It may seem ironic that at times when we are working our hardest and giving our best, it still feels like we are treading water. An over-emphasis on doing, and on meeting our obligations, whilst validating that we are indeed still going (often frenetically), slowly start yielding less and less in terms of quality outcomes.
In fact, as this pattern continues, the gap between the inner and outer self widens. Physically and emotionally, we feel drained and on top of that, we lose that fire within, and a waning of the conviction that we are still able to make a difference.
As I look back, I am able to identify those times, that whenever I felt disconnected, filled with a sense of emptiness, it was because I was not paying attention to the ‘non-rational’ aspects of myself; the ‘sixth sense’ or gut feeling (what I like to refer to as our inner activist) that started out as a whisper and later became louder and louder.
In my busyness, I would put this soundtrack on mute, because it was an inconvenient truth: If I acknowledged to myself I was not doing ok, it would require me to engage beyond my intellect. It would ask me to slow down, connect to my physical and emotional (and spiritual self) and truly ask of me what is my deepest yearning and my truth at that time. The last time I continued to ignore this inner voice and wisdom of slowing down and finding balance, I was forced to do so by what I consider a stupid mishap. I literally fell, broke my elbow and needed major surgery. I literally felt like my world had fallen apart. I felt vulnerable as I did not have my work to hide behind. In this situation, my physical body reminded me that I am not invincible. Each day, for almost 3 months, I was confronted with the discomfort of having to deal with my thoughts; having to be honest about what it was that has landed me in that situation and also to make a commitment to creating greater balance in my life.
While the saying goes that when life deals you lemons make lemonade, I have to be honest that lemonade is not always that nice to swallow. However, despite some of the metaphorical slaps from life, you have the power to create balance for yourself and to walk a path of deeper connectedness to all aspects of you. Here are some of the ways I go about creating balance in my life:
Create a daily routine of self-care
Personally, I really struggle with routine, and I would do things as I feel I want to. It is for this reason that it is actually important to be firmer with yourself and to create a rhythm. This will anchor you and keep you centered in those times of busyness. Over time, I have realized a rhythm that works for me is waking up a bit earlier, doing some stretches, and doing meditations and journaling.
One of the things that go out of the window when I get so engrossed in doing is my eating habits. The impact of not eating what I know works for my body and my digestion system is that I end up with skin flare-ups. This is often our bodies letting us know or shouting at us to pay better attention. When travelling in particular, it is important to take along digestive teas, and ensure that the diet contains vegetables and healthier options. On my side, I have also learnt that eating specific times helps with a rhythm.
Physical exercise is really not fun for a lot of us, including myself. However, I have downloaded apps that remind me to move wherever I am. So, saying that I am traveling and cannot go to the gym is not an excuse. I also know that when I do some level of physical exercise (like 30 minutes a day), I feel more energized and my body feels happy that I have given it some attention.
Over the years I have found that when I am busy, I find it difficult to make time for the people in my life, whether it is family or even close friends. With hindsight and a bit more wisdom, I am learning (and am not perfect at it by any means) to consciously make time for building my personal community. Moving in and out of spaces where my heart is also nurtured, where there is laughter and where I explore who I am in relation to others. This is part of what creates a better balance for me.
Regularly finding spaces and instances of reflecting on the journey as it is happening is of utmost importance. I recommend to each of my coaching clients to get a journal and request that they journal in-between sessions, reflect on that and come to the sessions with questions, insights and whatever else is moving them.
Perhaps in closing, it is important to note that balance will not magically happen for anyone. It is a process of falling, picking yourself up, and learning more and more of what works for you. There is no ‘one size fits all’ as we are all very different. What I can say is that when there is a greater balance, flow is a natural outcome and that leads to many other positives. Wishing you happy balancing!