Give yourself some credit

26 February 2019 | Columns

Mariselle Stofberg

Pressure is something we all get used to at some point in our lives. You need to perform, you need to excel, you need to succeed, you need to produce and the list goes on.

We are expected to do a lot of things and sometimes this pressure drives you to achieve more than you thought was even possible. Personally, there is nothing I love more than a challenge. The moment it appears as though the odds are stacked against me, it fuels me to give even more.

The excitement you feel when you know you are stressed for time and the sheer joy of knowing you met the deadline is amazing. My problem, however, is the pressure I put on myself. I set standards for what I want to achieve, which in essence is wonderful, but the problems come in when you set these standards so high you have trouble meeting them. We don’t want to let people down and this in turn puts another layer of stress on you to produce and perform.

Suddenly, because of the internal pressure we put on ourselves to achieve, that adrenaline becomes stress. Suddenly that hill we have to climb looks like a mountain and you have no idea how on earth you will climb it. You are met with seemingly impossible tasks and deadlines, and the more you stress, the more impossible they seem. You start off on a Monday stressed and tired, because you have no idea how you will be able to reach Friday, because you have a million things that need to be done on Monday and that is not even a fraction of the things you need to get done during the rest of the week.

We believe that the smallest mistake on our side will create a snowball effect, and that in turn will have everything crashing down. We stress to such an extent that we see this stress as a weakness, and we decide to keep this to ourselves. This feeling of dread just builds and builds, but we keep this to ourselves, and no one knows we are drowning. We don’t want anyone to think we are weak, so we keep up a front.

We then start stressing because we are stressing, and we start to slide down this slippery slope.

We start off on Monday wishing it was Friday and on Sunday you are already dreading Monday. We get stuck in this cycle and the more you stress, the harder it becomes to free yourself from this cycle.

Someone once told me the most important thing: just breathe. I would laugh and think: “I barely have time to think, let alone to sit and breathe.”

Just breathe. Stop for two seconds and just breathe. Give yourself two minutes and think of everything you have accomplished thus far. You made a decision to get up this morning, despite your feelings of stress and dread, and you decided to take on another day.

You made the decision to get back up again and you decided to give this day everything you have. You got dressed, you made coffee and you picked up your bag. These are small victories, but yes, you have a seemingly impossible task ahead, but guess what, you can do it.

My mother used to say your mind is the most important organ in your body and your mindset has an incredible impact on you and your life. I used to think that’s wonderful, but how on earth will I be able to convince myself I will be able to get everything done?

Well, the moment I decided I will not allow myself to wallow in this hole of self-pity, I started feeling that maybe I can do this. I decided that asking for help does not make me weak; instead I believe it takes an incredible amount of guts and strength to admit that you need help.

I realised that I wasted so much time each day stressing about the things I need to get done. I could have actually used that time to get the things done that I’ve been stressing about. I started giving myself just a bit of credit each day, knowing I was trying my best. I started telling myself that that impossible mountain only needed the right gear and some company.

Don’t be under the assumption that you need to be independent to the point where you push others away, just to prove you can do this by yourself. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for, but you’re not a superhero.

Take every day step by step, plan your day to allow yourself the necessary time to work efficiently, but still have a few moments to just sit back and breathe. It’s amazing what effect a little breathing has on you.

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