As a working mother, finding balance is my constant daily struggle. Some days, I am more successful than others. I have certainly had moments as a counselor when I am looking at a client who fights this same battle of “never enough” and it feels very familiar; even ironic. I have come to expect this as a counselor. Those themes that are present in my own life are likely to be prevalent in my counseling relationships as well. Call it awareness. Call it chance. Call it divine intervention. All I know is that it keeps me in a continuous state of self-reflection and humility.
I associate the journey to find balance with the path to enlightenment. Both are more about growth than they are about reaching the end goal. Although the journey is never finished, there are some tools I use to cope with this perpetual state of imbalance that provide both comfort and confidence for me when I am tempted to beat myself up over my inability to maintain balance.
First, I accept that my life will never be balanced.
This could be relieving or discouraging, and it is often both. The word “balance” is quite subjective. What does balance actually look like and how will we know we have reached it? There are too many variables that exist in the universe, and the search for balance becomes just that- an endless and excruciating quest that shifts the focus from wanting to honor and value the various aspects in our lives to valuing balance itself over the important things that led us to seek balance in the first place. If you accepted that your life would never be balanced, how would that change your attitude, perceptions and expectations?
Second, I accept that I don’t want my life to be balanced.
It’s funny how we can idealize something because it sounds great, but when we get it, it isn’t really as wonderful as we thought it would be. Imagine a completely balanced life. For all its advantages, living a balanced life has disadvantages also. It takes away the Human Factor. Sometimes I like working on a project at the last minute or for hours at a time because it invigorates me and it fosters more creativity and ingenuity. Often times, I make a plan for the day that feels balanced, but then a relational need arises, and I choose to pursue the need over the balance. If I lived a completely balanced life, I would probably never write. Because let’s face it- there is always something more productive to do than writing. I would also have to say “No” to relational opportunities if they hindered my plans and shifted the balance in my day too significantly. And I would miss opportunities with my son because I want to be imbalanced in my time and energy when it comes to him. I want him to have A LOT of it. But it comes at a cost. And it’s worth it to me. What are the areas of your life where you want to be imbalanced?
Lastly, I have decided that being intentional is better than being balanced.
According to Webster’s dictionary, the word balanced means arranged in good proportions.
Webster’s dictionary defines the word intentional means done on purpose; deliberate.
That sounds more like a person who is making positive decisions about her time, energy, relationships, goals and life vision.
I don’t think I will ever be arranged in good proportions. I am too passionate and indulgent for that. But I can be more deliberate. Living intentionally is not easy. It involves pain, hard choices and a lot of discomfort. But I have found that when I am aware of my actions and behaviors and how they impact myself, others and the world, I feel more connected and fulfilled. Eventually, I feel more peace.
How would your day-to-day life change if you shifted your lens to being intentional instead of being balanced?
Give it a try.
Karin Fields, LMHC
Photograph courtesy of Pink Sherbert Photography, Flickr.