Balance isn’t something valued by everyone. And balance for you may be unbalanced to someone else. Finding balance isn’t about everyone living some bland, reasonably perfected life. It’s about living the life YOU value, and being true to that. Balance can be still be bold. If you are suffering and feel your life is “out-of-whack” here are some suggestions for self-reflection.
1) Be reasonable with yourself
Many people have unreasonable expectations about what they can accomplish in a day (or at all, after all, this good Earth has limits). This leads to feeling frantic, unsettled, disappointed, and, ultimately, the quality of our work suffers. There is only so much you can do in a day, and do well. Over-booking leads to burn-out and self-defeating patterns. Personally, I notice that I’m over-extending, if the natural cycles of the day or week are short-changed. Each task or project has a beginning, middle, and end. If you habitually get half-way through the middle of something, only to abandon your task for the next, you will be left with ten unfinished tasks and a large mess. Two things well-done in a day (or week) are worth more than ten abandoned tasks that leave you with a lot to finish at the end.
Get a calendar and schedule out your goals, and see if you can reduce or reorganize so that you have time for each task. When doing this, make sure you include all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, not just accomplishment-based activities. Your spiritual life matters, as does your social, physical, intellectual, emotional life!
We need to stop and rethink how we are living. Does our day, our week, our month reflect who we are, what’s most important to us, and demonstrate balance? At SpiritQuest, we use a “wheel of balance” to help make this reassessment easier. Basically, this wheel is made of your emotional, intellectual, physical, social, creative, spiritual, and work life (including all categories from financial to the dishes). I also like to include fun or relaxing time in there as well. It helps to rate the quality of each of these categories—how satisfied you are with each. Also rate how important each area is to you, then note how much energy each day is devoted to one category. Most people find one or two are over-represented, while one or two are similarly neglected.
Noticing and dealing with negative emotions as they arise is very important. If our mindfulness lapses, we may not even notice we are experiencing negative emotions. Negative emotions don’t have to be a problem—they are a natural and normal part of being human. The problem is when they go unnoticed, unchallenged, and we begin to believe them. Actively practice noticing negative thoughts without admonishing yourself for having them. Once you get better at seeing them arise, practice being open to what they have to teach you. Is it important? Or does the negative emotion come from a false belief that you are ready to release (i.e. that you aren’t good enough as is, etc.)
4) Recognize you cannot do it all, and be ready to let go
I have bad news for those of you who believe anyone can have it all: you can’t. No one can have “it all,” because whenever we make a choice, we automatically exclude all other possibilities. Many of us want to deny this fact because it is quite uncomfortable. It can lead many to live in a frenzy, addicted to maximizing, while others become paralyzed because the choices are too many. You do have to choose what is most important and leave the rest. You will be the most satisfied with your life if you live each day as closely to your inner sense of purpose as possible, and let go of everything else. This requires sacrifice.
5) Get yourself some Grit: Believe in yourself and your path
Walking your path, strong in your truth, will not always be easy. Courage or “hutzpah” can be learned. You will have to dig deep within and find your inner advocate, that inner voice that says “no” to distraction and “yes” to you and to life. This is my favorite piece of advice about living in balance. Balance calls to mind delicate placement of rocks—grace, wisdom, elegance—and it does requite all these things. But finding balance also means fighting our inner “demons” that have, in the past, lead us off our truth and tried to trick us into excessive passivity, dread, boredom, and despair. To find balance, you must develop grit, and have the presence of mind to be aware of the times you stumble, to pick yourself up and not get confused about which path to get back on. Stay the course.
Join us for a Sedona wellness retreat to help you find balance in your life, and stick with it.