Living with balance is vital to our health and happiness. Just as in the world around us we actually need it to physically survive and grow emotionally. One of nature’s well known examples is the ecosystem. For an ecosystem to survive it must be balanced within itself, and if it is not, the system will get sick and eventually die. Humans are no different! For us, balance means a mix of hard ship and delight, fear and peace, calm and turmoil. The mix is necessary for us to experience because when we feel one it opens the door for us to also feel the other.
Two big symbols in nature that serve as daily reminders are the sun and moon. Would we understand and appreciate light without dark? We see it with emotions too. Would we be able to know happiness without experiencing sadness? Would we know and understand calm without chaos? A little known truth is that the depth of happiness we experience is proportional to the depth of pain that we have felt, it is balanced. To aid our journey, nature provides us with a system of balance that we typically ignore which leaves us spending our lives in an unhealthy state. Just as in nature, this state of consistent systemic chaos will eventually kill us both emotionally and physically..
Take a look in your world; are you living with balance between meeting your daily obligations and taking care of the most important thing in your life: you? Do you feel as though you are generally growing and thriving? If your day, or week, is filled with stress, anxiety, anger, etc. then you are probably not. The unfortunate reality is that most of us are not living in balance. All too often we feel burdened with the should’s of life and push ourselves to a state of exhaustion. Another exercise is to become aware of your language and explore how often you say I should or I need to. Can you feel your gut tighten when these words are spoken? We give and give to everyone and everything but what pleasures do we give to ourselves? Achieving a balance between ourselves and the world around us is a necessary lesson for all and it is in learning that lesson we begin to know peace.
Like a gymnast, we can approach our lives with the same dedication required to learn to walk the balance beam. In both cases it takes dedication, practice and patience to gracefully stay on top of the beam. Unfortunately, we are conditioned to be responsible in our obligations but are rarely taught how to set boundaries for ourselves. Typically, setting boundaries for ourselves is seen as act of selfishness rather than a loving act of self centeredness . Did you realize we can actually achieve more in a day, meet our emotional obligations, have better health, and feel more peace if we learn to pull back and set aside time for us? Not on a monthly or yearly basis, like through vacations, but in creating time on a daily basis for us. It doesn’t have to be much time but it does need to be some. Be aware: if you find yourself saying I can’t make the time, look at why you believe this for it is not true. We all can make room in our day for us time regardless of schedule or tasks. When taking care of ourselves truly becomes our priority we will work it out. Just as a gymnast masters the balance beam we too can master our life. Sure, it will take some thought, some juggling, some ability to say no, but when self care is at the top of the list; we will make it happen.
Cynthia Pickett, MSW, LCSW, LADC