This is the fifth installment of the Know Your Own series. To read earlier posts in the series, click on the titles below.
Each of us have certain pressure points. If one of these pressure points is triggered we may become upset, sad or even angry.
Naturally a lot of people can share the same pressure point. Examples would be people who don’t like to see animals mistreated or people who defend the rights and protection of children (I would like to think we all fit into this last category but sadly that seems not to be the case).
While it is important to know what sorts of comments and actions trigger powerful reactions, it is equally important to be able to handle our pressure points when they occur. Controlling the stress and pressure in our lives is important for our livelihood, health and well-being.
Here are a few tips for knowing, understanding and keeping on top of your pressure points.
Know your pressure points
Often your pressure points are based on your values (which is another good reason to know what your values are in the first place). If someone violates one of your values, it can ignite a response.
Pressure points are also based on experience. I will give you a personal example. My Dad died of lung cancer. In certain conversations and situations, smoking can be a pressure point for me, which can get interesting when I have friends who smoke.
While I secretly might feel like yelling at smokers about what they are doing to their bodies, shouting at your friends never goes down well. I also know from experience that lecturing a smoker simply doesn’t work. I can’t control the behavior of my friends, however I can choose to control my behavior and be as far away from their cigarette smoke as possible.
I remember years ago I snapped at one of my friends when he made a comment about smoking. My Dad was in hospital at the time and I had a rare night out with friends. I was sad, exhausted and anxious. Not one of my finer moments but I understand now why I reacted the way I did.
Know when and how to calm yourself
If we commented or flew off the handle every time someone pushed our buttons, our lives would get messy. Messy, complicated and stressful. Imagine how many disputes would break out at work if everyone was loudly voicing their opinion every time someone upset them. I know what some of you are thinking, there might already be some people in your office who do just that!
We need to be able to calm ourselves.
People calm themselves in different ways, so you need to know what works best for you. Perhaps it’s taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk (if that option is available), listening to music, exercising, yoga, meditation, reading a good book or spending some time alone.
A lot of us and I admit to doing this myself, use drinking to relax. Sometimes after a long, hard day a glass of good quality red wine and sitting out in my courtyard with my cat Belli enjoying the cool evening breeze can be just the ticket.
The key, I feel is moderation. If you are drinking everyday to relax yourself, warning bells should be going off. Something most likely is not right in your life. Binge drinking is another sign of a problem. This applies to the usual suspects that we tend to reach for when we have a problem. Overeating, gambling, drugs or shopping. Focus on the real problems that are causing you to act out in the first place. Deal with the problem instead of trying to numb yourself.
No one wants to walk around life feeling like they are in a pressure cooker. Not many people want to be friends with someone who has a notoriously short fuse either.
Know when to stand up for yourself
There are times when you should stand up for yourself or your cause. Sometimes we simply have to speak out for what we believe in. Think assertive, not passive/aggressive.
Be clear and concise about the point you want to convey. Be firm but fair.
In your personal relationships, don’t say mean and hurtful things simply to make a point. Being spiteful will only come back to bite you in the end.
The trick is knowing when to stand up for yourself and when to shut up. There can be a fine line between the two. Usually we stand up for a value or cause we are passionate about. Squabbling over every tiny detail is not recommended. We’ve all heard the expression – pick your battles.
Let go of the past
I have talked about this before on this blog. Coming to terms with our past can be quite challenging. Letting go of hurt, guilt and grudges can be difficult. Without a doubt, pressure points can be triggered by dwelling on the past.
Watch how someone’s mood and demeanor changes instantly when they start talking about an ex-husband or ex-wife, particularly if it was a bad breakup or separation, especially if there was a messy financial situation, custody of a child or infidelity involved.
I am not saying it’s easy to overlook any of these things but if they are your pressure points, you will need to find a way to deal with that pressure, particularly if there are children involved.
Understand people have different triggers
If you are a perfectionist but people around you are in ‘that’s good enough’ mode, you are likely to feel stressed.
Why can’t everyone have your level of excellence you ask yourself? The short version. People are different.
If you constantly expect people to have the same values or standards as you, you will be disappointed.
I am the first to admit, it can be extremely frustrating when people close to you have completely opposing values and beliefs from yours. Family spring to mind immediately. Accepting other people opinions and practices can be hard.
Do your best to be sensitive to other people’s feelings.
Agree to disagree
Sometimes it is just a matter of agreeing to disagree.
Take my advice and give up on conversations where someone is trying to convince you black is white. Discussions like this are exhausting and don’t end well. Usually one person will throw in the towel and agree, simply to silence the other person. Or a major argument could break out, which can lead to resentment later. Hardly the sort of interactions you want to be having in your life.
Where possible, change the subject onto something more neutral.
Hang out with like-minded people
If people with opposing values are driving you to distraction, it might be time to find people who share the same views, opinions or hobbies as you.
Spending time with like-minded people can be rewarding, interesting, fun, thought-provoking and can bring great joy into your life.
The goal is more peace and joy; less pressure.
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