- Frequently feel you are on alert
- Feel you have to please others
- Always feeling you have to produce results
- Question your capabilities
- Fear negative consequences if not successful
- Feel others are counting on you; Worry about rejection from others
- Competitive with others; Keep your feelings to yourself
- Feel you can’t put down the load you are carrying
80 -100—People in this range typically feel there is no relief from pressure, that they always “have to be on”, and can’t take a break. They feel burdened daily, and are always thinking about what they have to do the next day and yet are tired of “carrying the load.” They are concerned about their future at night and wake up, wondering if they will achieve their goals. Much of their working day is devoted to wondering if their boss and clients thinks well of them. They rarely feel they have job security.
Underlying these feelings are inherent pressure inducers that we all experience, but for those in this category, they are intensified because of their psychological make-up. These include their competitive nature –they always feel they have to be # 1 and “beat the other guy” or else be “weeded out” so their is always relentless pressure on them to perform better and better; their need to be accepted by others and fear of being rejected by others so they are always under the pressure of feeling they have to please others, and feeling responsible for others that often causes them to feel burdened..
Look at your responses for each item and reflect upon your reasons for your high rating. You’ll get some revelations into how the aforementioned factors influence your feelings of pressure.
40-70- –People in this range are like the above but to a lesser degree. They feel they always have something to do, they rarely take extended times to relax, worry about the future, and often feel they are behind the eight ball.
10-30: you feel in control of your life. They feel pressure in particular moments when they have to deliver the goods but do not experience daily burdensome feelings of pressure.
If you were to come to my office, I would give you five actions you can take to reduce the feelings of pressure you experience that you could do in just a few minutes. Here are a few of the things I would prescribe to you:
Focus on how good you are at something, not your ranking. Competition is a natural pressure inducer because it encourages us to try to be better than others. The tradeoff is a constant feeling that “you have to be the best,” which can create unrealistic expectations and a sense that you don’t measure up. Focusing on your own excellence, rather than beating out the other person, puts you in control of your destiny. It promotes feelings of confidence, rather than pressure anxiety
Let your values and personal expectations guide you. Literature, films and television shows are rich in story lines in which a characters feels enormous pressure to live up to the expectations of others and we relate to them because it’s such a common pressure.
Whether because of a fear of rejection or the need to be accepted, attempting to perform to meet the expectations of others helps to exacerbate pressure. It can force you to navigate a different course than you would otherwise.
Staying true to your values and honoring the goals and expectations you set for yourself are more likely to reduce the feelings of pressure you experience and free yourself from feeling you always have to be pleasing others.
Focus on meaningful purpose, not incentives. Those who pursue their passions, develop their interest and achieving a sense of purpose and meaning from their work are much more likely to experience positive emotions at work than those who focus on attaining incentives such as salaries bonuses and promotions. Paradoxically, those who focus excessively on attaining incentives or losing them are more likely to feel stress, anxiety, and fear— emotions that intensify feelings of pressure that, ironically, inhibit their capabilities to attain the very incentives they desire don’t, as well as greater productivity.
If you are starting out in the work world, follow your genuine interests— any pressure you experience will be buffered by the feelings of curiosity and fulfillment that come from following your passions. If you’ve been in the work world for a while, try to rekindle your purpose.
Appreciate what you “have,” not what you “have not.” Experiencing joy is a great minimizer of pressure. Appreciate the people, events, opportunities, and achievements that enrich your life, but which so many of us often take for granted. Focusing on what you don’t have will likely increase your feelings of pressure. To feel pressure-less, take a few minutes each day to appreciate what you have. You’ll actually be stimulating the reward center in your brain which creates pleasurable feelings so you’ll will feel calmer, happier, and more relaxed.
We all live in the Age of Pressure but you don’t have to let it cook you —you can depressurize!