Turn on the computer, look at your phone, or open any magazine and you are bombarded with the flawless skin of a model or celebrity. Check social media and once again you see a friend is engaged to a man that looks like a model in photos or someone looking perfect on their beach vacation. Living in a time when life is lived online, it is hard to avoid putting pressure on yourself to keep up appearances. We may feel pressure to be perfect at parenting, being a child, wife, manager, and friend. No matter what role you play, you feel pressure to be perfect all the time.
If this pressure builds up for too long, we will explode in some way. This will not physically blow up our bodies, but an emotional breakdown, burnout, or even a horrible fight with a loved one can easily occur. To avoid this type of crisis, we must learn to stop pressuring ourselves so much. This is unfortunately, easier said than done. We must learn to let things go, a change that takes time and practice. Once we become aware of things building up, we can learn to stop pretending to be perfect.
No one is perfect. This is a fact, regardless of whether their Twitter, Insta, or Facebook says otherwise. Everyone has off days, deals with pain, and faces some type of rejection. It is okay to let the perfect image go or failing to reach that perfection mark. We have to remember what really matters. Though a great wedding is a wonderful thing, no one will notice if you do not have handmade centerpieces or perfectly matching flowers. The guests are looking at the happy couple, not the tiny details.
The key is to remember to be realistic in personal expectations. When we have unrealistic expectations, we cause ourselves unnecessary pressure. Thinking that you have jogged once two months ago, but believing a half marathon tomorrow is possible is highly unrealistic. Do not set yourself up for this kind of failure. Learn to be realistic.
We also have to stop listening to other people who are pressuring us into something we do not really want. Nearly every single woman has heard that she should find a “good man”. The thing that shocks people is that not every woman wants to share her life with someone right away, or at all. Listen to your heart and mind and stop worrying about gaining validation from those who are not you.
Our goal is to do what we can, the best we can, and let the rest worry about itself. No one can do it all. Find a mantra that speaks to you and your situation. Repeat this mantra daily as a reminder that you are enough and perfection is not necessary. When the pressure starts to build, repeat your mantra and move forward. When you do put too much pressure on yourself because you were striving for perfection, take a breath and ask yourself if it is really a life or death situation. If it is about work, ask yourself if it will cause you to be fired. Really consider if you will remember in a year. If the answer is no, then it is not important enough to pressure yourself to the point of having a breakdown.
When you do find yourself stressed and falling apart practice a technique that identifies, externalizes, and then eliminates the pressure. This is simple. When a problem arises, identify it clearly and know you are putting pressure on yourself. To externalize it, associate it with something external but bad or gross. Something like a bad smell that you want to eliminate. Then think of eliminating that bad smell and let your pressure be released with it.
Remember that anxiety appears when we start overthinking about what may happen in the future. So, stay present in the moment and the step you are on, not what may come. This will reduce mental obstacles almost immediately. If you do make a mistake, know that everyone does. This is life. Stop thinking of the negative as life ending and redefine it as an opportunity to change, learn, and grow. If something does stress you out, then show yourself some love and compassion. Treat yourself kindly so you can relax. This will help you refocus and move forward.