I feel rather stressed at this moment. Pressurized by my own mind, by the obligations and discipline. I feel my tongue pressing against the roof of my mouth and my gum. My feet try to grasp the ground, the muscles tight and rigid. My throat feels pressured as if it is a firm pole to which my head is attached. The pressure created by the mind can often become such a weight that it is stored in the body, to suppress it. To store its destructive and unsettling power, for us to uncover and understand. I want to understand the root of stress, I want to uncover it, and embrace it. No longer hide from it, or push it away.
Stress is often caused by the pressure to perform and to compete with others.
Because that’s really what I want, to understand why I feel stressed, why I’ve always felt stressed? For most of my life, I remember that I lived with stress and anxiety. Either in my mind or my body. That stress was often caused by just one thing, pressure. The pressure to perform. Whether that be in high school having to perform to get decent grades, or in college feeling the pressure of balancing out school, with writing, and friends. To now, where I feel the pressure of having to perform and earn a living from writing. Pressure has been the cause of much of the disturbance I have experienced over the years.
I think you and I are much the same in this. We all deal with stress, pressure, or anxiety in our lives. It’s something more and more relatable as the world continues to speed up. Jobs change quicker, there is more pressure to be exceptional than ever before, there is more pressure to perform and learn, and all of that can be daunting. Especially for us young adults who have yet to really understand themselves, and why they feel stressed. Which is a great question to start this with.
Why are we stressed? Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves in the form of obligations, discipline, or performance? Why is stress such a consuming experience, that seems to take away all the beauty in life? Let’s understand a part of us, that we call stress, anxiety, and pressure.
Why We Feel Stressed
In high school or any level of education as of right now, we learn to get a specific grade on our tests or reports so that we can graduate. It’s how the school system is built. It’s built upon competition, on performance, and it’s with competition and performance that stress and anxiety come along. When we have to perform, which implies that we have to get a specific result, we automatically put a form of pressure on ourselves. We want to achieve that result because if we do it will make us feel good. We are praised for achievement, and blamed for failing to achieve.
When we are stressed, it’s often because we are anticipating something in the future.
But to fully understand stress we must understand why we feel stressed. When we are stressed, it’s often because we are anticipating something in the future. So let’s say you have an important test, or business meeting, something that requires some sort of performance. Both for the test as well as for the business meeting we have a certain desire, some desire to either get a good grade or land a new job opportunity. It’s an idea of the mind, that it must achieve to feel good. If we create the desire, and therefore the pressure, to get an A or B on our test that creates stress. Because now we don’t just learn for the sake of learning, but we learn in order to get a specific result. Yet that specific result is never certain, it isn’t set in stone. We know roughly what we will have to do to get an A or B, which is to know all the fact from our books, but then still, we don’t know what questions we will have to answer on our test, we don’t know if we will have a blackout, or if we will get sick on that day.
Even though we feel that the result of that test is completely based upon our own achievement, our own discipline, and quality of learning, there are much more variables that will determine the outcome of that test. Yet we don’t spend time dwelling on those possibilities, because we know all we can control is the quality of our time spend learning. Which puts tremendous pressure on us. Especially as kids. Just imagine, or feel again, what you felt before graduating. You spend all those years learning facts and figures, from books for this moment. To graduate from high school or college. All of your worth was based on this one test. That puts an enormous amount of pressure on kids.
Just imagine what it would feel like if you right now in your job, had to take an exam and you were taught and made to believe that everything you’ll do in the rest of your life is based upon this one exam. How would that feel? That puts an incredible amount of pressure on you, doesn’t it? Well, now imagine how that would feel for a 16-year-old or 17-year-old, barely a 5th into their life. That kid doesn’t yet have the understanding of the world that you do, it hasn’t yet developed the ability to understand that it’s just a test and life will continue if they were to fail.
The moment you MUST do something in order to GET something means you put pressure on yourself, and with that, you create stress for yourself.
It shows that stress and anxiety always come from a level of pressure. A feeling that we must do something, a feeling that we must do something to feel good. So in essence stress is an illusion we create that makes us feel in control. When we stress out about whether or not we will get an A on our test we sort of feel in control. We feel like all the possible futures we are imagining will help us better deal with the test. Yet stress is an illusion of control, it’s created by our feeling off pressure, or having to perform.
We feel stressed only because we have to get something specific out of life. Whether that be a job, an A on your test, or keeping up with your workout routine. The moment you MUST do something in order to GET something means you put pressure on yourself, and with that, you create stress for yourself. The reason we feel that we must get this something we want is because we, as we are, are not okay. We believe we have to get that A on our test or give a perfect business pitch, to get the results we want, which in return will make us feel good about ourselves. Stress caused by pressure is therefore a form of greed, of trying to fill a feeling of lack within ourselves.
Stress caused by pressure is therefore a form of greed, of trying to fill a feeling of lack within ourselves.
But where does stress come from then? If we know that stress is caused by pressure, by the need to achieve, what’s the root of stress then?
Where Does Stress Come From?
Stress comes from desire, the desire for power, the desire to prove yourself to others, it comes from greed, and lack, the lack of love, of inner richness. Stress only exists because we are not at peace with ourselves, and do not yet experience the inner richness of life. Therefore we seek to achieve, to compete with others to prove ourselves. And that desire to achieve, to be the best, or to be better all the time is reinforced in today’s society.
After all, we admire and adore those at the top. We praise their hard work, discipline, and dedication, but we don’t see that the discipline and dedication they had to their craft came from nothing but a lack of love for who they were. We don’t see that discipline is a form of control of oneself, to get a specific goal. We don’t discipline ourselves to work out for the sole purpose of working out. If we would love to work out, we would be working out because we love to do it each day. It’s only because we don’t like working out because it’s uncomfortable and painful sometimes, that we have to discipline ourselves to get the result we want, which is to look good or to be healthy. Even here we don’t just work out because we love it, we do it because there is some goal attached to it. Some form of pressure and achievement, to be healthy or to look good.
If we would feel completely okay the way we are, the goal we set for ourselves would come from a place of love, therefore we wouldn’t have to achieve it. We would just work towards it because we love doing it. It becomes an act of love, of consciousness instead of pressure and the need to achieve.
If we would feel completely okay the way we are, the goal we set for ourselves would come from a place of love, therefore we wouldn’t have to achieve it. We would just work towards it because we love doing it. It becomes an act of love, of consciousness instead of pressure and the need to achieve. It’s here that stress and pressure dissolve. They aren’t gone, they are still present. We might still feel stress at times because we feel we have to do something, but as soon as we realize this, and recognize that we think we must do something we can stop. Be aware of it. Understand why we feel stressed, which is to achieve a specific goal. Then we can ask ourselves how do I not push this feeling of stress away? How can I embrace it, and let it go?
We should then ask ourselves, why do we feel the need to in this case work out? Why do we feel the pressure to do something?
It’s only because we compare it to others. Be honest with yourself, the things you are stressed about, you are not doing because you love them. But either because someone told you it would be good for you, therefore you feel the pressure to do it and make yourself look good towards the other. Or you do it because you feel that otherwise, you aren’t worthy, that you have failed.
We feel that if we do not do this right now we feel unlovable, we feel that we aren’t enough. We feel that we are lacking, and therefore we must push ourselves to do it.
So therefore we can see that stress and pressure come from a feeling of lacking within ourselves. We feel that if we do not do this right now we feel unlovable, we feel that we aren’t enough. We feel that we are lacking, and therefore we must push ourselves to do it. So that we can then feel good about ourselves again. So you create stress for yourself, an uncomfortable feeling that then serves as the motivator to hit your achievement so that you can then let go of the pressure again and feel good about yourself.
But what if we can feel loved, all the time? What if we can totally feel okay with a feeling of lack? This means that we neither push the feeling of lack away and don’t want to feel it, nor do we fully indulge ourselves in it at feeling worthless. What we do instead is embrace that feeling of lack. We embrace the idea that we aren’t good enough as we are and observe it. What then? If we can recognize that we aren’t the lack, nor the stress? What if we can see that we are the observer and therefore are always worthy? Wouldn’t that mean we understand why we pressurize ourselves and create stress for ourselves? Can’t we then let it go, accept it, be with it, observe it, and see it as part of life, yet neither cling to it or cling to the idea of letting it go. Just simply let it be.
It’s that way we can embrace stress. We can observe it within our body, where most of our stress is stored. We can feel it and understand it. Do nothing but observe it. We do not need to accept it, nor let it go. Neither do we have to push it away by going with the pressure. Then you will probably object and say, “well if I do that, and neither let it go nor discipline myself to do it, I will never achieve anything and I will become a couch potato” To that, I will ask you: so does this too mean that you give up doing the things you love? Does it also mean that if you stop disciplining your mind, or try to get rid of stress, that you will give up painting because you love it so much? That would mean you rid yourself of something beautiful in life, something you love. And we do not have to do that.
Does it also mean that if you stop disciplining your mind, or try to get rid of stress, that you will give up painting because you love it so much? That would mean you rid yourself of something beautiful in life, something you love. And we do not have to do that.
We should embrace what we love. I hope you see that the things we love deeply, never cause any pressure or stress. If we love to write, or to paint, or to be a nurse we never feel stress or pressure to perform. It will become natural, it will become a flow of love. Yes, a nurse often has to work hard to take care of all the patients, but a nurse who loves the work will do it out of love for all the people they take care of. Therefore they see that the stress has a purpose, and they do not have to get rid of it. It gets their body active and ready to help all the people that need help, and at the same time they can let that stress go, it no longer is stress or pressure. It’s an energy that helps us do what we love. We no longer resist it but use it. We use our energy to do what we love.
If we truly love doing something with no outcomes or achievements attached to it, but only because we love it, we will not know stress or pressure.
If we truly love doing something with no outcomes or achievements attached to it, but only because we love it, we will not know stress or pressure. We will only know waves of working hard, and waves off rest. We can easily say no when we feel that we need rest because we know that rest is part of love as well. If we drain ourselves we cannot love. The only way to embrace stress and pressure is to understand it and see that the stress you feel is caused by the need to achieve, the need to fill a feeling of lack within you. If you can see that, and understand, not merely follow my words, but truly understand it yourself, you’ll see that it’s absurd to do something for the only reason to impress or achieve.
And if we can see that we will work towards doing what we love, for the sole purpose to express love. Not to help others, or to impress others, that is an achievement again which creates pressure. But to live just because you love living. To help just because we love helping. To help not to fill something within ourselves, but to help by giving what the other needs. Or to write just because we love writing. To see that your world is rich as it is and that we don’t need to pressurize ourselves to achieve something. To see that all you need is to be alive. So you can end your day and say Today I Lived! I made the most of it.