Amateur psychologists – all of us, everybody – will offer advice on how to perform under pressure. This suggests less that they have solutions, than we have problems quite often performing under pressure.
Pressure entering an equation affects how we do things. Tasks that are easy to do become less easy, often difficult, sometimes practically impossible.
The tasks in question could be anything really. Things we do routinely at home. Things we have to do at work. Or at play. Or in sports. Or at school or college when it comes to a test or an exam. Pressure can be experienced in all sorts of situations and can be very detrimental to getting the task done.
Think of the famous 3 foot putts: the ‘easy’ putts missed because of the gravity of the looming result. Or the penalty shootouts to win cup matches or whole competitions. What was something that could be done thousands of time and pretty much blindfolded becomes a nervy, leg shaking, muscle paralysing, traumatic, and unstable action. And those passengers on the task really get in the way
Pressure is not always a ‘felt’ experience. Often pressure is indicated by changes in performance, from getting it done to being unable to do it or anything like it – frustrating at best, devastating if the result proves somewhat disastrous to an ambition.
Being able to sense pressure is key to being able to begin to counter its effects. That, in itself, is a very value skill, an exercise in emotional intelligence. Helpfully, lessons learned in any one performance area are there available for repurposing pretty much anywhere else! And, as the saying goes, it cuts both ways. Exam fixes can be beneficial elsewhere. Sports fixes can be beneficial to exam performance!
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