In sports, we often hear about the term “momentum” – the pressure applied by one side to the other.  But what we are really observing is a sense of pressure one side feels due to a sustained attack from the opposition.  This tends to accumulate: As the side that is better at the time continues to pressure, the defending team often feels worst.  If the team members cannot handle this pressure, they can become mentally “crumble”, which usually translates to disastrous results.  Similarly, during life situations, when we are failing, it’s more likely that we continue to fail because we can’t think straight due to the pressure to succeed.

When one is under pressure, one may respond differently and causes various problems…

Here are the 5 common scenarios when overwhelmed by pressure:
(1) We are often thinking about the necessity of success, rather than the path to success.

“We must score 3 goals in the final 5 minutes.”  This, by itself, may not sound like an achievable goal.  No one can score 3 goals at a time.  This thinking only creates unnecessary pressures on the team when you think of 3 goals at a time. Instead, what we should do is to keep pushing forward in order to give ourselves the best chance of success as quickly as possible.  Thinking about the 3 goals is not helpful.  When we keep staring at the problem and the target, it looks impossible, which will then affect the team’s confidence and team spirit. In comparison, we should think about how to push forward to get 1 goal at this moment because this target is attainable.

Solution to Scenario (1): Slow down, break down the target into small jobs, and then set attainable goals that lead to eventual success.

(2) We often doubt our own methods, rather than trust our previous experiences.

In general, people are often placed in the situation because others recognize the skill set that these people have.  But when things are not going right, we may start doubting ourselves. It is as if the experiences that lead us to succeed so often before are no longer working.  Sure, there’s a chance that we are really not getting things done right.  Yet in most of the cases, this is not the true reason. It’s usually because of how much we doubt ourselves that we make many drastic adjustments instead of minor adjustments. It’s a very common problem, because When we feel that what we have done is not working, we may start to make drastic changes and abandon many normal modes of operations that have been successful for a long time.

Solution to Scenario (2): Stop, take a deep breath, reassure yourself that you have your previous experiences and you can handle this problem. Then objectively analyse if there is anything that you are truly doing wrong, and afterwards, make the small adjustments that you know would lead to eventual success. Don’t let your own doubt start eating you up. Whenever you feel that you let doubt take over your judgement, stop again and repeat the same steps.

(3) One’s mind has simply become too cloudy.

Sometimes, the problem is that there are too many distractions because we are feeling too overstressed by the pressure.  The sense of despair, frustration and sadness causes us to simply not think clearly.  Sometimes, we may just feel like quitting.  Other times, we may be so distracted that we cannot come up with any new plan. Usually, when we feel stuck, we become so eager to get unstuck that we end up giving ourselves more pressure.

Solution to Scenario (3): The best solution when this happens is to take some time-off from the job at hand.  For example, defenders would simply punt the ball out of the field in soccer/football just to gain some downtime to mentally and physically recuperate.  Maybe you are trying to write an essay, but you feel stuck and cannot think.  Simply take a really short break. Don’t think about the situation for a moment. Take a walk, preferably in a fast pace.  Drink some water.  Do something else that doesn’t take a lot of thinking.  Give yourself some time to get the mind back in the game.

(4) One starts to micro-manage everything.

Too focused on the task because of pressure can cause us to try to micro-manage each small section of every single task.  Your child is getting ready for a performance on stage.  He already has a lot on his mind.  Yet you are trying to get him to dress perfect, lecture him to make sure he hits every note properly on his violin.  Force him to eat 2 sandwiches even though he is full.  All these actions that are wrapping too tightly can become counterproductive.

Pause for a moment. Slowly breathe in for 7 seconds and slowly breathe out for 7 seconds, repeat for 1-2 minutes. Spend time to keep yourself relaxed so that you can see the big picture objectively. Now, look at the situation again. Objectively put yourself in the other person’s shoes before deciding if you should do each action.

(5) One often becomes irritable and cannot work with others.

When we feel pressured, we naturally get too focused on the task and the requirements to succeed, which makes us forget to communicate with other members of the team efficiently and thoroughly. Over-concentrating on the work without watching the interactions with others often leads to unnecessary conflicts that are counterproductive.

Communication is an important part of success. Make sure that the circle of relationships is always well-maintained with good communication in normal circumstances. This will help everyone to understand each other and the working patterns. During the stressful times, even when you cannot convey the wishes properly, they will be understandable and know how to provide the aids to help you.  Miscommunication is a major downfall in many situations, and it can cascade to transform a minor issue into a major problem.

Sometimes, feeling pressured is like falling into a hole.  It is difficult to get a grip on yourself and get out of the hole.  There is also always a feeling that you need to rush because what you have done so far hasn’t been working, and therefore, you feel like you must do things faster and better.  The key is to slow down and think about the situation so that you can do things SMARTER.  Slow down and evaluate whenever you feel overwhelmed.  Focus on the task and only the task that you can change.  Have faith in yourself and in what you are doing.  When you focus on the problems, you will have more problems. Always look at the big picture and objectively break down each task. Then more often than not, you will be able to succeed.


With love,

Cecilia Or

Always Remember Why Inc.

Always Remember W.H.Y.

Be Well, Be Happy, Be You