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How’s Your Life Balance?

What does a “balanced” life mean to you? How close do you come to experiencing that on a regular basis?  What is your response when you find yourself in a state of unbalance?

First, let me share my personal biases with you.  Paradoxically, I believe that:

1. We are capable of being much more than we are, and

2. Almost all of us are doing too much, too fast.

Also, although I am as prone as the next person to romantic nostalgia for an imagined time in the far past that I neither actually experienced nor can return to, I have come to believe very deeply that “things” are the best they have ever been.  Calamity, disaster, poverty, trauma, and perceived scarcity notwithstanding, I believe that, on the whole, more people have more consciousness to think the big questions and to form their own preferences than ever before.

So, I have for more than a decade now found myself out of synch with many of my peers.  I absolutely struggle with balance, especially since commitments and needs between self, family, work, community, and internal and external, are in constant flux.  Yet I am deeply committed to finding my own path to success, one in which outer success enhances rather than negates my personal and interpersonal depth and satisfaction.

I find myself continually surprised at how so very many people pay homage to this concept while acting in direct opposition to it. Most will praise a life of balance, talk about the changes they long to make, and protest feeling overwhelmed by the many demands on their time and resources… Yet the very suggestion that doing less might provide relief is scoffed at.  Whatever the cost to our bodies, our families, or our conscious attention, being busy appears to be a badge of honor.

I think many people, myself included,  use being busy as a substitute for clear intentionality and strength of character.  I may have trouble saying no, especially if you press me, but I can be “too busy.”  My friend may consistently be unwilling to make time to connect with me, but expects no change in our intimacy; I should understand she’s “busy”.

Too often I catch myself repeating this pattern: I overcommit.  I procrastinate and choose lower-energy  distractions in order to avoid feeling how uncomfortable I am.  I undertake some different project, which pulls me away from the task-list that got me feeling overwhelmed.  I usually “wake-up” in the middle of this new set of tasks, accepting what I am doing.  I make a distinction here between acknowledging a pattern, which is when you see what you are doing at least superficially, but continue doing it; and accepting a pattern, which brings you into the present and allows you to make a different choice.

So it is that I found myself leisurely exploring new hikes and campsites in the Seeley-Swan Valley this past week.  For me, connecting in nature is one of my greatest pleasures.  I’ve put a lot of thought and choice into creating the life I am living now — one of work I adore, proximity to wilderness, and built-in “bumpers” – such as regular retreat time – that keep me from straying too far from my chosen path.   So as I was energized and soothed by  my experience of the woods, I could also laugh at myself.  I choose an area with no cell-phone reception and primitive campgrounds… but I brought my cell-phone, computer, and task list.

I didn’t touch them for 4 days…  and I am quite sure the world, both broadly and within my personal sphere of influence, did just fine.  More importantly, I know without doubt that my refreshed, clear-headed, re-centered self is a greater asset to all my endeavors than anything I could have accomplished by staying attached to a state of overwhelm and burnout and uncentered need-to-do-ness.

If you can’t do it from a place of Being, if you can’t even imagine doing it from a state of Being, stop doing it.

So balance is good, success is good, achievement is good, Being is good, retreat is good, getting what you want is good… but what if you are locked into a long list of should’s and have-to’s that don’t feel good and no matter what I say, you are going to tell me you can’t do less: you already feel that you’re dropping half the balls. How do you get from there to here?

The Soul Spark Coach’s Top 5 Tips for Getting From Choosing Too-Busy to Choosing Balance

1. Question. Is what you believe you need to do true?  How long have you been acting on the belief that doing more, getting more education or promotions or money, will make you feel whole?  All these things can be worthwhile but none of them, in fact no doing, will allow your experience to be peaceful, calm, centered, and content.  Check in with your beliefs.  Find out what they are.  Question them.  Ask yourself Dr. Phil’s famous question: how’s that working for ya?

2. Pause. If you are overwhelmed, sick, exhausted, or constantly in crisis, you must start practicing rest.  Stop.  Practice self-care.  Nobody seems to like to hear this one.  If you go deeply into your reasons why you “can’t” pause, you often find irrational but deeply held feelings that you will die, your world will collapse, or your loved ones will leave you, should you stop what you are doing and start practicing how to be differently.  It’s not true.  It’s not true.  It’s not true.  False beliefs and attachments will crack open and release energy you are starving for.

3. Radical Commitment to Self.  What do you think of when you contemplate a “radical commitment to Self”?  Do you go straight to selfish?  Do you take this key mystical concept and slap it onto your bosses’, or your spouse’s, to-do list, proving to yourself that there is no way you can come from your center?  Challenge yourself to go deeper.  Once connected to your center, you have unlimited, infinite, creative juice and potential.  Compared to this, is it really such a gift to insist on trying to create from a disimpowered, distorted, mask-self? You can find your center and create your life.  And it does take a radical commitment to Self with a capital S: to your sacred self.

4. Surrender. Realize that when you are faced with challenges, you are not being picked on.  You are creating, or attracting, circumstances that “force” you into upgrading.  Most of us don’t upgrade without a prompt — when everything is great, we coast.  Look deeper than your first reaction to what you need to do.  Surrender to your deeper knowing.  Why is this challenge in your life right now. What would you have surrendered if you no longer experienced this pattern, belief, or emotion in your life?

5. First Things First. When you do move into action, take care of the Most Important thing first.  Most important is NOT most urgent.  Most important is not something that encompasses a list of 60 things.  Most important to do in this moment is always doable, if you are also in this moment.  Your clarity around your personal values + your awareness of your center, or Being, or connection to Spirit = your accuracy in determining Most Important.

What beliefs and practices deeply nourish the awesome, intelligent, warm-hearted soul that YOU are?

Act on them.

You must find the sacred within to be able to see it clearly without.

P.S.  Did you read all the way to here??  You rock!!  Please comment, I love feedback and I would love to connect with you.


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2 Comments to How’s Your Life Balance?

  1. Spirit's Gravatar Spirit
    July 26, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Yup. Read all the way to there. You rock too!

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