Encouragement and Pressure. Two very powerful forces in our daily lives.
My mornings, afternoons and evenings are filled with some sort of encouragement and pressure. Whether it be pressure I put on myself, encouragement I lend to others, or a combination of the two that I receive from outward sources.
Sometimes I find there’s a thin line between encouragement and pressure. I definitely put pressure on myself for sure. And I feel as though we all probably do. Not significant pressure, but there are definitely elements of my life that are in place because I feel as though they make me a better person. A sense of self aggression almost, but in my life they don’t hold that kind of strength. But they do hold a place.
I exercise each day because, yes, it does keep me mentally sound, it gives me an opportunity to be alone with my thoughts, and fills me with a sense of calm on the other side. But on the flip side, I also do it because I want to keep my body in shape. Pressure. It breaches beyond encouragement.
I lend encouragement to others when it is asked of me. I have encouraged friends who were lonely to strive toward meeting new people. When contemporaries are bored, I encourage them to be introspective and discover what drives them, moves them, makes them whole. I encourage living life to the fullest. I encourage wrapping your fingers around each moment and loving it. I encourage embracing people around you, especially the ones whose shells are hard and difficult to penetrate.
When it comes from elsewhere, I am encouraged to be nonjudgmental. I’m encouraged to leave my biases at the door. I’m encouraged to find a good balance in my life of work and play. I’m encouraged to be well knowledgeable about the world around me, and active within my community.
So how then are encouragement and pressure connected?
In my opinion, pressure is encouragement taken one step further. You can be lightly encouraged to do something because it would be “in your best interest, or will make you a better version of yourself.” But pressure almost has negativity attached to it and trails behind. I hate feeling like I’m being pressured into doing things. And I’ve felt this in many situations: at the top of a mountain ready to snowboard down, and pressured to take a particular route that I’m uncomfortable with, pressured in relationships to go faster than I want to…it’s there and so present.
As I become aware of the distinction between encouragement and pressure, I realize that internally pressure hurts me.
It makes me sad that I put that kind of pressure on my self. I don’t want to cause that kind of pain in others by pressuring them in any way to do things that I perceive as right and just. People weren’t meant to be pressured—it builds up anger and frustration.
Only sprinkle encouragement when necessary on top of the sundae of life.
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger