How The Pressure To Measure Up Can Affect Your Mental Health

Tessa Koller

The pressure to measure up can have detrimental effects on your mental and emotional health. You may not realize that your thought processes and patterns are influencing you to keep pushing yourself, either for the right or wrong reasons. Every single one of us has different motivations to reach new heights in our professional lives or other areas of our lives.

If you're a hardworking individual, it's common to find yourself eager to measure up by being better than you were the day before. It's also common to get very down on yourself when you fall short or outcomes don't result in your favor.

Measuring up can mean different things each day. You want to eat better than you did yesterday, even if you ate clean. You want to produce more work than the day before. You want to be even more physically fit or in shape, so you keep raising the bar. You want to feel good, but you want to feel better than good.

These internal pressures may lead to the wrong approaches as you sort life matters and situations. By this, I mean, you may be fretting about every little thing that has gone wrong or is at risk for going awry. You might obsess over past outcomes while overlooking what's happening in the present moment.

The worst thing you can do is dwell on the false reality that, one day, something will happen for you that will make your life different or better than it was previously.

Long ago, I realized I had gotten into a pattern of only being happy when something game-changing happened. I had forgotten that living means to enjoy and make the most of each moment. It's about embracing the journey and engaging with what you're doing now. I've been through some serious hardships, having almost lost my life more than three times before the age of thirty-five.

Just recently, I nearly lost my life to long-haul Covid and experienced physical pain and agony that I wouldn't wish upon any other living being. Enduring pain and sitting with it reminds me that we all possess inner strength. Like anybody else might have done, I tried to rush through the moment to get to a place where I was feeling better and in no pain at all.

That's not how I want to live; rushing through things knowing how short life is and how quick the time goes.

This thought crossed my mind at my lowest of low when I was wondering if I was on the verge of a scary new normal; that I don't want to be someone who just survives through moments to get to the next one.

These days, I've come to learn harsh lessons about the cost of rushing through life, even when I am feeling my utter best. The concept of measuring up is really an illusion, not based on what is true or real. Rather, we're basing these illusions on what we think we should be doing and where we believe we should be.

Remember that where you are now doesn't mean you have to be greater in the next moment or more superior tomorrow.

Meditative breathing is my secret weapon to grounding myself in the now. Mindful breathing has changed how I go about obligations and tasks in my daily life.

To break these patterns of always trying to be better or greater, find ways to appreciate where you are today. I'm not completely cured from my battle with Covid and when I have any pain or discomfort, I return to my breath. Breathing isn't just something we do, it can also be a mechanism to recenter our thinking and ground ourselves in the present.

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For over ten years now, I've been writing for several publications from Thrive Global to Lifehack to The Mighty and to Yahoo. Expect to see articles covering the latest in lifestyle, health, entrepreneurship and creativity.

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