Finding balance — physical and emotional — is a natural state of being at all life stages, but with age and responsibilities, it requires conscious attention
From our first steps, each memorable moment of our lives leads us to find our balance. As parents, we watch with bated breath as our child takes their first wobbly steps and then we applaud and carry on as though they just landed on the moon. We repeat our excitement when we gift them the big two-wheeler on their seventh birthday and then tirelessly run behind the bike, screaming, “You got this,” as the child struggles to stay upright.
Children throw themselves with wild abandonment into learning to walk or ride that bike. For them, balance is a physical sensation; you either have it, or keep trying until you get it.
If they fall, they do not go off sulking their disappointment away. Instead, they jump right back up and try again.
As we age, the concept of balance takes on a different importance. We are told that as we reach our later years, we must continue to work on balance to stave off the falls that could lead to a multitude of other health issues, i.e., broken hips and fractured wrists. Luckily, I am not of the falling age yet, but I have been struggling with balance nonetheless.
While practicing yoga, I tend to avoid the tree pose or any one-legged stance because inevitably, I can only hold the pose for about twenty seconds before falling to the side, windmilling my arms, fighting for recovery. But the harder I try to regain my balance, the more likely it is that I will fall — possibly hurting myself or at least my ego. To rectify this, I decided that I needed to make a mental change: I needed to think like a child. That meant I needed determination, repetition, no fear of falling, all the while repeating the mantra “I’ve got this.”
So today, after weeks of repetition, I was able to successfully hold a tree pose. What had changed?
With no one watching me, I was not afraid that I would fall and embarrass myself. I was not looking at other people and comparing myself to them. I was not afraid of the judgment that can be put upon me if I failed. Finally, I knew that I was ‘enough’ and was not concerned about feeling ‘less than’ in someone else’s eyes. The world felt steady so balance was achieved.
We are such a competitive species that we let other people’s opinions of us undermine our self-worth.
It can be a real challenge to ignore what others say about you because we want to feel liked, admired, looked up to. But the words and actions that accomplish this are also the words that can destroy us.
Having balance means so much more than merely finding core stability and strength. Balance is not just an inner ear thing; it centers around the mind. Learning the lessons from my tree pose, I now need to apply it to my life. But balance in life is much more challenging than balance in yoga. How can I find the time needed to dedicate myself to self-improvement? What other issues must I push aside to allow for the repetition of positive actions? How can I get over the fear of falling both physically and emotionally? Who is going to my person, screaming, “You got this!”
To tackle this daunting litany of questions, I started with the simple task of adding ‘me time’ to my daily calendar. Whether it was a walk, yoga, or learning to speak a foreign language, when I included this time into my daily plan, it made it harder to just skip it. It was now part of my day.
Next, I limited my time doing things that do not bring me joy. Yes, we have to clean, grocery shop, and pay bills, but I don’t have to connect with a friend that drains me of my energy. I also do not have to make obligatory phone calls when a text check-in will do.
Finally, despite being an independent, self-reliant woman who doesn’t want to rely on others to help me, the reality is, without outside assistance, none of us are likely to find what we are looking for. Fortunately, I have found my people. They are my tribe. There are only a few of them, but if it’s cheering me on for my accomplishments or supporting my failures, I can depend on them to have my back. In exchange, I am available 24/7 as their support and sounding board.
When I think about balance, I now think about the push and pull of life that can easily land you on your ass if you are not paying attention.
To avoid this, the key is to make a plan that will move us closer to the balance we seek — and stick with it. We are not children that can fly by the seat of our pants anymore and live life as if we have no responsibilities. But with a few lifestyle changes, we can find that sweet spot where the ground is steady, and we feel in control. In other words, we can find balance.
You may also enjoy reading How To Enhance Your Wellbeing Through Balance and Non-Negotiables, by Dena Argyropoulou