*image description: my to-do list from last week that I tried to make to achieve a sense of balance, but my 4-year-old had a different idea… Breathe. Accept. Breathe. ACCEPT.
It used to be that whenever I heard the word “balance” in reference to life, work, etc…, I pictured something stationary. Like rocks stacked precariously, but unmoving, one on top of the other. Or a seesaw perfectly at rest on its’ fulcrum. Not. Moving.
But then I realized trying to get to that point of stillness was giving me more anxiety. Any shift from that stationary state sent me spiraling into anxiety and thinking “something is wrong!”
So what did I learn from this? That stationary balance and expecting no movement is actually unstable.
There will be movement.
Stability comes from acceptance of where you are and the ability to adapt to the constant shifting state of things.
One way we can start to work towards that is realizing that wanting to feel safe is absolutely normal and healthy. It’s a basic, human need. But if our anxiety is always telling us that something is wrong, then we will always be chasing something safe. And that reactionary chase can sometimes jeopardize our other needs like autonomy, self-expression, connection, belonging, etc…
You can start by changing the vocabulary you talk to yourself with. I’ve replaced “balance” with “acceptance.” When I seek acceptance instead of balance, I can more clearly see my life, my situation, my thoughts for what they are and respond in a way that meets my needs for that moment. When we respond with acceptance, balance naturally follows. Imagine the see-saw again: say that you have an equal amount of weight on each end and the appearance is balance. Well, life has a way of tossing weight around – imagine adding a stone to one end of the see-saw. Now you are going to have to adapt by either shifting the fulcrum point or adding weight to the other end. We may spend a lot of energy on our families needs perhaps fulfilling our sense of belonging and purpose. However, if we do not add weight back to ourselves, we may loose a sense of autonomy or self-expression. If we know the things that fulfill our sense of autonomy, then we can add weight back to that to balance out the scales. This requires a rigorous honesty with ourselves so we can have a clear understanding of our needs.
Yes… easier said than done for most of us. Life is much messier than a nicely written blog post and to try and overlay this model on our lives is not what the point is.
The point is to consider it. Our Western Wellness culture talks a whole lot about balance and mindfulness and so on, yogayadayada (I love yoga, by the way) but what does it mean for you? How is it improving your life, your relationships, your community, to constantly chase this balance? Maybe we need to shift, just a little bit, and see this word for what it’s really asking of us: acceptance. How does it feel to think of having acceptance for your life versus balance? Or maybe you are someone who loves and lives by the word “balance” and that’s ok too! This is for those of us who instead of feeling calmed by seeking balance, feel stressed or inadequate. If seeking balance is doing that to you, maybe try something different.. Maybe acceptance is what you need.