You have a goal. Something important to you. Something you said yes to creating, doing, achieving because you believed it would make you happy. And so you go for it, work your way to making your goal a reality, feeling good about it, but then something shifts. You realize to reach said goal, you are going to have to push yourself to make it happen. Work hard. Cancel dates. Put pressure on yourself. Put your personal happiness on hold.
So like a “strong” woman, “responsible” man, you buck up, push through, exhaust yourself, sacrifice your self-care, and the thing you were originally doing to make you happy is now making you unhappy and stressed out. But instead of stopping to re-assess your situation, you pretend like you’ve got it handled, or passively aggressively complain about how busy you are – never letting on to yourself or anyone else, that the perpetrator of your stress-filled, no-space-for-myself life is you.
Welcome to the lifestyle of the 21st century super woman and super man. Overworked, overwhelmed and frankly over it! A life where we accept stress, hard work and sacrifice as the norm, even at the cost of our own happiness and health.
But really, if we just pause here for a moment, we all know that unsustainable, pressure cooker pace is no way to live. Could there be a different way? Where we don’t have to be a victim to our responsibilities, schedule, family, work, etc…?While there may be moments we need to rally and push to the finish line, what if those were the exception instead of the norm?
Your operating system for life should NOT be pushing yourself hard.@ChristineArylo (Click to Tweet!)
You don’t have to motivate yourself by pressure.
The problem is that most of us don’t know we are pushing ourselves too hard until we have already gotten to the bad place – crabby, self-critical and unhappy. And most of us are ill equipped to pause, re-assess, and re-calibrate our expectations to ones that make us happy and satisfied, not stressed out.
Three signs you are pushing yourself to hard
- Crabbiness. Pushing yourself creates internal pressure and a sense of contraction and lack of spaciousness inside of your mind, body and emotional field. This internal lack of space makes you feel like you have to push to find room for yourself, and so you become crabby on the outside.
- Self-Criticism. When you push yourself to meet the mental picture in your mind of what you should be able to accomplish or do, you end up beating yourself up – because truth be told your mind has unrealistic expectations of what is humanely possible. If your mind is full of thoughts like, “I should …” “Why can’t I…” or “If I could just…” you are pressuring yourself.
- Putting Your Happiness & Self-Care on Hold. Wishing for the day you could just slow down and relax, you live in the future for someday, you create unhappiness in the now. While you may not be able to take a seven day cruise, you should not need a vacation to rest. When you feel a lack of time to rest, you work harder than you need, you don’t replenish and you end up exhausted. Not because you had to, but because you chose too. Rest is not optional, your body requires rest every day.
As a recovering achievement junkie and doing addict, I have set myself up for self induced stress all the time. Always trying to do more than humanely possible because in my mind, I am super woman and I can leap tall buildings in a single bound and finish fifty things in one day, and in record time. I have to be on alert for the signs I am pushing myself too hard, and then move past my fear of not being enough, doing enough, accomplishing enough in order to reset my expectations. One of many examples was when I was away on a two week writing retreat for a new book, some editing , some writing. When I first arrived, I felt like I could accomplish six chapters no problem, but about a week in, I could feel my internal drive wanting to kick in to finish all nine and just be done – even though the manuscript wasn’t due for six more weeks. And then the internal pressure started and I could feel my mind and body trying to over work me to finish, thinking about cutting out yoga, canceling a weekend fun date with my husband, working more hours per day to meet my goal.
Luckily, I know the signs when I am pushing myself too hard, and considering I was writing a book about listening to our Inner Wisdom instead of pushing ourselves to unrealistic expectations, I figured I better stop and check in. So I pressed the big red STOP button inside myself, closed my eyes and took a breath and asked myself on of my favorite recovering achievement junkie questions, “What would ENOUGH look like?”
The answer was clear, even though my inner achiever didn’t like it – enough would look like me having six chapters done really well and tight so I didn’t have to go back to them. In the past few years since I’ve learned that listening to my inner wisdom voice over that self-critical ‘inner mean girl’ voice yields better results overall, I did what I had to do. I gave myself permission to only complete six chapters before I left my writing retreat, and decided to trust that was the best timing. I proclaimed to myself, THAT IS ENOUGH! And went on to do my yoga every day, kept my date with my husband, plus added a full day of relaxation. Six chapters completed and I had more than enough energy to complete the rest in more spacious timing.
Where are you pushing yourself too hard? And what would enough look like? Send your “inner achievement junkie” and “doing addict” on vacation and try the three-step pressure release:
Three-steps for releasing the pressure
1. Admit you are pushing yourself too hard – Say out loud (you need to hear this from yourself): “I am pushing myself too hard to…”
2. Re-set your expectations. Close your eyes and take a breath. Ask yourself, “What would ENOUGH look like?”
3. Give yourself permission to just do enough. No more. No less. Just enough.
When pressure and overwhelm come knocking on your door, remember that you have the choice to let them in. Assess the situation, use the three step process above and ask yourself what might need to change or adjust in order for you to feel less stress and more joy, rest and harmony through the process. I’d love to hear your thoughts or practices you use to release pressure in your own life. Lets support each other to take off our superhero capes and remember to stop PUSHING ourselves and start LOVING ourselves.
Christine Arylo, m.b.a., is an inspirational catalyst, transformational teacher and best-selling self-love author who teaches people how to put their most important partnership first, the one with themselves, so that they can create the life their souls crave. The popular author of the go-to book on relationships Choosing ME before WE and the self-love handbook, Madly in Love with ME, the Daring Adventure to Becoming Your Own Best Friend, and her newest Reform Your Inner Mean Girl. She’s affectionately known as the “Queen of Self-Love” for her groundbreaking work in self-love, including founding the international day of self-love on Feb 13th. Arylo is the co-founder of the self-love and empowerment school for women, Inner Mean Girl Reform School. You can follow here on Twitter, FB or visit her sites here & here.