What is pressure exactly?
We start to feel pressure when we are afraid of not living up to the expectations of ourselves or others. We feel pressure when we don’t have enough time to get everything done that we think needs to get done. We feel pressure when we might not get the thing we desperately want. We feel pressure when we might not reach our goal.
There is one easy way to sum up the word pressure…
“Pressure is a word that is misused in our vocabulary. When you start thinking of pressure, it’s because you’ve started to think of failure.” – Tommy Lasorda, baseball manager
Correct thinking and correct focus are the hallmarks of champions.
People tend to think that a champion never has a bad thought or ever gets distracted. That’s not true. The difference is the champion doesn’t let the bad thought take root. She immediately redirects (refocuses) on the tasks that move her forward, rather than the things that hold her back. This is a learned skill. You can learn it too.
If you focus on the pressure (and therefore on failing), it causes tension, stress, and inaction. Focus on the tasks that move you forward causes action. Will there be mistakes and backslides? Of course. Time to get over that one. Get charged up by the challenge.
It applies to more than sport performance.
I recently had a bit of a health scare. I could feel my mind going off in non-productive directions, but I decided there was no point in worrying until I had answers. The entire drive home from the doctor I kept repeating a simple sentence out loud about health and longevity. By the time I was half-way home, I felt much better. But I had to work at it.
Pressure can be a good thing.
You don’t feel pressure when you don’t care, so pressure isn’t a terrible thing. It can be a very good thing. Controlled pressure can cause you to be activated and ready. Some people perform better under pressure, and as a matter of fact pressure can cause great leaps in performance and creativity, because you are less inclined to analyze and judge the outcome (left brain) and just focus on the performance (right brain).
Too much pressure is NOT a good thing.
It will cause you to break down mentally and physically over time. Making a plan, being okay with letting certain things go and learning to detach from the expectations of yourself and others helps you to control the amount of pressure you are feeling.
You can control the pressure you feel to a large degree.
Pressure is something you create in your own mind. Therefore it is something you can learn to control to your advantage, by being aware of your inner dialogue and the direction of your focus.
Other people may put pressure on you, it’s your choice to accept it or not. You may not always have control of your circumstances but you always have a choice about how you are going to react to them.
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