Pursuing balance is a much bigger deal than most people seem to realize. As human beings, we seek and crave balance. When we’re out of balance, we’re just not happy. We sense this unhappiness and we may try to remedy our feelings in such a way that we actually push ourselves further out of balance, and the problem becomes worse when we had expected and hoped that it would improve.
One area where we see the concept of balance playing out is through the idea of physical homeostasis. Our bodies are constantly working to maintain the delicate balance of all the functions that make us work on a physical level. They’re all interrelated, and when one thing is out of balance in our bodies, it affects the whole system. When our bodies are not in equilibrium, we can not work as effectively. If we’re unable to address those physical imbalances, we can actually die.
You can extend this concept beyond the physical and into all the other aspects of who we are as people. The concept of balance shows up in all key areas of our personhood. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally we need stability; evenness. So when your emotions, your work, your health, your relationships feel like they’re falling apart, it is high time to address this crucial concept of balance.
Here’s just one simple example:
Let’s say I’ve built up a very unhealthy sleep imbalance due to insomnia. Because I’m so sleep deprived, I might start to feel a bit depressed. My ability to control my anger may be affected. This impacts on my relationships with family, friends and my significant other. My work suffers because I’m not able to concentrate. The physical impact is deepened because I’m eating sugary and fatty foods to try to wake myself up.
You can easily see how from one imbalance, many other areas of my life are impacted and if the imbalance is not addressed, this simple lack of sleep actually has the potential to devastate my life!
So you can see, we need to be seeking a sort of homeostasis across all aspects of our lives because where we’re out of balance in any one area, we can see the impact across all areas. When any area is out of balance, it impacts on you as a whole.
For some strange reason, when people start getting warning signs that something is going wrong in their lives, they tend to want to add more. They push themselves harder, they do crazier things, to address that feeling that something is not right. We might even find ourselves in dangerous and increasingly self-damaging habits like self-medicating with drugs or alcohol or food or sex or any number of other extreme behaviours.
This is when we begin to feel we’ve really spun out of control. Things start to feel like they’re beyond fixing, it is all just too much. We begin to feel hopeless in the way that someone facing a huge mess (think Hoarders) may feel hopeless. Where do I start? How do I fix this? It’s too huge a problem! I don’t know where the beginning or the end is.
If you are in that place, it’s not time to add more or push harder. It’s time to begin to pull back. Focus on balancing your most basic needs. Quieten yourself. Be honest with yourself. Go back to basics. You have to do this so you can find balance again. Buck the pressure to add more and look harder for whatever it is that you feel is missing. You already have it; you just need the quiet peacefulness of balance to remember it and anchor it back into your life again.
When you’re out of control, it’s time to pare your life back to the simplest necessities. Plan a retreat for yourself (an in-home retreat is fine! You don’t have to go anywhere) in which you focus on taking care of your most simple and basic needs.
- Eat simple, wholesome foods.
- Drink water.
- Exercise gently.
- Work consciously, intentionally and not too much (but do work; it’s part of the balance).
- Make love.
- Brush your teeth and shower.
- Relax your pace.
- Look after yourself.
- Take out all the unnecessary things for just a while until you find yourself again.
And then what?
When you’re anchored back into yourself again, continue your life with more awareness. Add things back in, if you really want to, but whenever you feel you’re losing that balance, pull back again. As long as you have the basics covered you will be okay.
Now, I do realise this is simplistic, but it’s so important. I see too many people desperately trying to figure out how to be happy and they’re just making themselves more and more miserable by looking in all the wrong places. Going back to basics is the way to find balance. Once you find your balance, you will find hope again. Going back to basics will set you free!