Pressure Overload: How to Release the Internalized Pressure of Expectations

When Plans Go Awry

“You can’t move back home at 29! You’re a failure!”

“Damn, you should be further ahead by now. Look at everyone else around you…why are you NEVER making progress?”

“You can’t even identify what you want to do with your life by this point? What a shame.”

The sentences above are all things I heard when things heavily shifted for me a few short years ago; a little harsh, right?

But the caveat to this is… I didn’t hear them from other people, nor to this day, have I specifically heard any of those (or similar) sentences spoken to me directly (thankfully). This was the voice of my own ego self; an internal voice that had a lot of power over me.

Despite the external support I was getting from family and close friends (or even the casual coffee shop acquaintance I would strike up conversations with once in a great while), for a bit there, a lot of that support seemed to rift against this thought and feeling of “not being where I should.”

Though this was a dominant thought early on in my personal awakening process, I did identify it rather quickly. What I didn’t realize was how much it was running within me as an underlying “track” that was playing. In other words, despite identifying it, I wasn’t recognizing how much it was driving my actions on a more subconscious level.

For instance, my mind was so often saying “I HAVE to make progress today.”…and of course, if I didn’t or if I got too distracted and ended up completing nothing, it would turn into another “haha, damn, you failed again today!”

What a part of me thought I needed was to “succeed at all costs” to prove something to the world or myself that I was worthy and that I “made it.”

What I REALLY needed at the time was rest and healing and to be easy on myself. And chocolate.

It’s easy to remember those days where we hit a big milestone. But don’t forget about all the hours and minutes in between that allowed you to get to those points on the journey. There is so much joy to be found within the crevices of the larger picture, if you choose to allow for it and focus on that instead of “where I should be” all the time.

For whatever reason, I had developed this mentality that I needed to push myself to the brink over and over, day in and day out…to achieve and succeed and to feel validated. What I was somewhat blinded to though was how much soul and mental energy that was taking from me. Though I feel we’re all built a little different in terms of how we generate our energy, I also wasn’t in tune with how I feel I best operate (looking back on it now).

I feel like some people do thrive on the chase and are able to get up and get at it like clockwork. But that’s not me. I’ve come to realize that I carry a system that NEEDS time to recharge alone and values that. I acknowledged that I needed better boundaries as well instead of just saying yes to every request that came my way (even at the expense of my own energy). I now better recognize when people or situations drain my energy, and when people or situations add to it.

It’s kind of a fun game now in some ways (being in-tune with those vibes), but for awhile there, I didn’t realize I wasn’t truly honoring what my needs were for my mind, body, and soul (especially during a deeper healing process and transformation).

Don’t get me wrong, it feels great to give and I often receive great joy from when I am able to do so. After all, what you give out, generally comes back in due time; but there is a fine line there (and is often said nowadays, “It’s hard to give from an empty cup.”).

Anyways, back to self-talk and pressure. As I began to go through this deeper transformation process and started to become more aware of the programs that were playing on repeat, one of those thoughts I had mentioned earlier was “not being where I should.”

For me, the pressure that had built up in me around this was born from how I envisioned my life when I was in my late teens or early 20’s. My “plan” in my mind was that by the time I was 30, I figured I’d be doing well in the graphic design and creative world, working for a large agency, potentially as a creative director or something of that nature. I figured I’d have my own house and maybe even be married by that point, among many other “life milestones.”

When year 29 came around and I was nowhere near that trajectory anymore, it hit hard (hence the “I failed” mentality). This caused me to be quite hard on myself for awhile. Though despite the painstaking process of transformation the last few years, I’m extremely excited for where things are potentially heading. This leads me to the point of this article though:

How do YOU talk to yourself and are you putting unnecessary pressure on your conscience?

Do you beat yourself up for hours, or even days, when you make a mistake? (I feel like if you’re an empath or carry a sensitive nervous system, this can be difficult to navigate at times in my experience).

Are you in that position in your life where you look around you and you can’t seem to stop comparing your situation to others that you perceive are “succeeding” or “thriving” in life?

Do you find yourself just putting immense pressure on yourself for no other reason than you feel like you’re failing?

How do you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror on a given day? Do you feel love and confidence toward yourself? Do you feel anger and resentment toward yourself? Is it easy to smile to yourself, or are you carrying any past guilt, shame, frustration, etc more often than not?

Wired brain connections floating above hands

What can you do to flip your thinking? How can you reframe so you can jump to a higher timeline of energetic vibration?

Well, I have a few tips or steps, and maybe these will help a bit if you resonated to anything I said above! So here we go:

1. Recognition

So it’s probably difficult to know if you’re putting too much pressure on yourself if you’re unaware of it. Like many other roads to change, it starts with inward recognition of a pattern of thought or habit. Maybe friends or family recognize it or mirror this fact to you consistently in some way, and if so, maybe that is happening for a reason. This could be one way to help you see the pattern in the first place. Or perhaps you continue a cycle of patterns long enough until you’re fed up with the cycle and become prompted or guided to make a different choice.

If you are aware that you might be putting too much pressure on yourself, take a step back and simply ask yourself “Why?”

Do you often compare yourself to other people’s situations or successes that you feel would be more ideal in comparison to your current life experience? Are you just frustrated that you feel like there isn’t clarity around what feels resonant for your soul in terms of what you do in the world? Do you feel like you don’t deserve success, a great relationship, or a nice vacation for some reason?

It could be a multitude of reasons, but chances are, there is a core wound within that could be driving you to a lot of negative self-talk and putting too much pressure on yourself.

Yes, of course SOME pressure can be good at times and can be a great motivator. However, what I’m attempting to get at is that I feel so many of us take it a little too far upon ourselves to “have it all figured out.” Without recognizing the driving forces behind our stresses and internalized pressures, it becomes much more difficult to remedy it.

2. Choose new affirmations and repeat often

It may take some time to get used to if you don’t speak affirmations to yourself, but in Law of Attraction and spiritual circles, it is often talked about that envisioning, aligning, and manifesting a reality that you want to experience is possible by “being as if.” I also feel like a lot of that starts with how you talk to yourself.

First off, to my understanding and from my experience with this concept, “being as if” means to energetically align to a vibration; to match a circumstance that you’re wanting to experience, assuming that in your current physical reality, the reality you aspire for does not currently physically exist right before your eyes. This is something I may dive into further in other posts or content, but hopefully this lays the groundwork a little bit.

For example (and sticking to the “too much pressure” theme), perhaps you find yourself saying or thinking things like “I should be in a relationship or married already” or “I should’ve had my career path figured out by now!”

Both of those phrases alone carry a lot of pressure! Pressure to succeed. Pressure to live up to expectations (possibly set by elders, friends, society, yourself, etc). If you stay in that mindset, it doesn’t give you a lot of breathing room.

In this particular scenario, instead of saying things like “I should/should’ve”, find some phrases to talk to yourself more kindly with. This in turn may help you create some inner confidence, release pressure off of yourself in the present moment, and allow for better energetic flow. Also, when saying affirmations, do your best to FEEL those positive phrases with gratitude, as if those feelings or scenarios are already present in your life. Example phrases in this circumstance could include:

  • I am aligning to the highest version of me and ideas flow to me easily
  • I am worthy and confident
  • I release pressure and expectations from myself to have everything figured out
  • I am right on time (even if the clock says differently) (sidenote: If you like a reminder like this, I made some artwork using this phrase that can be purchased on a tote bag, mug, or canvas print!).

I am right on time affirmation canvas wall art

Affirmations are great to repeat often, and I feel that over time, you will begin to reprogram your mind to help move past some of these blocks, or at a minimum, you’ll begin to catch yourself more often when you do speak negatively towards yourself.

3. Baby steps

“Take the leap! Take the LEAP!”

Don’t get me wrong, giant leaps are great and sometimes necessary and can feel extremely empowering (and I often encourage people to find ways to make those leaps).

But so often we can find ourselves not making significant progress during a particular day or month or certain period of time. When this inevitability happens, we may start comparing our day to day progress (or perceived lack of) to the bigger leaps we made in the first place and not “feeling” like we’re getting anywhere; or we’ll start comparing ourselves to people “ahead of us” per se.

More and more of this pressure may build up, and eventually we’ll get frustrated and inflexible with ourselves, leading to lots of internal doubts and lack of confidence about what we’re doing in the first place and why.

It is during these times that focusing on “baby steps” is so crucial. Find joy within the process and within the intricacies of a given day.

Maybe you were only able to complete 1 paragraph of a blog post you wanted to fully write in one day. Good for you, that’s progress!

Maybe you actually needed to take that nap! Instead of feeling guilt for doing so because you felt like you should’ve been working on your side-project, congratulate yourself for honoring your body and soul! Self-care is important, and now you can really show up to your project with more energy.

It’s easy to remember those days where we hit a big milestone. But don’t forget about all the hours and minutes in between that allowed you to get to those points on the journey. There is so much joy to be found within the crevices of the larger picture, if you choose to allow for it and focus on that instead of “where I should be” all the time.

4. Present moment awareness

You may be aware that in this very moment, you’re sitting here reading this article. But do you find your mind wandering to past or future scenarios? If so, you’re not fully present ;).

When the mind wanders to “what if” land, you’re essentially tuning into past or future timelines outside of this now moment. So anytime you think about “where you should be,” you’re NOT being present. However, this does not mean you can’t imagine or ponder how you want your future to feel so you can eventually manifest that.

What I’m saying is, if your mind is energetically attached to a potential future outcome while you’re in the midst of doing a task or making a decision, it is basically robbing you from feeling or sensing the present moment fully.

Attaching to future thoughts or past outcomes can really fluctuate our moods or present moment decision making. Quite frankly, it’s a big cause of anxiety in my past experience.

For me, this is especially noticeable when I start to feel bodily triggers caused from conscious or subconscious thoughts surrounding a present moment scenario, person, or potential future outcome. Granted, often those triggers are remnants of deeply integrated fears or feelings that need to be transmuted and dealt with, so that is a positive of that.

But what I’m getting at is if you’re finding yourself feeling scattered or not as mentally present as you could be, try to identify where you can hone that in a bit. Because if you’re in the midst of feeling a bit lost in your life or feeling unsure of what to do next, you don’t want to succumb to making a decision due to the fact that you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to feel like you need to be somewhere else right now.

In other words, tune in and find what aligns for you or feels best for you right now. Don’t make a choice to do something to get you where the “past you” thought you should’ve been by this time in your life, if that makes sense.

When we make decisions to try and appease to any other reason that is outside of soul’s deepest desires (whether this is to follow a deemed societal expectation or trying to fill an energetic void with something external), you will quickly or eventually realize where you will have to course correct.

But that’s ok too because in this game called life, we’re here to explore, grow, learn, align, and expand. That’s going to look and feel a bit different for everyone.

All I’m saying is, let go of the pressure to have it all figured out! Be present, love yourself and others, and let the divine connections and power you have within guide you step by step to the next present moment.

Follow the breadcrumbs!

Namaste,

Corey

 

Corey is a freelance creative and spiritual explorer, coach, and consultant who enjoys deep conversation, excavating for deeper meanings in the universe, and uplifting others by helping them thrive in their own lives. He loves inspiring through writing or creating content, but also revels in the arts in its many forms.

Follow me on Instagram, and please subscribe to my YouTube! 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed therapist, practitioner, doctor, or lawyer. Any advice given that is potentially related to legal, therapeutic or medical professions is all in good faith, but should not be taken as professional advice. I speak from my experiences in hopes that it will help you and others take steps to create a better life. Please see the full disclaimer here for more information.

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