The Secret Warfare in Dealing with Anxiety & Pressure #MentalHealth
We all have expectations and to some of us, they are great if not well prepared may seem impossible. We live in a society where everybody expects us to either get married, get a job, build a house, buy a car and have a healthy bank account among others. But they do not take into account the hard work and sacrifices required. Nor the search or the anxiety or fear to fail thus pressures that come with the acceptance of what is or rejections from those we hoped would walk the journey with us. The simple fact of life is, with every level or action added into our lives, attached to it is a responsibility, in short… an expectation. But how then do will deal with it all and still stay sane, let me briefly share my bottom rock experience;
Right from an early age, I have had responsibilities and expectations which meant always managing pressure and the fear of not (anxiety) achieving as a leader. However, I came to learn that with more power means more responsibility, worries and pressure to perform. At 21 years, I was entrusted with the responsibility of running an entire university student body and government. One year down the road at 22 years, I lost my dad, the head of our family and breadwinner; culturally as the first-born son, I inherited my late father’s full responsibilities and a role which meant I had to put away childish things and man-up. I was still grieving, but no one cared for my sorrows, but rather my strength, it created pressure in me. Which later became anger turned inside, emotionally raging, moaning… having a conflict inside me. I entertained that thought, babysat it and it grew, yet I heard I was meant to deal with, but how I asked?
I am a doer, that means naturally I would not measure and did not take into account the length of my strength and that I had to let certain things go, many of us are too are alike. Most people think I have it all figured out, well… I DON’T! In dealing with my pressure and anxiety, all I had was to create plans of what bothered me, strategies on how to achieve them and cultivated the discipline to be effective, efficient and consistent. I have also come to learn to let things go and say ‘NO’ a little more often to the things I can’t do outside my task lines. One cannot be everywhere at all times, simply because you are a limited resource. Hence, It is important to measure what you can handle, the kind or amount of friends you can put-up with, work you can or cannot do and how you can spend your day. Its key to knowing this life principle, “You can never be promoted to the next level unless you are overqualified for the current one. That’s why its key to give 100% of everything you choose to do.” ~Mike Madock
But let’s not be blind to the communities we come from; We live in a society where people ask, “How are you? Or how we are doing?” just as a greeting with no real intention of finding out how we are. Today pressure mounts more difficulty for Christians or religious fox; we tend to be more obligated to be okay. We feel like somehow we have done God a disservice to say we are not okay. We are expected to live a holy life according to human standards forgetting God’s standards and that creates pressure. He says, “Be anxious for nothing…but in everything make your petition/requests/needs known to God…cast your burdens unto Christ, for He cares for you…” Also, some of these facts apply; when we grow and increase, with every promotion/blessing, comes a burden/responsibility. The more blessed or powerful you are, the more burdens (responsibilities) you possess, “…to s/he whom much is given, much is required…” Also know the people out there will see the blessing and do not see the burden or cost of the blessing. They will admire, be inspired or even hate you when you excel at work, school but they won’t see you suffering in the library. They see you happily married but won’t see your long lonely faithful singlehood wait in the Lord nor your submission to your spouse and hard work to respect them. They will praise or hate you when you are driving a fancy car but not look at how hard you worked and saved to buy it, or how it costs to maintain it. In the end, they have a validation hold over you, thus captivating the joy that was yours to manage in the first place.
It is a warfare tactic from the enemy, stopping you from feeling or enjoying being successful, disrupting your ability to live life abundantly. They stop you from the feeling of comfort. It is with our minds that we serve God and but if it is under attacked, all does not work well. Hence, ask yourself, “Is it well with my soul (mind and emotions)?” It will even reach a point when the pain of your pressures get a stronghold on you, with your imaginations tormenting you. Thinking to yourself, “I could have succeeded; I should have or be this and that.” Also, all the voices that kept qualifying or quantifying the kind of life you should be living rather than that you are living. No wonder the word of God says, “Our weapons are not natural (carnal) but mighty to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and everything that magnifies its self above the knowledge of Christ…” of which knowledge Joyce Meyer calls it the battle of the mind.
Pressure always has its levels, even when you achieve, it can be brewed if success is not managed well. Being well known or an achiever is not easy, you keep doing more and hence draw many achievements, failures too and all these are public, you all know how this goes. As a result, very many people will want to take a picture with you or be seen with you. We live in a social media world where it is all about looks. People today prefer photographing you, take your image and walk away without even knowing how you have been or how you did it. Not considering that the image they have taken is the cheapest part of you. Many people think they know you but they do not. They had a chance to but rather chose the image so they could post it online. We fail to live our lives simply because we choose to live up to social expectations and in the end, we are not happy.
Most times my family and friends expected me to be a lot; not considering the hard work it took for me to be all those things, or how much I would lose myself in the process. I was so under pressure that could not let anyone of them in my life when I felt I was failing because being in my presence would bring them down yet they expended more of me. Deep down my outcry to them was, “Adjust your expectations of me.” Even though you’re their leader, lover, friend, role model or business partner, be honest that you too go through some tough things. Understand their expectations of you and their need for you to perform again but also let them know you going through something yourself and it’s pressuring you! Be honest about it, but also act and make steps in resolving them, “All fall, but great ones get back on their feet…fail but fail fast!”
If you fail to perform and or succeed above others, there is the pressure that came from the guilt of being under pressure; the guilt of being inadequate, the guilt of surviving where others have failed, the guilt of being beyond strength and out of power, the guilt of being tired often misinterpreted as laziness or unproductiveness. It’s draining!”
When you are a giver, depletion is inherent because in being a giver, you have to absorb the collateral damage of always being available to other people. That is simply because you have a big heart. The more effective you are, the more empty you become as you are giving maybe advise, services, help or whatever it is you are giving. It is like driving a car, the more you drive it, the more the fuel tank gets empty and that is why it needs refilling. The more you are driven, the emptier you become. I have always known how best to work than how to cry for help. As a result, I burnt up around people who I love, worst of it all, they can never imagine that I too got tired sometimes (it came as a random thought to them but not solid enough to cause a form of action to help me). This is because when you are good at what you do, people take you for granted.
Stop living in other people’s expectations, their need does not constitute your emergency. I have been pressed above measure and beyond strength, I have felt pressure get beyond me that I despaired life and my purpose in it. My inability to cut it had overwhelmed me because I could not let go of it and it was killing me. We are trained to see leaving or letting go as loosing, so we stand there or hold on. No matter how painful, we stay there; one of the hardest things to do is to be present no matter what, it takes discipline and costs our happiness if not well managed. In the end, all your lights are on but you are not home, your body is present but you have lost your true self, lost the ability to enjoy. By nature, we are a spiritual being, emotional being, intellectual being and physical being, that is what makes us. With life pressures, it is every possibility to be healthy in one area and not other places even when it does not have to be that way. Very often, we mind more about the body, spiritual beings and ignore our intellect. Why have we divorced the body from the brain? If there is something wrong with our body we quickly call or run to the doctor for medication but if something is wrong with the mind, we bare the burden alone and call it faith. It is not healthy for us just like it is hard to be everybody’s hero all the time. You are the one everybody looks to, fixing everything forgetting that you’re (the hero) are human.
According to physics, pressure comes when there is no release. When things have little ways to get in that ways to go out, it creates pressure; when you have more coming at you than more from you, it creates pressure; when you are feeding more than people they are feeding you, it creates pressure. If they block your ability to release what they are putting on you over time, you will build up the pressure. Look at how many people you got looking to you and then look at how many people you got giving to you. How much are you giving or are they taking compared to how much you are receiving?
You are human, you are a limited resource; no man is an island hence you cannot deal with this anymore. I know you may say to yourself as I did, “I do not want to put my pain on public display…” But you have to ask for help, measure what you can or cannot do. Even Christ before being arrested said, “Father if it is your will… take this cup from me.” He was under pressure and that is why he understands it when you are under pressure. Pressure can kill you, it causes stress or even leads you to commit suicide. Is it well with your soul (mind and emotions?) Many are walking on the streets as a deficit of who they are? What do you do when everybody you thought you could count on has deserted you? What do you do when they only care about your talent, success, ethics and not your sorrow, your hard work or even care to give a helping hand? You are everybody’s saviour, you trained everybody to come to you but when will you get some rest?
Therefore, the pressure is real and dangerous to us all. That is why everybody needs somebody they can talk to. Someplace where they can go admit, “Am tired!” We all need to learn how to say no, to measure what we can do, to monitor not only our physical but mental and emotional health. We need to have a helping hand even when we sometimes forget to ask, we need to relax and have someone listen to us. Do not let pressure mount, manage it, live a balanced life and if you have been on the receiving end, let’s start to care about the people we live with. Isn’t that our God-given rule? Being our brothers/sisters keeper? You or they don’t have to suffer in silence, we all have a role to play.