How to Deal with Pressure from Society
2018 has begun and, as always, a new year brings with it a plethora of different feelings.
For some people, the idea of “fresh start” is exciting and leaves them feeling optimistic about how they can “start over” and pursue their latest ambitious with enthusiasm.
But for others, the new year is a time of increased anxiety — a reminder that we’re “behind” in life (or at least we think we are).
Today, I want to talk about how you may be feeling fearful of the future, why that might be, and what you can do about it.
You might be worrying about the future and what might happen if you don’t achieve your goals.
Maybe all you can see is this big goal it would make you so happy to achieve, but feel daunted by all the steps you’d need to take to actually achieve it. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed just thinking about how you might reach your goal at all, or you’re afraid to take the risks you know you’d need to take.
Whatever the reason for your anxiety — whether you’re generally anxious around this period, something’s already gone wrong this year that’s shaken you, or you’ve already slipped on one of your new year’s resolutions — it’s perfectly okay to be feeling this way.
In the blog, we’ll consider the fear of the future that affects a lot go people at this time of year, why that is, and what you can do about it.
This time of year usually causes us to re-evaluate where we are in life and what we’ve achieved, or are achieving, against some standard.
Usually, this standard is dictated by society. This pressure from society can cause you to compare yourself to others: “Hey, look what he or she has done. Why haven’t I done that? Why am I not keeping up?”
Pressure from society can feed into your own idea of what you should be achieving and by when. You compare where you are in life against where you feel you should be by now.
Often, we find that we fall short of those expectations. This is bound to make you feel anxious.
You’re probably going to find you have a lot of negative thoughts about your success.
What if I’m never successful? What if I’m not good enough? What if I fail?
At the heart of your anxiety, disappointment, and self-criticism is the action of comparing yourself to others you perceive are doing “better” than you.
If you want to reduce the pressure from society you feel, and the anxiety you suffer as a result, you need to stop comparing yourself to others, and accept where you are.
What you want is to feel calm and content with where you are in life now, while trusting that you can get to where you want to be in the future.
You want to be able to have positive thoughts about the upcoming year, and be able to say to yourself, “I can do this.”
You want to feel hopeful, and relish that deep-seated belief that things could — or maybe even will — work out.
So how do you stop comparing?
Anytime you hear yourself say “I should…” that’s a sign that you’re engaging in comparison. The pressure from society to be one way or another is immense, and the first step to stopping it is noticing when you’re letting that pressure get to you.
Step 1: Instead of saying “I should ____”, say “I want to ____”
When you reframe your goals as desires, they’re simply much more powerful and you’ll be more motivated and determined to achieve them.
I don’t know about you, but I feel motivated to do the things I want to do, not the things I’m told to do, even if I’m the one telling myself to do them.
One of the most empowering parts of this shift in language is that you’ll find that sometimes you can’t swap “I should ____” out with “I want to ____”. And if you can’t do that, then you need to re-evaluate if that’s actually your goal, or some external pressure from society or someone else.
If a goal is aligned to your values, if it’s your goal, then you will find it easy to put an “I want to____” in front of it.
If you realise it’s not your goal, give yourself permission to let it go.
Step 2: Realise that your journey is yours alone, and no one else's.
It’s true that there is a lot of pressure from society and, especially with social media, we’re always being told what we should be doing or where we should be in life.
You simply can’t be content with where you are in life until you accept that wherever you are is good enough.
Accepting where you are in life doesn’t mean you’re not honouring your desires and goals, it means acknowledging that you’re on a journey that is exclusively yours. You’ll get to your goals in your own time.
Tell yourself, “This is my life, and I’m in exactly the right place on my journey.”
I know that to be true. Your experiences now may be just what you need to set you up for the success you so desire later on — and don’t let anyone tell you that’s not good enough.