Last year I started attending a new small group that focused on insecurities and overcoming them. One of the thoughts that came up in the group was how so much of the pressure we feel, we’ve placed on ourselves and it’s something that has stuck in my mind since.
Sure, a lot of ideals come from the media, or from people we compare ourselves to, or from things we were taught as children and I know this goes a whole lot deeper than I can go here. But really think about it; how many of the pressures and stresses and insecurities that we feel are coming from ideas we’ve created and pressures that we have placed on ourselves? We get so caught up in the “I have to’s” and “I should’s” and “I need to’s” – and for what?! Who says?!
My husband is much better at relaxing than I am. It’s a proven fact. Often, I’ll be going around vacuuming and doing laundry and doing this chore and that chore while he takes time for himself to relax, and I’ll feel myself getting angry at him because there’s other things that I would like to do outside of chores! The other day I stopped and asked myself “who says” I need to finish this chore today? It sure wasn’t him, he never puts that pressure on me. It sure wasn’t guests or friends or family, because no one was coming over that day. It wasn’t even an overly important chore. And so, I put the vacuum down and joined my husband watching TV – because the only person who “said” that chore needed to be done was me. And guess what? I wasn’t angry at him anymore. We didn’t have a fight over how I do more (I don’t) or how he never helps (he always helps), because for once, I was able to check my thoughts. (Disclaimer : 1) my husband is fantastic about doing his share of work around the house, and this is by no means a dig at him. He truly is better at leaving things be and resting when he needs it and it’s something I need to become better at. 2) I do understand that at some point, stuff has to be done. Our house is not a pigsty and we are relatively successfully adulting. I’m talking more about that never-ending to-do lists, or those never-stopping lists we have running through our heads).
And then I started to think about how, as a childfree adult, I often “feel” pressure and judgement from those around me and I started to wonder what percentage of the time I’m actually “perceiving” that pressure and judgement when really, none exists. Or, if at the very least, I personally expand on pressures or judgments and make them a bigger deal in my own head. How often do I take an offhanded comment and blow it out of proportion and let it affect my mood, my decisions and my relationships? Because although I’m happy with our decision to not have kids, I do sometimes feel insecurities in regards to this decision. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling insecure or sensitive, I tend to try to protect myself with anger or defensiveness and suddenly, a small comment that someone forgot they even made has become this huge deal in my mind and I let this affect my day and drive a wedge between myself and this other person – all because I have an existing insecurity surrounding what they’ve said to me.
And then as I expand this thinking to other areas of my life, I wonder how often I’ve lost peace and gained frustration – for nothing? How often have I let my day take a negative turn because I’ve allowed my existing insecurities to allow a (likely innocent) comment to fester and grow into something ugly? How often have I read into something and allowed something that maybe wasn’t even said to blow up into something ugly? How often have I taken a text or email out of context because it touched a sensitive spot in my heart? Maybe this is just me. I DID have myself convinced that I had made our Google assistant mad at me one day – and she’s a computer, so maybe I’m nuts and no one can relate. But maybe, just maybe, this is how everyone thinks and so much of society’s hurts and frustrations are stemming from people reacting defensively when they perceive someone attacking their insecurities.
And I know that some people can be just plain ugly and mean and hurtful and that some comments are intended to get under your skin. But I can’t help but wonder, if we can sit down and realize what our insecurities are and what hurts us and causes us to react with anger or defensiveness (or perhaps in some other way) – how much easier would it be to “let things roll off our backs” so to speak?
What about you? Do you think that you’ve placed extra amounts of pressure on yourself? Do you have higher expectations for yourself than anyone else does? Do you find that your insecurities cause you to react defensively?