How does life get out of balance?
When was the last time you felt that things were just ‘out of balance’ in your life? Maybe work started to take over every waking moment. Maybe you stopped getting enough friend time or sleep. Maybe your budget felt out of whack. Maybe you recognized your eating habits were disrupted.
If these things happen to you or if you are feeling them right now, you are not alone. All of us feel off some of the time and others, a lot of the time.
This happens because our mind-body-spirit system is delicate and easily disrupted. We are designed (at a basic level) to eat a certain way, experience a certain quality of sleep, engage in meaningful social interaction, move our bodies routinely, and regularly restore calmness to our nervous system.
Unfortunately, many of us, I would venture to say all of us, experience times when we don’t maintain habits that allow our mind-body-spirit to feel balanced.
What happens when life gets out of balance?
Recently I was visiting a beach where a rope was strung between two trees and people were practicing tight-rope walking. The rope was fairly close to the ground so the consequences of falling were not a matter of life and death. I sat and watched various people try and cross the rope. Some could not keep their balance for even a step or two. They wobbled treacherously and fell off the side. Others were focused and steady and seemed to glide effortlessly across the rope.
Just like the tight-rope walkers, when things feel steady and balanced on the inside, we are able to glide almost effortlessly through life. However, when things feel off on the inside, life becomes so much harder. We wobble a lot, we put forth loads of effort, and we often fall a lot.
The most common mistake people make
The most common mistake people make, when life gets out of balance is ‘pushing through it! Picture the tight-rope walker who, during practice, wobbles and falls, each time becoming more frustrated. If the tight-rope walker becomes consumed by growing frustration, they will be distracted and never achieve the focus and steadiness needed to master the walk.
And this happens all the time! The more things fall apart. The more things go wrong. The more problems we face… the harder we push. We race around trying to fix everything, all the while building frustration with everything and everyone. Eventually, we snap.
However, just like a tight-rope walker who can relax their mind and nervous system and restore inner balance, which is much more effective, the same is true for us. When we learn how to regularly pause and restore inner calm and inner balance, we re-emerge with far greater effectiveness.
Why do we resist restoring balance?
Despite how obvious it may seem the answer is to restore balance in our lives, most of us resist the habits and practices that help us to do this. Perhaps we know what kind of food is good for our body, how much sleep would be helpful for us, how much exercise keeps us feeling healthy in body and mind, and so on. Many of us are aware of what needs to be done, but we still choose not to do the work.
Why do we resist doing the very things that would restore our lives to a sense of balance and make us more effective and happier?
We resist because we have developed a persistent habit of mind that tells us that if we pause to do these things, everything will get worse. We have developed an established habit of working harder and pushing harder, therefore we have a hard time stopping ourselves from mindlessly following this pattern. Our mind convinces us that stopping, pausing, and engaging in self-care is lazy and indulgent, rather than responsible. The problem is we believe these things that the mind tells us.
How to break that pattern and gain balance in your daily life?
To feel balanced and be effective in daily life, we need to stop listening to the false stories that the mind replays and begin listening to our higher knowing. This kind of listening requires pausing, reflecting, and building new habits. It requires that we regularly schedule time in our day to pause, get quiet, and reflect upon and plan for how we want to live.
Here is a simple, yet powerful way to get started:
Reflective Journaling. A great way to practice reflective journaling is to pose a reflective question at the top of the page and then write without stopping for a set period of time, such as 5 to 15min. A reflective question is one that allows you to look at some aspect of your life, leadership, or relationship from a stance of curiosity rather than judgment. Here are a few sample questions:
- LIFE: What is one thing I can do today to help restore a sense of balance and well-being to my life?
- LEADERSHIP: What impact do I truly want to have as a leader today? How might I fulfill this intention?
- LOVE: What is one way I can show the person/people in my life that mean the most to me that I value and appreciate them?
Even as you read the questions, notice how they make you feel. The questions are not meant to be harsh or to make you feel inadequate. Rather, a reflective question should feel like an invitation to enter the extraordinary recesses of your mind and heart. Time for personal reflection is not a luxury; it is the very practice that allows us to feel balanced and be effective in all facets of our life, leadership, and relationships.
If you would like to try this practice with more guidance, we have created 3 decks of question cards to help you generate powerful questions for this journaling practice. You can grab them here. Or if you would prefer to be led through the exploration, try a FREE two-week trial membership to Curiosity Crusaders, a global community that convenes regularly to engage in reflective practice.
Adina B. Tovell is Chief Curiosity Officer and CEO of Courage to be Curious, a personal development company. Adina is the founder of the Curiosity CrusadersTM global community that takes time each day to pause, reflect and connect. She also works with organizations to create Reflective Communities of Practice for Leaders.