Walking The Tight Rope, or The Illusion Of Balance
I've had a lot of discussions lately with people who are saying things like:
'I just can't seem to find balance in my life'
'I feel like I am being pulled in all directions'
'I'm so exhausted from working/taking care of other people, I have no time or energy for fun'
'Whenever I take time for myself, I feel guilty, like I should be doing something else'
'I just can't seem to get on top of things'
And so on.....Sound familiar? Well, you are NOT alone my friend. Life balance is a hot topic these days. People are talking about it around the water cooler, in online forums, at moms and tots playgroups and everywhere in between. There are books written about it, websites devoted to it and products dedicated to helping you find it. We are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off, chasing after the coveted 'balance' like it's the Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup, or the Academy Award of life.
"If I could just find a way to have some balance in my life, then everything would magically fall into place and life would be 'perfect'"... right?
I hate to burst the bubble sunshine, but that 'life balance' thing everyone is talking about...... is a load of hooey! It's an illusion. Plain and simple, it's just not attainable. In fact, the incessant pursuit of life balance is making us more stressed out and, well, unbalanced, than we have ever been.
Sorry love, but you just can't have it ALL....none of us can. I know, I know.....how dare I say that out loud! How dare I suggest even for a minute that you are not superhuman, that you might not be able to keep a spotless house, raise perfectly groomed and well-mannered children, have the body of a supermodel, volunteer at the soup kitchen every Sunday, bring your aging parents to all their medical appointments, hold down a full time job, coach your daughter's hockey team, AND go on a weekly date night with your significant other. But, you protest, THAT'S what well adjusted, happy, caring, intelligent, people who manage their time well do! THAT'S what a balanced life looks like damn it!
Sure.......if you say so. If being all things to all people, and eventually crumpling into an exhausted heap on the floor, your victory flag waving in the air like some totally spent marathon runner, sounds like a 'balanced life' to you. By all means, chop chop, carry on. But, I suspect that's not actually what anyone has in mind when they contemplate a 'balanced life'.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that what we're really striving for in our incessant pursuit of balance, are certain feelings....feelings like calm, joy, control, peace, stability, connection and satisfaction. Those feelings just aren't going to visit, if you are a perpetually stressed out, frazzled, hot mess!
To me, balance is something I feel on the inside, regardless of what it may look like on the outside to other people. And, my idea of balance might look very different than yours or anyone else's. The point is that a 'balanced life', means different things to different people at different times. Part of our problem is that we look around at other people and compare our lives to theirs. This is never, ever a good idea. We need to realize that what helps someone else feel balanced in their life, may not be at all what we need to get those same feelings. There are many paths to the same destination and you are always free to forge your own.
For example, I am totally o.k. with never having all of my laundry done. To someone else, a perpetual pile of undone laundry might make them feel completely off kilter. And that's O.K.! In general, at present, these are the things I need to feel a sense of 'balance' in my life:
- Time to do something creative on a regular/almost daily basis
- Sitting down to a home cooked meal with my family at least 4-5 times a week.
- Having some type of meaningful conversation with my husband daily, even if it's only for 5 minutes
- Regular contact with my extended family and my friends
- Having at least one reasonably 'tidy' space I can relax in....and somewhere comfortable to sit.
- Saying and hearing 'I love you' at least once a day to/from my kids and husband
- Having some solitude at least once or twice a week - time to sit and read, write, soak in a hot bath, cook, or contemplate in quiet.
- Having surroundings that are aesthetically pleasing to me. Colours, fabrics, items that are a reflection of my personality.
- Feeling like I have accomplished something useful by the end of a weekend (a task that needed doing, a blog post written, some meals prepped in advance, reconnecting with good friends over dinner, having some quality time with my kids, are all things I classify as 'useful')
- Learning something new or having some type of insight/new idea often.
- Getting some yoga in and connecting with nature at least a couple of times a week.
I suspect that your list will look somewhat different than mine. It's all good....and that's the point. As long as YOU feel the balanced feelings you are seeking.....it doesn't matter what the general consensus is!
So friend, realize that if you are seeking the text book version of a 'balanced life', you are chasing after the impossible dream. There really is NO such thing as a 'balanced life', and the sooner you get comfortable with that notion, the sooner you can start to find the feelings of balance you're really going after.
Here are a few tips to help you connect with your version of balance:
1. Declare and believe that you just can't have it all. You are not superhuman and cannot be all things to all people. Feels good, doesn't it?
2. Decide what balance looks/feels like to you. Keep in mind that your version of a 'balanced life' may look very different than someone else's.... and that's perfectly o.k.! You're living YOUR life remember....not someone else's.
3. Write it down! Seriously, I mean this. Putting thoughts and ideas to paper makes them much more 'real'. It helps you take yourself seriously, and it gives you something to refer back to when you are falling off the rails and need a reminder of what you truly want and believe.
4. Resign yourself to the fact that it will never be perfect. There WILL be times when the shit hits the fan and you find yourself having to suck it up and do more than your share. Or times when you can't keep up your end of the bargain because there are other things that need your immediate attention. But knowing that this doesn't have to be a permanent scenario, helps you get through those 'unbalanced' times, and back on track when they pass.
Here's to finding YOUR version of balance! If you want to share your own experiences or thoughts on the subject, I invite you to leave a comment below. The more, the merrier!
P.S. Feel like you're not quite sure HOW it is you want to feel....WHAT feelings will give your own personal sense of balance? The next session of my Desire Map Virtual Workshop kicks off on February 8th, 2016. Get clear on how you want to feel and reclaim your sense of balance. All the details live here: Desire Map Virtual Workshop