What is Balance?
Do you ever wonder what exactly does balance mean? We hear about it everywhere. It appears to be one of the new buzzwords. It probably isn’t and I probably think about it more than most since I find myself completely out of balance most of the time.
But what does finding and/or achieving balance mean?
It’s a good question, one that I have struggled for years to discover.
For me, it is more than simply work-home balance, so much more.
It’s More Than Work/Home
What I’ve discovered is that discovering balance is about looking at your life in a different way. While believing that work/home balance is important, it brings us to a larger issue. The issue, which I believe is the most important one, is about individual balance. Individual balance is more of an internal problem, rather than an external problem.
It’s easy to say that if only my job were better, I would have balance or if only I could get my home life under control, things would be better. But that isn’t always the case.
My hypothesis is that: When we learn to balance ourselves, the rest of our lives come into balance.
Hear me out.
I have struggled with balance for years. I have three beautiful children, none of whom I gave birth to but claim them as my own. Each of these children is different and the relationship is different, each requiring something else of me. I have two grandchildren whom I love. My job is one I worked hard for and continue to enjoy – most days. And, I have a husband who works hard and a home that is always a work in progress but that’s okay.
Sounds great, right?
It is great but none of that kept me from spiraling down until I was in danger of losing myself. I have worked for the past couple of years to climb out of that dark place I was in, a dark place that even now, every so often, threatens to overwhelm me again.
What I have learned, and continue to learn is balance isn’t a once and done kind of thing. It is something I need to work at daily. Much of it is by being present and aware of what is happening inside of me. Also, it helps to not stuff down the feelings but to acknowledge them. If I have learned anything, it is this: negativity and shame cannot survive the light.
The Five Areas of Balance
But how do I work at this every day? It’s quite simple really. I’ve learned to focus in five different areas in my life. Everything in my life generally falls into one of these five categories:
I will be sharing more about each of these in their own posts but I wanted give an overview here.
Cognitive – Cognitive work is the learning part of our lives. I often say that when we stop learning we die, which is probably some paraphrase of something I heard about somewhere. But the idea is that our brains are muscles and need to be worked out regularly. This can be done by reading – something other than social media. Or, by playing games that engage your mind such as sudoku, word searches, etc. We can also learn new skills in any area you are interested in. One of my favorite ways is to use TED Talks. The sessions are usually short and the topics are nearly endless.
Emotional – Emotional work is one of those things that many of us avoid. We stuff our feelings down, give in to the anger and let it rule over our lives and ignore. None of these are very helpful, especially when the feeling doesn’t want to be ignored and we are faced with the aftermath. That’s when we go kicking and screaming to someone for help. I will never tell you counseling is a bad idea but learning how to deal with your emotions is a skill that will serve you for your entire life. I will share some ways you can deal with your emotions without having to see a shrink.
Social – You would think that social would be the easy one but not if you are an introvert with trust issues. Yeah, that would be me. Social can mean so many things. It can be a simple as going to the movies with a friend or for coffee. It doesn’t have to be big but the point is to connect with another human being. My social circle is small and it is that way both on purpose and by accident. Making friends is sometimes difficult but, as long as you have boundaries – which I will share at a later date – often worth it.
Physical – Physical work can be one of the hardest depending on your beliefs surrounding exercise and self care. When I talk about physical, I mean taking care of your body. What does it need? What does it want? Both of those things are different. The fact is our bodies need care and movement. But that doesn’t mean that we have to exercise for an hour a day or eat only organic fruits and veggies. If that is you and you are okay with it, go for it. But I don’t work that way. I like cupcakes too much. Discovering what works for your body and keeps you happy and healthy is so important.
None of these things requires big changes but they do take effort and intention. As we explore each of these topics, I hope you take up some of the suggestions and challenges offered. Even small changes can make a big difference in your life.
Until next time,
P.S. I’m still looking for some practice clients as I finish my coaching certifications. If you are interested, please click the link: