Unloading Your Pressure Baggage

Pressure Baggage

On a spiritual level, pressure can be defined as an external force acting on us divided by our ability to bear the force or resist it. Thus, force and resistance capacity are two variants in the equation of pressure. Everyone has different resistance capacities. Two people with different resistance capacities will experience different amounts of pressure on being subjected to the same magnitude of force.  A feeling of pressure absorbs our freedom and gives us an experience of being ruled by an external entity. There are a lot of people who hold the belief that they can experience freedom only in the absence of an external force, which is almost impossible, since there is almost some force or the other exerted on the soul by ups and downs that takes place in the role that it plays through the physical body; which includes the physical body itself; profession; family; wealth, all types of relationships, etc. Even our own personality, thoughts, feelings, emotions etc. exert pressure on us at times.

Apart from the resistance capacity, the other variant in the equation of pressure is not only force but our perception of what the magnitude of the force is. This depends primarily on the beliefs that we carry. Two people will perceive the same situation in their role (as explained above) as forces of different magnitudes. While we hold the belief that life events, people and their expectations from us, are the forces that are the causes of our pressure, we will be able to do little to change the habit of being pressurized. It is we who pressurize ourself and allow the outside to pressurize us. We can either go through our life journey while experiencing feelings of being emotionally imprisoned, confused, rushed and hurried, or we can do the same with the power of faith and determination, at the same time remaining patient and maintaining our inner emotional stability. In some cases, some of us put pressure on ourselves, because we carry the belief that a bit of pressure is good in order to achieve what we want; it provides us with positive energy and motivates us. So this is an example of perceiving a force in our life, a force which does not exist. Such kind of pressure can deceive us and give us a feeling of being beneficial in the short term but it can have harmful effects on us in the long term. Some others might not experience this pressure because they do not carry this belief at all and don’t invite this force.

Can we experience freedom only when there is an absence of outside pressure? We feel pressured from many sides. At work, we feel the pressure to do tasks as per fixed guidelines of set systems and within boundaries of time, of keeping up our performance as per others’ expectations and as good as our compatriots. In relationships, we feel the pressure of experiencing success in them, of satisfying others and gaining respect from them. In studies, we feel the pressure of having to excel in them, not only because that is instrumental in building our future but because of the desire to be seen in a positive light by others. We feel the pressure of having to earn more and more wealth to satisfy the necessities, comforts and luxuries of the family and to maintain a certain image in society. In the face of problems, we feel pressure when we are not able to solve them quickly or in the way that we want. Failure or its fear, in any sphere of life, generates pressure in us.   Sometimes we experience pressure because the mind is not functioning as per our desires or directions or we are not able to transform our negative personality to a positive one as much as we want.  When we believe that something harmful can happen if we don’t reach our set objectives on time or in a certain manner, we feel pressured. Physical illnesses or their fear can also create pressure for some of us.

And so life turns into an endless amount of pressure crests, like speed breakers that appear one after the other, unsettling us and not giving us time to relax. When we feel pressured, it seems that the life forces rule our life and we do not feel free.  In the long-term, this repetitive habit of creating feelings of pressure and carrying such baggage ends up leaving us exhausted on an emotional and spiritual level.

Sometimes the pressure we are carrying is related to the situation we are in, sometimes we even carry a pressure of one situation in another situation i.e. it is unrelated pressure. All this continues throughout the day, day after day. What all this pressure does is increase the quantity of thoughts that we carry in our mind, which in turn reduces our efficiency and discriminating and judging power. The words and actions coming out from such a state of mind are improper and lacking in power, conviction and clarity. To ensure that we do not carry pressure baggage on our emotional back, as per our pressure equation (shared in the first message of this series), we need to change the incorrect beliefs that we carry, which are the root cause of our pressure and at the same time increase our ability to bear the different life forces. We carry thoughts that are determined by our belief of what success is and what failure is, what winning is and what losing is. Although we perceive such beliefs to be true, they are not true; they are like a facade that influence our perception of reality and generate in us feelings of pressure.  The truth, on the other hand, is deeper than beliefs.

While meditation will serve as an important tool to increase our inner power to tolerate or resist life forces; spiritual knowledge, understanding and wisdom will serve as an immensely important tool which will help us in correcting our beliefs. So in times of pressure, stopping yourself for a minute and assessing your thoughts, then going backwards, and checking the beliefs which are the root cause of the thoughts at that particular moment and then changing them requires strength and clarity, which we will obtain through the medium of spiritual wisdom. Once the beliefs are corrected, the thought patterns will change. Thoughts like – Maybe I won’t arrive on time or If I don’t finish this assignment successfully, I will lose my next promotion or If I lose my money in this financial investment, my family will stop appreciating me etc. which we create all the time – will be replaced by more positive thoughts of security, fearlessness, patience, peace, faith, determination, certainty etc.

Symptoms Of Stress

When we feel stressed we experience certain physiological (related to the body) and psychological (related to the mind) symptoms, whose importance we may not fully understand. These are normal signs that we should re-check our priorities – our body, or our state of mind, is telling us that something in our lives needs to change. Listed here are some of the common signs:
1. Loneliness – We may feel isolated (lonely) from friends and family, or experience a lasting sense of being lonely in a crowd.
2. Insecurity – We may suddenly feel shy or exposed around people with whom we are usually filled with confidence. Or we may believe that we are always being judged or criticized.
3. Loss of concentration and memory – We may find it hard to recall recent conversations or promises. We may often feel confused, so that understanding and remembering information could also be very difficult.
4. Fatigue and sleeping difficulties – Although we may feel constantly tired, we could also find it impossible to get to sleep.
5. Tears and mood swings – One of the most common symptoms is that we cry easily. We may also experience mood swings – joyousness followed by sadness or vice versa.

When we feel stressed our difficulty tends to be reflected in certain physiological (physical) and psychological (mental) symptoms, whose importance we may not fully understand. These are normal signs that we should re-check our priorities – our body, or our state of mind, is telling us that something in our lives needs to change. Listed here are some more common signs:
1. Restlessness – We could have difficulty sitting still for even short periods of time and we may play with our hands, play with our thumbs or play with the rings on our fingers.
2. Impatience And Short-temperedness – We could find ourselves becoming angry at any moment for simple reasons; or we may snap at people, too quick to assume that they are accusing us.
3. Obsessive Working – Overworking can be a stress symptom, although stress can also cause some people to work very little.
4. Loss Of Appetite – Food doesn’t interest us anymore. Either we don’t eat, or we over-eat junk food.
5. Fear Of Silence – Silence may cause us discomfort, so that we over-talk when with other people or leave on the television or music player when alone. Sometimes we may not tolerate noise at all.

 

Role Induced Stress

A very common form of stress which has raised its head in recent years is stress induced due to one’s role.  There was once a famous movie actor, well known as one of the best of all time and he was obviously very much aware of the same. One day as he was shooting for his new film; his director, a very prominent figure in the film-making arena, mentioned to him that there was a general perception spreading in the film industry as well as in the film going audiences that the actor was getting older with time and his performance was dropping and he needed to spruce up his performances if he had to compete with the younger actors. As soon as he heard this, he started taking his acting role and everything related to it over seriously and lost his happiness completely because he had been used to listening only to praises regarding his performances and reputation all his life. He also forgot all that the world had given him all his life, all the love, respect and adulation and became angry, bitter and resentful towards everyone he met, believing that they were no longer held those feelings for him as much as before. Also a general sense of fear and nervousness started developed inside him regarding his next performance.

One piece of information had changed him altogether. What had gripped him – Role Induced Stress. His emotion of stress was made of three sub emotions – sorrow, anger and fear (or worry). What was the cause – he over identified with his role. He believed he was an extremely famous hero actor. But was hero actor what he was? It’s what he did. But he learned to believe it is what he is.  Even we need to remind ourself that we get to play various roles on the world stage of action and that if we over-identify with any of the roles, which a lot of us do, then just like the actor, our creativity, spontaneity and lightness is reduced and we start to take things far too seriously, more than necessary, and as a result get stressed.

It’s not at all wrong to treat what we do seriously, but it’s a mistake to believe what we do is extremely extremely important and we are extremely busy people living an extremely busy lifestyle. This kind of consciousness makes us over-serious. A very common sign of this is carrying a lot of thoughts of one role into the other. E.g. Aarti, a young mother, switches roles from a software executive in the corporate sector, a role which she plays in the entire day, to a parent and wife in the evening. If she is over thinking about her day-role while playing her evening-role, it is a sign she is over-identifying with her day role and there is a lack of detachment. As a result she starts becoming over-serious and suffers from role induced stress as a result. There is a deep connection between seriousness and fear. E.g. In this case of Aarti, as a result of attachment to her role, there are lots of fears that she carries regarding her role of software executive – fear of loss of position; loss of love, respect and reputation – either in her company or in general in society, not succeeding, not getting promoted etc. because of which she is over-serious and she carries the role in her head almost all the time, even when she sleeps. That is why so called extremely busy people sometimes complain of sleep problems.

This can happen with us, with any role we play. This kind of stress, just like in the case of the actor (explained yesterday) is generally made up sorrow, anger and fear – one of these three different negative emotions from time to time or more than one at the same time – phases of dejection or feeling low or a lack of enthusiasm or a general disinterest in life events; phases of frustration and experiencing a lack of control of events and people, due to which there are frequent outbursts of anger and phases of immense worry regarding the future, all of which affect our mind, our physical body, relationships and even success of our role; although it is our role itself (our over-identification with it) which is the root cause of this emotional turmoil inside us. So instead of benefitting our role, our over-concern for it starts affecting it adversely.

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