By Alecia Rice
Q: I’m feeling so much social pressure. It’s hard enough to make decisions without feeling pressed by others. How do I make decisions under these circumstances? — Under Pressure
A: Dear Under Pressure,
We’re feeling all kinds of social pressures lately. Do we wear a mask, volunteer or schedule a trip? Do we attend social engagements? What do we post on social media? How do we deal with what “they” might think of us when we feel differently from them? It can be hard to get clear on what to do, which leaves the answers to be sought solely within our heart and mind.
When faced with decision-making, check in with yourself to see how you feel at a visceral level. Do so without any considerations of what others might think about your choice. You may be completely split about your decision, which might make coming to a conclusion challenging. In these circumstances, discuss it with a respected person for a fresh perspective and balance. Just hearing our thoughts expressed out loud often brings clarity.
After that, if you feel compelled, consider what others might think about your decision, to help you balance outcomes. Caution: When considering what others might think, be aware that it’s easy to fall into false assumptions. Often when we think another is judging us, that projection is actually us judging ourselves by proxy through a detached external source and surprisingly, we’re often wrong. Even better than assuming is to communicate clearly by asking them how they feel. If we haven’t learned to use our voice yet, now is the time to start. Clear communication is essential moving into our next normal. We may as well practice getting more comfortable with building that voice muscle now.
It’s not easy to go against the grain socially, whether we straight up say no, or make an excuse because doing the former is just too hard. Having thought out responses for certain circumstances ahead of time, can give us more courage and clarity to communicate our decision with confidence.
Ultimately, we’re the ones who will have to live with our decisions so we need to stay true to ourselves. Some decisions might save lives; others might not be so dramatic. Should we make a decision that’s contrary to what we want to do, it will raise our stress levels and send the “monkey mind” into overtime. Let’s save some hassles by making the decision to be true to ourselves, to make it easier to live in our body with the mind as our neighbor.
Q: I’m homeschooling two children, working full-time from home and caring for an elder parent. This is one of the most difficult times of my life and I’m failing at all of these things. The pressure is wearing me down. How do I manage this? —Tapped Out
A: Dear Tapped Out,
During these extraordinary times, it’s important that women ease up on ourselves while putting aside perfectionistic tendencies and examining unconscious “rules” we’ve set for ourselves. Many of us are in survival mode and can only deal with what we’re forced to deal with because we don’t have our usual energy and coping mechanisms at hand. We have been traumatized and are in an unconscious grief process from all the forced changes lately.
We’re stressed and still in survival mode. This is a time for extreme self-care while practicing acceptance and allowance. I advise addressing only the most crucial things which may likely be family, health, as well as keeping a paycheck coming in. Anything that’s not completely necessary or doesn’t bring us comfort or joy should be shelved for later. Maintaining mental health with connected family time and fun is most important. House cleaning and working out can wait—unless they are therapeutic for you—and some meals might be ordered out for more quality time.
When we’re suffering, it’s important to check our attachments and resistance to what’s showing up, compared to how we think it “should” be. Releasing attachments can ease stress, while working on allowing experiences to see if we can better flow with timing and opportunity.
Practice self-compassion. Ask for help when needed, even if it means temporarily restructuring traditional roles in the family. Find ways to soothe yourself and calm the nervous system while engaging in things that distract you, fill you up and bring you joy. Practice treating yourself as you would advise a best friend, because we deserve to cut ourselves some slack in the same way we do for others.
Alecia Rice integrates higher concepts with wisdom to bring forth balance, perspective and clarity. She’s a personal advisor, speaker and gatherer of women. For perspective on life issues, you’re invited to text questions and comments to 681-321-1109. Discussions continue at Ask Alecia on Facebook.