full force if your main motivation to act is avoiding some sort of pain. It is more proactive (and enjoyable for that matter) when you can connect with the reward of doing something rather than the price of not doing it. One way I’ve heard this described is that it’s the difference between “playing to win” (moving toward) vs. "playing not to lose" (moving away).
Which type of motivation works best? It’s been said that human beings will do just about anything to avoid pain. It is also true that even focusing on the payoff can create an internal pressure which, if not managed, could be detrimental.
Both types of motivation are effective. Pressure can be useful. Pressure can be excessive. That’s where choice comes in.
Here are four things you can do when you feel overly pressured:
Identify something you can change. At first glance, you may think that nothing in your schedule or situation can budge. Take another look and ask, “What would take the pressure off?” Challenge yourself to get creative. A surprisingly simply solution may be right in front of you.
Adjust your expectations. When you notice the pressure is internal, ask yourself, “Am I being realistic about what I expect from myself? What am I willing to adjust?”
Be good to yourself. If it is a unique time of extraordinary pressure and you are dealing with things beyond your control, start with simply acknowledging this fact. Look for small pockets of opportunity to give yourself a break.
Be aware of how often you rely on excessive pressure to motivate you. Don’t be surprised if you actually catch yourself creating pressure just as soon as you have lifted it. The unfamiliarity of having more space and time may stump you at first, however if you stay with it, the benefits are bound to kick in: more room to think, breathe, feel, and enjoy.
This week: Notice how pressure operates in your life and understand its impact.
© 2006, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to www.inthecurrent.com.
Return to Current of Life Ezine Index