Finding Harmony Within
Tips and strategies to attain and maintain a balanced life from the inside out
by Jessica Pass, LMFT
We’ve all heard it said, “I’m out of balance” or “It’s all about balance”, but what does that mean? What does that even look like and better yet, how do you get there?
I’m the first one to attest to using these statements in both my personal life and professional career. I am always, always, in one way or another, whether it is with myself or someone else, thinking about balance. As I wrote in my last post, I tend to bounce back and forth between feeling overwhelmed and centered; I find my inner calm and have space between appointments, projects and commitments and then I overload, get overextended and saturate myself. The kicker for me is learning how to recognize these times in my life (while I am IN them, not just in retrospect) so that I can take action to remedy them and find the happy medium that my deepest self is craving.
Through writing, meditation and conversation I am better able to understand what gets in the way, what overcrowds my life, and what I need to either eliminate or increase (i.e. eliminate commitments or increase my time alone.) Each of these tasks helps to identify specifically what is getting in the way and where it might be coming from.
Let me detour here for just a second.
Knowing the “why” behind being out of balance is extremely important. We can focus on what we’re doing to ourselves all we want, but without getting our hands a little dirty and digging for the root of the cause we’re going to keep finding ourselves in the same position. To explain this a little further, it is my belief that there are reasons why we keep overcommitting. As an example, let’s use my habit of not being able to say “no” to someone or having a sense of obligation that causes guilt if I don’t follow through with something. If I take the time to analyze those feelings and my motives, I might uncover that I could be overcommitting because of my need to please others or in order to feel needed, wanted or valuable. Once I have determined the root cause of my behavior, I can address that instead of just coping with the symptoms.
Sometimes I find myself struggling to make decisions because I’m afraid of losing out. If I choose one thing then I can’t always have the other. For me, this can become the biggest reason I continue to say “yes” when I should say “no.” When in all reality, my need to not miss out on something comes from something much deeper into my past than it is really relevant to my present or future self. If I would acknowledge that more often, I believe I would find more satisfaction and success, without spreading myself too thin and making it nearly impossible to give 100% in each area.
Think of it like peeling back the layers of an onion. The outer layer is the feelings of exhaustion or anxiety when we have too much on our plates or have exaggerated expectations surrounding us. As the layers continue to get deeper and deeper towards the center, we recognize exactly what the outer layers are really protecting: our defenses.
Once we can recognize what our defenses are trying to protect, we can move forward with gaining a deeper understanding of our beliefs, fears, previous hurts, etc., and recognize them when they present themselves and lead to another unwarranted “yes.”
So here’s the pitfall: when we overcommit, get out of balance, lose our peace, or feel overwhelmed, anxious or exhausted, we run the risk of building up resentments towards others, feeling unnoticed or unimportant, getting burnt out and forgetting that we have the power to change what is going on.
It isn’t about others when we are out of balance, it is about us.
There is always room to reach out, ask for help, say “no,” take a mini-vacation (even just an afternoon at the park), find a babysitter, or do something for ourselves. Knowing when to honor ourselves is so important! Without it we cannot truly honor each other. Even as a parent or caregiver, we must first fill our own cups before we can giving of ourselves. So easy to say, so difficult to practice…so try to keep it simple and not overcomplicate it.
– Start small and just listen to yourself. From there everything else will follow.
– Take deep breaths to calm your nerves and center your mind
– Take inventory of yourself daily with pen and paper
– Be honest with what you are feeling about your day-to-day obligations and commitments
– Pay attention to your stress. It is communicating something very important
– Say “No” respectfully
– Give yourself grace
– Ask for help
Attuning to yourself is the biggest step towards inner balance and peace. Instead of ignoring what is going on inside, take a deeper look and listen. You will be amazed just how much freedom you find in allowing yourself to feel what it needs to, recognize what has been hiding and understand why your life gets out of balance too easily.
DEFINE’s Emotional Wellness Expert, Jessica Pass, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Instructor at DEFINE body&mind. She has a private practice in Houston, Texas, specializing with children, adolescents, individuals, couples and parents. Jessica’s approach incorporates mind-body integration, education and practical strategies to improve emotional wellness, emphasizing all aspects of who we are to live fully and thrive in our relationships.
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