5 Exercises To Help You Cope With The Pressures Of Life

5 Exercises To Help You Cope With The Pressures Of Life

 “When you think about it, you should not let yourself be pressurized by life. You should never give away your power to a system or to other people. You should hold the poise, balance, and power of your soul within yourself. If no one can keep death away from you, then no one has ultimate power. All power is pretension. No one avoids death. Therefore, the world should never persuade you of its power over you, since it has no power whatever to keep death away from you.” 

– John O’ Donohue

As much as I love pursuing my passion, I can’t help but feel the pressure of what that means. I, just like everyone else, worry about people’s expectations of me, I stress over whether I am achieving the high standards that I set for myself. I worry if I’m failing, falling behind, or missing my opportunity, or whether time is running out

On top of the pressure I feel when working on my novel, I feel the pressure at work, and the pressure to find a soulmate, and sometimes even the pressure to be some sort of role model for others.

I feel the pressure on all sides, and I don’t know about you, but I’m so sick and tired of feeling the pressure.

I need to relax.

But here’s the problem: the modern world is one in which PRESSURE is a constant force each one of us has to cope with on a daily basis. Ours is a culture where we are expected to do EVERYTHING—PERFECTLY—RIGHT NOW.

No wonder so many of us are exhausted, sick, burn-out, and often sitting around wondering how much longer we can live like this… and whether it isn’t crazy to dream of a world where this kind of constant pressure doesn’t exist at all.

5 Exercises To Help You Cope With The Pressures Of Life

Today, I’d like to share with you several ways that I’ve been coping with the pressures of life and how I’ve managed to create a bubble of “no pressure” around myself, amid a world where PRESSURE is the name of the game and no one ever seems capable of “clocking out” of the rat race.

1. Become Aware That You’re Under Pressure

The first step in coping with pressure is self-awareness. If you aren’t aware that you are being pressurized by life, then you can’t successfully de-pressurize yourself.

All healing, I am uncovering, begins with a practice of deep, conscious attention. One can always become more conscious, so there is no excuse for not practicing more self-awareness. So, if you find yourself saying to me by this point:

“Well, Ollin, I’m already mediating and I’m already self-aware. I learned that lesson, already. Duh.”

First of all: I don’t appreciate the cattiness. Second of all: If you were fully self-aware already, you would not feel pressurized by life. When one is in full, conscious attention, one feels at peace, relaxed, ready and energized by life.

Therefore, if you’re under pressure, then one of the reasons this is the case is because you’ve lost your self-awareness.

You’ve allowed life to pressurize you, which only an unconscious person can allow to happen.

“Okay, Ollin. You got me there. So how do I become self-aware again? And keep it short. Please don’t write one of your long-winded posts that go on and on and talk about how you went to an Aquarium and saw a stingray and how the stingray winked at you, and then you became Skype friends, and it was a metaphor for the need human’s have for attention and how it taught you a lesson about human warmth and creativity and courage and blah blah blah. We get it, you’re a writer: you know how to write a simile. Can you just give me the gist? I gotta a lot things to do.”

First of all: Thanks to that comment, my heartwarming and inspiring blog post about Pepe ,The Stingray, will now be trashed and will NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY! (You happy now, jerk?)

Second of all: I hate to break it to you, but your very need to rush and get a quick fix to your problems is probably why you feel so much pressure.

Take a moment to think about what I just said and recognize it as true for yourself before you reject it.

Did you just do that?

Good. That would be a practice in self-awareness.

Congratulations! You have just realized that your need to rush and quickly fix your problems is something that YOU are actively creating. Now that YOU are aware of the fact, YOU can start to change it.

2. Understand That You Are Creating The Pressure

Now that you are aware that YOU are the one creating the pressure in your life, you can start to take responsibility for changing that unhealthy mindset.

You see: what we think up, we can manifest in reality. We are creators at our very core. If you don’t believe me, look back at what you focused so much of your energy on in the past: is their evidence today that this intense focus paid off? Is what you imagined to be true in the past now coming true for you today? The answer to that question is probably yes. If it is a no, you either have to be more patient, or you never really wanted it in the first place.

Learn how to tell the difference and you’ll save yourself a lot if frustration.

3. Understand That The External World Has No Power Whatsoever To Pressurize You

The late Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue, once said that we should never let the external world pressurize us because it has no real power over us. He said that the proof of this is that no one in the external world can prevent us from dying.

If you think about it, that makes total sense: death will come for each of us, no matter what happens, and so that renders all of our external “pressures” powerless.

That which lacks total power over you, therefore, does not actually have any real power over you and therefore should not frighten you. As Donohue notes: “all power is pretension.” Your boss, your colleagues, your friends, your family, society, your clients, your customers, your readers, your fans, your haters, your critics—all these external forces cannot prevent you from dying, so they have no real power over you. If they have no real power over you, then there’s no reason to feel afraid of them should you not meet their expectations on their time frame.

4. Begin Creating A World In Which “Pressure” Does Not Exist For You

Now that you know that you’re creating your feelings of pressure–and that no external force has any power to pressurize you–then you can begin to create a new world in which “pressure” does not exist.

A great way to do this is by using affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements that help you align yourself to the natural flow of things and help you create the kind of life you want, versus the kind of life you do not want.

Some great affirmations you can try in order to remove the pressures of life are:

“I am trying my best, and trying my best is all that is ever required of me.” 

“Everything gets done at the time it needs to get done. My job is only to allow the natural, organic process of life to unfold at its own pace and on its own time frame.”

I am always unconditionally loved and supported by life. My job is only to be open to allowing this unconditional love to flow into my heart (at all times) and accept the support that is being given to me (at all times).” 

“The pressures others put on me are only mirroring the pressures they put on themselves. I recognize this, show them my compassion, and through this act of self-awareness and charity I neutralize their negative affect on me.”

5. Just Be

You are who you are, you are not who you are not.

I know that seems like a simple statement, but recently I had a huge realization that this statement was true for me:

I am who I am. I am not who I’m not.

I can never be who I’m not. So I should stop trying to be who I’m not, because I am not that.

When you truly understand this statement, it is such a great relief because then you stop trying to be some imagined version of you and you start being the you that exists right now, in reality.

You can practice pondering this simple truth while you are jogging, eating, standing in line, or going to the store. Realize that you are you. You are not who you’re not. You can only be you and you can never be who you’re not.

Paired with this truth is the truth that you are where you need to be—you are not where you do not need to be.

You see, if you are who you are, then you’re also where you need to be. Where you’re currently at in life is not in contradiction of “where you need to be” because who you are is also where you’re currently at in life—which is naturally where you need to be.

I know: this is a lot to wrap your head around, and that’s why I recommend that you ponder this concept at length as a practice to help you release the pressures of life.

Because if we are who we are, and we are where we need to be, then why would we feel any pressure?

much “Pepe The Stingray” love,


Today’s Courage Exercise

Implement all the five exercises I recommend in this post to help release the pressures in your life.

(If you can’t implement all five exercises this week, no pressure. Try again next week.)

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Categories: Writer's Journal