April 5, 2022

How we (Unnecessarily) Stress Ourselves Out.


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So many of us are stressing ourselves out—unnecessarily.

We put high (or impossible) expectations on ourselves and then get frustrated when we can’t meet those expectations.

We’re also unrealistic with what we can handle (thinking we can fit more into our days or hours or minutes than possible).

We often don’t account for downtime or the need for rest or for the fact that there will be times when we just don’t want to do those things we had originally planned.

And then when we fail to meet our expectations or can’t do as much as we thought or feel we need to rest, we often get frustrated or judge ourselves—as if there’s something wrong with us for not living up to what we’d mentally decided or planned on or envisioned.

When the truth is that the only thing that was wrong was our initial perception—our unrealistic plans or thoughts or ideas.

We weren’t realistic. We were overestimating. We didn’t account for physical or mental or practical, real-world limitations.

We were stressing ourselves for no reason!

Many of us do this all the time.

And we don’t even realize it!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most practical person in the world. I’m more of an idealist. And I have struggled with understanding that there are practical, real-world limitations to the thoughts and ideas that come up in my mind.

And when the real world doesn’t live up to the idea in my mind (or my plans), I have often been left feeling frustrated or even wildly dissatisfied.

But this is a practice of mine; it’s something I’ve been working with for a while. It’s something I’ve become acquainted with.

I’ve learned through watching and being present with myself to try to set more realistic expectations. I’ve also learned about my reactions to not being realistic (the resulting frustration or disappointment). And I’ve learned that because I’m not the most naturally practical person, I may be unrealistic times. And that’s okay. I’ve learned to have lightness with myself when I’m being unrealistic.

With time, I’ve noticed that I get less frustrated when I overestimate or am unrealistic, and I’m better able to playfully accept it. I’m also getting better at being realistic.

To lessen the stress and frustration that comes from being unrealistic, we can do a couple of things:

1. Work to become more realistic (think about time, logistics, how we feel, what actually feels feasible).

2. Hold the awareness that we may continue to be unrealistic at times (maybe even often!), and give ourselves grace when it happens.

To begin to stop stressing ourselves out unnecessarily, we just have to start noticing when we do it and in the ways that we do it. We just have to pay attention to our patterns, to how we feel.

Through observation, we’ll learn our tendencies—in what ways we set unrealistic plans, in how we feel when those plans aren’t met.

And when we see it enough, we’ll be able to learn to be more realistic and to be gentler with ourselves when we fall back into unrealistic patterns.

A lot of our stress comes from us, from our own minds.

Most of us are stressing ourselves out for no reason. Because of our own thoughts, ideas, expectations. Because of situations we create through our own minds and perceptions. Because of ideas we have, ideas that have come from within us, which we’ve imposed on ourselves from within ourselves.

Once we see how we do it to ourselves, we can begin to consciously not do it to ourselves.

And we can begin to be more forgiving and light when it happens, when we fall into those unrealistic tendencies.

We may even be able to laugh at ourselves.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to laugh at ourselves.


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