Finding Our Balance
What if we didn’t get it all done? Would our world fall apart? Would others think less of us? How would we view ourselves?
Sure, there are “must do’s” in life, like our showing up for work, going to the grocery store, and paying taxes. These, and other non-negotiables, are not what I’m referring to when I ask the above questions. Instead, I mean what if we didn’t check off every item on our "to do" list AND felt no guilt for not completing each task?
Perhaps you’re laid back, at ease with allowing what is to just be. I wish I had that natural grace. However, the truth is I strive to get it all done, eliminate every pile on my desk, respond to each email or text, cook a nutritious dinner, and then project as to what else I should do to be ready for the next day … often without realizing the impact it has on me.
Just rereading what I just wrote makes me feel exhausted. This causes me to wonder what the constant verbiage inside of my head—only meant to keep me “on track” and remind me what’s next—does to my adrenal system. Constantly pressuring ourselves to go, go, go is not good for our bodies or our minds.
As I’ve been spending more time this month looking within and examining the “why’s” behind my thoughts and actions, I’ve come to realize that I create much of my stress and unhappiness due to the high expectations I’ve placed on myself to get things done. Whether this involves completing an edit by a certain date, maintaining a healthy diet, meeting this months’ yoga challenge, or staying in touch with friends, I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to do. And sometimes in the process of my doing, I forget to be.
In no way am I suggesting we Zen out and spend our days contemplating the meaning of life (though there are moments when this sounds quite appealing). However, when we find ourselves stuck on the hamster wheel, unable to pause and appreciate the people and natural beauty around us, we may benefit from slowing down and releasing the need to complete everything on our list.
Perhaps I’m feeling this way because of the time of the year. I see January as a fresh start of sorts. After the Holidays, I was raring to go, get settled, find my routines, and figure out what I wanted to do to find balance. I believe I accomplished the first part, but I have yet to find the second.
Instead, my intent was on doing. These past few weeks have been spent on the multiple “final proofings” for my next book, The Dog Walkers. This last stage of publishing always unnerves me, as I’m terrified to miss typos or other errors. So, I obsess and am often unable to “rest”—or sleep soundly—until this phase is finished. Also, I’ve tuned into my eating habits and exercise routine, consciously shifting certain behaviors and practices. Again, more doing.
Mid-way through this month, it became evident that my doing was overriding everything else. Understanding that much of this was necessary—especially if I want to publish books and continue with this blog and other articles I’m responsible for writing—I also realized I was missing out on experiencing life. For me to authentically write, I must spend time in the present moment, observing the world around me, conscious of my feelings and responses to what is. That’s where the good stuff comes from.
I guess it all comes down to balance.
But how do we successfully juggle being and doing?
The numbers girl inside of me would be eternally grateful for a foolproof formula, one where I can carefully measure input for both … and be guaranteed a definite result. However, I understand this is a pipe dream. It is up to me to figure out my balance—not what works for another—but rather what is in harmony with me.
Balancing the Yin and the Yang, our being and the doing, is no easy feat. But it shouldn’t be a chore either. Perhaps it requires patience, presence, and understanding the intent behind our actions.
Wanting to discover a more aligned way to go about my days, I started to ask myself more questions.
What is behind my need to do? Do I have a compulsion to accomplish? Am I tackling my list so I can relax and spend time with those important to me? Or am I focusing on tasks to avoid feeling uncomfortable and inconvenient emotions inside of me?
After thinking about this, I concluded it’s easy to fixate on getting it all done. Sure, it’s nice to have a clean slate to allow room for new opportunities. Still, I suspect there are days when that’s not the driving force for my actions. Instead, I do to avoid being. Keeping my mind occupied on rote tasks and project prevents me from acknowledging and/or dealing with situations or emotions I’d prefer to ignore.
Regardless of what pulls me into constant action, it’s important that I pause, regroup, and become curious as to the why behind my behavior. Am I striving to complete something that is necessary, has a deadline, or simply must be done? Or am I eluding a responsibility, an opportunity for growth, a piece of myself that needs to be seen?
And now, as I begin to play with what balance looks like for me, I suspect it may take some time to figure it all out. No doubt I’ll stumble, spend too much time doing or being. Yet, instead of raising the bar and expecting myself to get it right immediately, I will allow for patience and grace. And who knows, maybe through this process of trial and error, I’ll alleviate some of the stress I carry, allowing for more ease and happiness as I discover how to hold both the Yin and the Yang of life.
Just one more step in the process of elevating, finding our higher selves …