This job causes me too much pressure. I’m pressured to invest more for my retirement. My parents are pressuring me to find gainful employment. The pressure to complete this book is exacerbated by the constant call from my publisher. Coronavirus has put pressure on all of us to maintain safe distancing.

We hear the word pressure repeatedly in our lives, almost always with a negative connotation. This causes me to wonder if influence is the less difficult and less emotional baby brother to pressure.

For my part, I am extremely cautious about not applying anything can be interpreted as pressure. In the classroom, for instance, I will remind students to remain on task and suggest that they remember to focus. But I object to the idea of pressuring them in any way, by using guilt or fear of negative consequences. There’s plenty of time in their lives for that.

In our day to day interactions, I believe that the same types of rules apply. When you are my colleague, regardless of who’s leaning on me, I won’t pressure you to complete your portion of a project.

And if you’re my young child, I won’t pressure you to clean your room. My recollection is that I said, “It’s your room and if you want to live in a mess, that’s up to you.”

This is a time to extend as much kindness and empathy as possible; pressure is seriously misplaced. As I compare my book-in-progress to a jealous lover screaming for my attention, I hurry to remember that I need to observe my own rules and timetable, reminding myself that I have no true deadlines.

Keep your six feet of distance. Wear your mask. Stay at home. All of this is beyond enough pressure for one human or one family. From there, practice the golden rule when it comes to the pressure that you apply.

If something you’re about to say would be uncomfortable or unpleasant to hear, don’t say it. Often, it’s just easier to do a job yourself or extend some understanding. Shalom.

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