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If you are experiencing ongoing mental strain, I have a simple technique that may provide you temporary or even permanent relief. You can deprogram these expectations and mental habits fairly easily and release some of this tension from your mind. Here's how.
"I Have To" Thinking - One Major Contributor To Mental Strain And Tension
Step One - Identify The Pressure
While sitting quietly in a chair or lying in bed when you wake up at night, just start thinking of all the intense expectations and pressures that you put on yourself. Here are a few examples:
- I have to do something exceptional
- I have to have perfect health
- I should never make a major mistake in my life
- I should be in perfect health
- I must be incredibly productive
- I have to have a family and a perfect partner
Step Two - Reverse The Thought Pattern
As each of your "have to's" comes to mind, reverse the thought pattern. For example, with each of the thoughts above, you would just then negate the logic pattern.
So if you think, "I have to do something exceptional," you immediately follow it with "I don't have to do something exceptional." And say that second sentence a few times to yourself (silently in your mind or out loud--as you prefer).
Just keep doing this, coming up with all the "I have to's" you can think of--and then stating calmly and matter-of-factly the reverse as each comes to mind.
Yes, Goals Are Great, But Creating Crushing Mental Strain And Tension Is Not
I want to clarify that I'm not saying you shouldn't have goals or that whatever you come up with in your "have to" list is not something to desire and work toward. But let's agree that if you are allowing these "must haves" to create an atmosphere of extreme mental tension in your life, you need to dial it back--for your own sanity and health.
And here's where things get interesting. When you dial back all those unconscious "must haves" and just relax a bit, you may find you are much better positioned to actually work toward your goals or let them flow into your life. After all, there is a whiff of desperation in the "must have" mindset, no? How often do you see desperate people getting what they want?
Now It's Your Turn - What Are The "Must Have's" Haunting Your Life?
So give it a try. What are the must haves that haunt you or create mental pressure without your ever thinking about them? Think about it. If you are like me, a list of a ten or twenty (or more) "must haves" will come straight to mind. When you neutralize each loop with its reverse thought, you will immediately relax and be able to look around at your life with greater clarity, calm, and joy.
Going forward, strive to remain aware whenever "I have to" thinking starts to creep in and form the background of your day-to-day experience. Such thinking is a mental habit, and--with the technique I've outlined above--you can change the pattern and reduce the strain. Your mind, body, and soul with thank you!
(PS If you are experiencing extreme anxiety attacks or signs of depression, your challenges go beyond the scope of this post. I suggest you seek professional help. You owe it to yourself to get help.)