Do you like reading about work/life balance? It seems to pop up everywhere. Do you find that you are able to score a good work/life balance that is truly effective in the ways that you would want? I love reading about it, BUT…I often feel like there is a piece missing…one that can take the whole balance thing to a new level!! 🙂
You see, no matter how much you try to strike a balance, it’s possible that a well-planned day (or well-planned decade) could get a wrench thrown into it at any moment 🙂 Right? In fact, it’s nearly a guarantee that it will happen. That’s just the nature of life! No matter how carefully hours and days are prioritized, no matter how much you try to control your day and time to have a nice balance, well…children get sick, relationships get complicated, money comes and goes, homes get really messy, family members may have special needs, health is never guaranteed, job demands can vary, and life can be so very fragile. So then what happens to the work/life balance? Is everything then “off-balance” until things fall back into your desired schedule?!?
Well, I have found a way to have a sense of balance EVEN WHEN crazy things come along. It works so well that it really, truly has changed my life c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y. It’s one of the best things I can pass on to you.
Instead of trying to control time and schedules and manage hours and days, I choose to…
By this, I mean – instead of basing my balance on the circumstances outside of myself, I manage the way I react to things (internally). I manage the amount of energy I burn over something.
This was revolutionary to me when I learned it from my mentor:
You only have a certain amount of energy each day, so you need to use it carefully.
Reacting negatively to things burns up energy very, very fast. Makes sense, right? It’s called a short fuse. Too much of a short fuse and your creativity and spirituality will be zapped. Keep it up some more and your body will be so deficient in energy that your body won’t even be able to operate optimally.
And, consider this: just because your day is planned out and you have X amount of hours for this and that, you could still feel unbalanced. Balance is not external. Case in point: you could be sitting on a bench in the park on a gorgeous day and STILL feel like a frazzled mess.
SO…how?? How do you manage your energy? This is what works for me:
1. PAY ATTENTION TO SMALL REACTIONS.
Little, little things add up during the day and contribute to draining your energy (which makes you feel irritable, stressed, and unbalanced). I’m talking about all those little negative reactions to things. Stuff like delays, parking tickets, nothing to wear, a messy house, messy kids, traffic, etc. I used to be so wound up over “my poor life” and “my crazy schedule” or whatever, that little things were very much a burden. But even those reactions to little things were draining me. I was barely getting by. I remember feeling like, “I could barely take one thing more.” So, again, pay attention to the small reactions. Start practicing there. Master those, and a huge, huge burden will be lifted. You can then free up some energy to face the bigger things with more strength, less stress, etc.
2. FIND YOUR MOTIVATION.
It takes DESIRE to turn things around and actually CHANGE the way you would normally react to things. Change is a very big deal. But it’s oh so possible (and so worth it I can’t even tell you).
Some motivations that worked for me:
-Motivation #1: Wanting to be able to teach my kids one day how to live…instead of teaching them how to CRACK over every little thing. Ugh. Cause honestly, that is how I was living back then. That is what I would have been teaching my kids back then, if I had them. I decided I wanted to be better than that.
-Motivation #2: Wanting to send good energy into the world. It’s hard to send good energy into the world if you yourself are barely getting by…and if you are so starved for good energy yourself that you really don’t have any to share. I call this survival mode. I was in survival mode for YEARS, friends. YEARS. Most of my entire adult life. I felt like there was really nothing for me to give (and quite frankly, there wasn’t). My energy was just so drained – because of my lack in skills in responding to the crap hand I was being dealt.
-Motivation #3: Healing my physical body. Before I learned to manage my energy, my physical body was not well. I had drained my energy so bad that my body was barely getting by. My moods were all over the place. My hormones were probably screwed up. I was on the brink of cracking – at all times. And, I was infertile. So there was that…and realizing that my own actions were affecting me on a physical level.
-Motivation #4: Wanting to be a better wife/woman/human being. My first husband at the time was not doing well – and the pain directed towards me was more than I could bear. But I began to learn that if I was being mistreated – it was because he was suffering – and that playing the victim role in response to him was a choice! So, out of love, I decided that I wanted to learn how to react to him in a better way. This required that I learn to manage my energy. Oh my.
OK, after you’re paying attention to your reactions and also thinking about your own motivation to change…here’s the next step I have found to work:
3. BE STILL.
Just seriously be still for even a SECOND when something irritable or negative goes down.
That gives you a second to take a breath and prepare your next move. It slows down that knee jerk reaction – that mode that says, “I have to be mad and full of anger because well – this is maddening and I feel justified.” That kind of thing is what happens when we are acting as victims to our circumstances. But what I’m trying to teach you here is that you don’t have to respond in that way if you don’t want to. You can be your own agent here and respond in a higher way, one that does not suck you dry.
4. PURSUE SOMETHING BETTER.
In the moment of agony or pain, irritation or anger – the way to begin dissolving it and UPROOTING IT (not just masking it or running from it!!!) is to focus your brain, your thoughts, and your heart on something better. For example:
-If you are feeling crappy about your body – maybe focus on being grateful that you have legs. And eyes. And hair. And that you have the ability to heal and live.
-If your spouse just cheated on you – focus on forgiveness and compassion for another human being who is not doing too well right now (this can be done even if the marriage is ending). Focus on the freedom & empowerment that is available to you, if you do this.
-If you did something stupid or if you failed at something and you’re having a hard time feeling good about yourself, be grateful for the growth that you can have, the wisdom that you’ll develop, and the compassion that you can now have for others who have also made mistakes.
-If you aren’t able to have a child – focus on being grateful for the relationships in your life that ARE wonderful. Be glad that you can have a purpose in other ways.
-If you feel you don’t have a purpose – well, have hope that one will come to you.
-If you forgot your umbrella on a rainy day, be grateful for the opportunity to practice being ok with the rain on your face, be grateful for the life rain brings the city, and the cleansing it offers our sidewalks 🙂 🙂
Sometimes it takes a little creativity, but there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS something good you can pursue, no matter what your circumstance.
This process has worked for me time and time again. I have found it to be literally FAIL PROOF in EVERY circumstance I have faced in the last 5 years or so. Sometimes it takes me a little longer to make that shift into pursuing something better. But, I know that the minute I’ll do it, miracles will happen. And what ever pain or irritation I was experiencing will melt away.
What I love most about managing your energy is..it’s all in the palm of your hand!!! You don’t have to rely on people, schedules, spouses, hours, trains, projects, children, to do lists, cleanliness, bosses, approval, success, traffic, etc. for things to go well for you during the day and for your day to feel “balanced”. Yep, you can manage your energy even when you have a crappy job. Even when you get home late at night and have to cook and clean the house. Even when you don’t have enough time in the day or enough money in the bank. And do I dare say – even when your marriage might be ending. Even when your spouse is addicted to porn. Even when health problems arise. Even if you’re facing infertility.
Pain, agony, irritation, anger, etc. have such a beautiful place in this world. I actually consider them GIFTS to our souls. Do not discount your pain. Do not run and hide from it or dismiss it without doing these steps. That will not solve anything. Instead, lean into it. Be grateful for it. Decide you’ll let it help you to progress. Learning to transform the pain is NECESSARY in order for us to feel freedom, to feel redemption, to feel progress, to feel triumphant. We cannot learn and grow without it. So – I know this sounds crazy but honor your pain. HONOR the opportunity that it can give you to become something more. HONOR it for the nudge and reminder that it is – it literally pricks our souls to let us know that something is not right in our lives; something needs to be addressed; something needs to be improved. It is in this process – the management of our energy and the pursuit of something better – that we become better people and we can begin to change ourselves, our families, and the world for the better.
OK, that’s enough out of me. 🙂 But I couldn’t help but add my perspective to the work/life balance conversation. I hope so much that this might resonate with some of you and help you in your life, as it has done thousands of times over for me.
As always, any comments welcome. I love the discussions here!