Is "Balance" a Four-Letter Word?
I was recently leading a group and, as so often happened, the discussion turned to finding “balance.” The group included women in their 40s and 50s, from California to North Carolina, with very diverse backgrounds. In spite of our obvious differences, we could all relate. In our heads, we know what it takes to calm the chaos in life, having read and shared strategies for scheduling, organizing and putting ourselves at the top of our to-do lists. But still, we find it too difficult to commit to those stress-reducing principles.
During our discussion, one of the women said, “I don’t know if I want to be balanced. That sounds too boring and unfulfilling. If I live a more balanced life, doesn’t that mean that I won’t be growing by pushing myself out of my comfort zone?”
That brought a quick response from another frenzied member. “If I don’t get all these things done, I feel like I’m a failure. People are depending on me! I don’t want to disappoint them.”
I had never thought of “balance” that way before. Could she be right? Could some women view balance as something NOT to be desired? Is it a sign of laziness or complacency if we set priorities and say “no” to requests? Is being admired for being a superwoman more important than being rested and happy?
Here are some things I realized after that discussion, with some points for you to consider as you decide if leading a balanced life is something you fear or embrace.
Everyone is feeling the pressure to “perform” to be valued and admired by others. Because we have been brought up to think that we are measured by our productivity, and because it’s just our nature as women, we get lost in the frenzy and totally forget to take care of ourselves.
There is a tendency to be driven to make everything and everyone else around us more important. But is that pressure self-imposed? Do we really have to continue doing for people to love us?
Slowing down is a choice that you now have. You have been brought to this point in time when you can decide just how you want to spend your time. Remember the quote, “We all have the same 24 hours in a day. It is up to you how you choose to use yours.”
All of us have struggled with being “human doings” instead of “human beings.” We feel special only when we are praised for doing so much, so well.
Think about how it would feel to be admired and praised for being a “balanced woman.” What would it feel like for others to look at you in awe for how in control of your life you are?
Slowing down requires an intimacy with others. When you have more time with them, you have to be present. Are you afraid of that intimacy? Are you ready to spend the time with those who are most important to you, instead of being too busy to connect?
Slowing down also requires practice. It doesn’t come naturally or easily, but with a commitment, it can be done.
Susan Tolles is the founder of FlourishOver50.comhttp://forums.thirdage.com/threads/finding-balance.6339/"> Click here to comment on finding balance.