Is balance even possible in life?
The question has been asked a million times or more, and for the most part, I think we’ve decided that it’s not attainable, even as we continue to crave it.
Somewhere along the line, work/life balance started to mean “having it all,” which IMO quickly turned into “doing it all.”
Over the years, I’ve developed a new perspective on balance and I want to share it with you.
When I initially think of balance, I get an image in my mind of everything being steady and even, fitting everything in. It’s a holding pattern where everything is where I want it to be. When I imagine balance in this way, it appeals to my inner perfectionist. After all, she LOVES to think that if she just does things well enough, everything will be great. It’s up to her to make it happen.
But that’s not really how balance works, is it? Pressuring ourselves to get everything just right and keep it there doesn’t exactly bring the sense of calm the we imagine balance will deliver, does it?
So I tried letting go of thinking about balance, and instead became curious about what my yoga practice has taught me about it.
Let’s take Tree Pose, for instance (pictured above).
I find my gazing point. I root down through my standing foot. I find a perch for my other foot, and land in the steadiness of my breath. My body experiences moments of steadiness, but mainly, it’s riding the waves of the challenge. Wobbles come and I respond to them. I teeter and totter, all the while breathing steadily and relaxing my face.
I could reach for a variation of tree pose that’s beyond my current capacity. I could strive and try to prove that I have what it takes. When I reach too far with something to prove, I fall immediately. I get frustrated. I tense up for the next attempt…and I fall again. I feel overwhelmed and incapable. I might start to hold my breath and hold myself to a higher standard of perfection. Pass or fail. Sink or swim. I’ve got to make it happen.
In my 15 years teaching yoga, it never fails. We take ourselves very seriously when it comes to balancing poses.
On the other hand, I could choose a variation that’s at the edge of my comfort zone rather than completely outside it. When the step forward I choose is small enough, I feel eager and am able to maintain a positive attitude. I’m alert and present because I’m embracing a challenge, but I’m not overwhelmed because I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.
Balance is something my body works for by searching for centre. The more grounded I feel and the more I can be present with the shakes and wobbles, the more balanced I feel. The more I practice balancing my inner experience through breath, releasing unnecessary tension, and accepting the moment as it is, the more balanced I end up being in the pose.
When I practice calming my body and my mind while challenging myself to do something new, I’m building my capacity to do hard things without feeling overwhelmed or panicked.
What might that look like in life, then?
In my experience…
Life feels balanced when our commitments match our capacity and express our values.
Life feels balanced when we drop the judgment towards ourselves for not having the capacity to “do it all.”
Life feels balanced when your needs are being met, and you have room for your desires too.
What if balance isn’t about sticking the landing?
What if it’s not about being more organized or disciplined or in control?
What if it’s not about making things just so and keeping them that way, at all costs?
What if balance is about cultivating the capacity to be with the ebbs and flows and be responsive to them, rather than reactive?
What if it’s about matching your commitments to your capacity, while honouring your values?
What if it’s about learning how to balance your nervous system and taking the time you need to recover from things that take a lot out of you?
Imagine you could feel balanced on the inside, even in the midst of all the competing priorities asking for your attention. You deserve that, and I’m here to help. Book your free Boundary Tune-Up coaching call with me today.
Ready to find the definition of balance that works for your life? Check out my upcoming group coaching program, Boundary Queen.