Being alive, engaged and present in the times we are in is often painful. We are navigating circumstances that many of us don’t have any idea how to handle. Many of us have dipped back into old patterns at times; ones we thought we had banished long ago.
That’s what challenging times do to us. We revert to survival skills. Whether you consider yourself to be a survivalist in the vernacular, we all have survival modes. Ways of being that at one time served us and feel helpful even when they no longer serve or help. For example, one of my “survival skills,” I default to when times feel tough is being uber-independent. I don’t need help. I don’t need anyone or anything to help me get through the day. I am entirely self-sufficient. And while that can be a great temporary skill it also is isolating. It holds people at arms-length and it creates the story in my head that receiving help is somehow wrong.
When I catch myself telling my husband, especially, that “I am fine, everything is fine, I got it” and being very cool, those are usually some of my telltale signs that I have fallen into old habits. Let me be clear, being able to take care of yourself is invaluable. Pretending you don’t require support, help, or someone to make you dinner (or order takeout) every once in a while is a fallacy.
That’s part of being human. This is something I have been dealing with the last couple of weeks acutely. Behaviors and old coping skills I thought I had left behind have popped back into my life. And I spent about 10 days really trying to find my balance again.
Upon reflection I realize that part of what led me astray, and has so many times before, is the idea that balance is a destination; as if balance is an experience you achieve and then stay there.
Balance is much like homeostasis in the body. It may look like a static state and yet there are billions of actions at any one moment that keep us there. And my emotional, physical and spiritual well-being, much like yours, works the same way. It’s an ongoing, moment-to-moment series of choices, skills, habits that keep us operating either at an optimum level or on the other end, way down in the gutter.
We frequently throw the word balance around and in this context we really should use it as a verb, it’s not a noun. It’s a verb because balance is experienced in the doing, in the being and it’s perpetually open to the whims of life that put it in flux. How we roll with it, don’t roll with it, determine greatly whether we are balancing or not.
I had been doing fairly well through the fall and I realize now looking back I lost my focus. I let some of my previously non-negotiable habits slide. That happens when life is chaotic. That happens when our environment continues to reflect to us discord, upset, inequity and problems far bigger than a single one of us can solve alone.
For me it goes something like this, I miss a day of meditation and that’s OK. The wheels are still on the bus.
Then I stay up too late watching TV. I miss breakfast, then lunch. I feel overly stressed and instead of reaching for my yoga mat, I reach for a drink, and then another. Soon within a few days, I started feeling not so great and those old patterns of soothing that work, but only in the short term, resurfaced: eating too much sugar, watching too much Netflix, going to bed a little too late, eating irregularly, falling off the exercise wagon.
Before long, as in about 10 days, you feel like utter crap and you ask yourself: What is wrong with me? Why do I feel so bad? And you want to find one answer, one thing to blame it on but the truth is it’s a million little and big decisions we make every single day that lead us toward the space of a homeostasis that feels good or one that feels bad.
Meaning I can statically feel like crap; and I know just the right “wrong” behaviors to engage in to create that. And I can fairly consistently feel well and I know just the right, but sometimes, hard behaviors to choose to allow that to happen.
Neither state is all good or all bad but they have consequences.
Balancing ourselves is a nearly second by second experience of life. I will never arrive there and be able to let it ride. But especially in the times we are in, it will require my care. Lowi was sharing about being for love and joy and I will tell you that I have a hard time being those things when I am not caring for myself. As I have shared in the past and my husband reminds me nearly every day, I feel life deeply. I have learned I can’t sidestep that. I have to be in it and part of that means eating well, breathing well, sleeping well, hydrating well… you get the picture. Without those staples the wheels start to shake and soon they’ve come off and I end up saying things like, “I just want to stay in bed, eat Twizzlers and watch Netflix.” I am not against these things but it’s not how I want to live my life. Plus I don’t have a TV in my bedroom so that’s sort of a problem too.
Here’s to balancing ourselves toward feeling well. Here’s to creating the best canvas for our life to hold joy and love.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G