Too much pressure causes stress. Stress can make us ill. Since 1990, the number of sick leaves for emotional distress has more than doubled. Job stress has been declared one of the biggest threats of the century by the World Health Organization (WHO). Stress and pressure have long entered our private lives as well.
Often, we can tell that we feel under pressure when our sentences start with: “I have to…” and “I should…”
Here are a few examples for self-made pressure:
It makes sense to put some pressure on yourself. If we had no goals, our life would probably fall into pieces. It becomes a problem if we tell us too many of those “I have to…” sentences. Too much self-made pressure results in a cranky mood, depression, or even physical illness. And it makes us less productive and hinders our progress.
To prevent this from happening to you, just follow the simple tip I will introduce to you:
If you want to feel more relaxed, it’s helpful to take a few steps back and look at your situation from a distance. You might feel like there are many things you have to do. In reality, you don’t need to do anything.
You probably think that sounds crazy. Cross your heart! Is someone making you cleaning up the garage? Or is your boss pointing a loaded gun at your head? Don’t we all know enough people who flout all rules and just do what they feel like? Obviously, this is possible, even though one could argue it’s probably not desirable.
There are only scarcely any things in life we HAVE to do. We have to die, and we have to breathe, eat, drink and sleep.
These are biological necessities we have to fulfill.
We do the other things because
Many people feel trapped in a cage of duties and necessities. A cage of things they have to do but do not want to do.
That we have to do all of this stuff is only one way of looking at it. Another way of thinking will make you go through life more relaxed and more productive. It can be trained.
The trick nearly sounds too easy. But it works:
Replace “I have to … “ thoughts with “I want to … “. You can say: “I have to go to work.” That will make you feel forced or even under pressure. You feel like a victim of life or the circumstances.
You can also say: “I want to go to work so that I can pay the mortgage and offer a comfortable life to my kids.” That sends an entirely different message to your brain. Your brain will release different hormones that will make you feel better.
I have to = force and pressure
I want to = freedom and self-determination
When you tell yourself “I have to…” a lot of energy and joy of life gets lost.
But when you say “I want to…because…” it is an expression of power. Your back straightens, your chin lifts, and you feel that you are leading your life.
The next time you catch yourself thinking: “Oh no, I have to do this and that…”, ask yourself:
You can regain your freedom by realizing that you do not have to do anything. But that you want many things.
Not only will you feel more in control and be more aware of which decision you made why and which consequences you signed up for. You will also discover many tasks you thought you “had to…” that are not necessary at all.
Through the shift of mindset, a lot of the pressure we are facing is falling off because we stop fighting. It’s also a great first step towards an ideal work-life balance and effective time management.
To want something is remarkably better than to have to. But “wanting” can still cause pressure. Because if we fail to achieve what we wanted, we might feel dissatisfied. Especially, when we feel like we are not advancing with our goals.
Again, to want something and the dissatisfaction of not achieving it is not a bad thing in itself. Discontent is often the driving force that enables us to make changes and finally grow.
However, sometimes we overdo it. For instance, when we obsess about something or want to do too many things at once. In that case, the dissatisfaction grows to an unhealthy amount that is not helping us to advance, but hinders and potentially harms us.
Here is a linguistic trick that can bring relief:Instead of telling yourself “I want to lose weight” or “I want to make more money” reword it like this:
Words are powerful tools that make a difference in our brains. To prefer something leads to a more relaxed feeling. To prefer something implies that you want something – but in a laid-back way.
Sporadically, we fail because we do not try hard enough – often we fail because we try too hard. Or too much at once. In that case, this little linguistic trick will work miracles for you.
Words are magic.
Changing the way you talk will change the way you think, and finally, the way you feel, act and the kind of results you achieve.
Watch: Dr. Mark Goulston - How to influence pushy people to treat you right