As you read the following story, ask yourself if you think the basketball player would be feeling pressured.
The answer may surprise you.
It's the championship game before a sold out crowd. This team hasn't won the championships in 5 years and the excitement and tension is high. Time has almost run out. It's all down to this last penalty shot. The chants of the crowd are deafening.
This player looks calm as he approaches the free throw line. All eyes are glued to him and his every move. The crowd is suddenly completely silent. They know if he makes it, they'll win the game, if he misses, their dreams will be crushed yet again. You could hear a penny drop it's so silent. He bounces the ball once. Twice. Looks up at the hoop and...
So, what do you think?
Is this player feeling pressure at this moment?
And the answer is, "it depends".
Feeling pressured always comes from the inside, not the outside. And, the only time you'll feel pressured is if you're focusing on failing. It's that fear that makes you feel pressured.
So, in the above story, if the coaches have done their job, he'll be focusing on doing what he's done a thousand times in practice and making the shot easily and effortlessly. If he starts to doubt himself and starts to think, "if I miss this, we'll lose the championships" then he's creating pressure for himself because he's focusing on failing.
As Tommy Lasorda says, "only when the player thinks positively can he deal with his fear of failing".
Interesting, don't you think? You create your own pressure simply by letting fear take over your thoughts.
Another source of feeling pressured - not taking responsibility
Take a look at the following Byron Katie video called, "my father pressures me too much". It's actually quite funny but it makes a really great point that feeling pressured comes when you stop taking responsibility for your own actions. You always have a choice as to how you respond to a situation.
As you see from this video, you choose what to do. It's when you add the thought that someone is pressuring you that you suddenly feel like you don't have any options. You tell yourself you don't have a choice, that someone else is forcing you to make a certain decision. That's when you feel pressured.
The other thing I think is good about the video is that it's explaining the subtle difference between "choosing" and "reacting". Yes, she's being told to help with the shoes but she can take a step back and think about how she wants to react. Does she have all the info she needs? (how long will she be grounded, what happens if she doesn't) and then she can make a decision. She takes back her power and stops feeling pressured when she takes the time to choose her reaction.
If you can take a step back and realize that it's your responsibility to make the right decision for you, you no longer feel pressured.
How you view a situation will completely change it. If you're focusing on failing or worrying about making the wrong decision, you're putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. Also, by simply reacting instead of thinking about how you want to respond, will make you feel pressured.
Change situations like this simply by changing your focus. Ask yourself, "what am I focusing on? and "what do I want?". This will enable you to detach from the fear and make a much more effective decision free from feeling pressured.
More Help To Deal With Feeling Pressured
Byron Katie's Books
I Need Your Love - Is That True? How to stop seeking love, approval, and appreciation and start finding them instead by Bryon Katie “The unspoken belief is that unless people approve of you, you’re worthless” Can you relate to the above quote? If you can then you'll love this book. Byron Katie uses a simple technique of getting you to ask yourself 4 simple questions. It allows you to see what is "reality" and what you've added with your own thoughts. She has another book as well called, "Loving What Is" which is very similar but touches on slightly different topics. They're such simple concepts but really powerful. Recommended.
Another great resource you're going to want to have is "3 Questions That Will Change Your Life". You can download it now for even more strategies and tips on how to easily take control of your life. 50 pages. Format: pdf file