How many of you have heard, probably from your mother, “Don’t over do it!”, or “Don’t overextend yourself!”? I know I heard it a few times when I was younger. What message does that send to the eager mind and spirit?
On the flip side sometimes the messages are “You can push through it.” or Don’t give up!” I like these messages better because they are more supportive of progress.
Why the mixed message in the first place? It’s all about balance I believe. We have to know when to forge ahead and when to step back and give ourselves a break.
I often find myself through the course of any given day saying to myself “I can do one more thing.” and I think women truly are better multitaskers than men, generally speaking of course. It’s not even so much about multitasking. It seems to be more about pushing ourselves to do more. Traditionally I think men are more apt to be this way in their jobs and I am not being sexist, I am saying traditionally.
How many times have you been dead on your feet pushing forward to do one more thing, attending to the needs of others before your own? Too many times I am sure!
New moms know the feeling, but even after the kids have flown the coop us mid-lifers still deal with it.
We become caretakers to our parents, we have husbands who work night shifts, we have family visiting from out of state, furkids to attend to, and our “grown up” kids to keep up with, just to name a few things that keep us pushing forward every day.
I have not even yet touched upon working women, whether working in the home, running their own business, or those working harder than most men (on average) at a career goal!
This is where balance comes into play.
It is a common misconception that to live a balanced life we have to continuously maintain balance. Oh my, if that were the case I would totally fail the balanced sector of my life.
Balance is not something we have or do not have. It is something we strive for and constantly readjust in our energy in order to maintain on an ongoing basis.
We have to set boundaries, we have to re-adjust, we have to keep tipping the scale back to keep our equilibrium.
We all know someone who seems to have it all together, and we wonder “How do they manage to stay so balanced while keeping so many balls up in the air?” Don’t be fooled! It is not any easier for them to do this than it would be for you, but they have figured out a few key points along the way to make the best of their own busy and complex life.
There are two main properties to living a balanced life. On one side we have the emotional and on the other, we have the logical. Emotional deals with wants and desires, where logical deals with responsibility and duty.
We have to place the right items on the right side to start. Yes, some of these things will cross-sector such as family. Family can be equally emotional because we want to spend quality time with our family but at the same time we have duty and responsibility, getting the kids to school, doctors appointments etc. This is where a nice handy diagram comes into play.
Draw a simple diagram of a scale large enough to take notes on. A poster board will be handy for this and use some colorful sharpies just to make it a bit more fun.
One one side label Emotional and the other of course Logic.
Begin to draft your scale. Write down what you need on your logic side, work, family, bills, housework etc. And on your emotional side list what you need, free time, exercise, family time, friends, etc. It’s your list there is no right or wrong.
Now when items cross-sector make some extra notes on this.
If your cross sectoring item is family be sure you note in what ways your family is an emotional balance and in what way they are a logical balance. This will come in handy when we are trying to stay on track.
My chart may be nothing like your chart, and even in making my chart it was difficult to decide where to place some things. Remember, it is your chart and you can always change it!
Sometimes we can easily become distracted or confused about how to get balance when we are being hit from all directions. It is hard to have boundaries when we are not even sure of our own scale and what is tipping it. By looking at your own hand made diagram you can easily reflect on where your boundaries are being crossed and when you are ignoring your own boundaries you set for yourself.
Some of us are really good at the logical boundaries and we know exactly what comes first while others of us are better at the emotional side of things but either can become a hazard if we are not careful.
For instance, some people can easily get distracted by a friend in need, putting aside our own needs and missing important deadlines or allowing for someone to take too much of us emotionally without giving back. While others of us put so much demand on ourselves to earn a nice living that we get off balance on the emotional side and do not give enough time to ourselves for spiritual growth, family time or relaxation. Neither is better or worse than the other side – what is best is a nice balance and with our chart, we can always get back to our center.
Boundaries are a key element to a healthy balanced life. Setting boundaries for ourselves and for others is not being selfish nor being self-involved. It is necessary in order to maintain our equilibrium.
We can not allow for others to literally push us off balance we must be firm but kind when we are being pushed too hard or too far.
By setting boundaries we can always know we are being fair.
When we allow for someone to push us in our balance of logic we tend to become reclusive and withdrawn and our focus is taken away from our work and thus our income and our lifestyles which can hurt our families and make us struggle too hard to be able to then find our emotional balance, when we lose our emotional balance we can become drained and even bitter or resentful.
It is one thing to want to help a friend in need but when they are pushing us too far we no longer have empathy for them and pull away from them. Some of us just tend to go this way more than others and our balance is almost too empathic or too kind for our own good. Some of us immerse ourselves in work trying to give our families a better life or earn enough to retire earlier or make enough for that long awaited vacation but in the mean time we lose connections we need to be happy as well. We lose our path and ourselves.
Using your chart you can always look at it and consider where you have been pushed as well as where you let yourself go, where you failed with your own boundaries and where you have been placing too much of your time and energy.
As you use the chart more and more you will notice it is becoming a part of you, a second nature, and you will no longer need this visual. When this time comes you will also notice that balance is becoming easier and easier to maintain!
How do you find balance in your topsy turvy world? Will you try out the chart system? What do you like or dislike about the system?