An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
Just like Bambi, we learn how to become stable and steady over time, sometimes with the help of a guardian or friend.
As we grow up, we get increasingly used to having to make our own decisions in terms of how we allocate our time, effort, resources etc. What is the opportunity cost of doing one thing as opposed to another? Decision-making is so frequent in our lives, that we sometimes may need to take a step back and look at how balanced the situation actually is.
(Un)fortunately, we are not young enough to be told what to do by our guardians, parents, teachers and so on, and the responsibility to find the right balance in multiple departments of our lives, lies in our very own hands (or legs), which could be both daunting… but also liberating.
So how do we make decisions about different aspects of our lives to make sure we remain upright and steady, at least most of the time?
Here are a few examples that that some of you may be able to relate to.
HEALTHY vs. tasty
Starting with a lighter option (pun intended), in an increasingly health-conscious world, it can become tiresome looking through the Nutrition Facts on every. single. thing. Most of the time I do not even know what to look at apart from the calories per 100g, then try to find the actual weight of the pack, in order to calculate what I would actually be consuming. But now we are told to look at the sodium, saturated and unsaturated fats, sugars. Most things contain traces of nuts…
By the time I am done reading through and trying to calculate what proportion of my apparently-healthy granola bar is… healthy, I may have forgotten to think about the:
As life is too short, I have decided that there are too many tricks involved by these food marketers out there for me to spend too much time reading labels. Therefore, in order to find a balance between tasty and healthy food, I try to:
work vs. life
I have covered a lot about this in my other blog post about work and play. A lot of us in this day and age have decided to pursue a career, often backed by achieving personal and professional goals. These could be in terms of responsibilities, positions, salaries, professional networks, qualifications, etc.
Career progression can feel great. But there comes a point when the feelings of satisfaction can plateau and the excitement of the achievements can start to fade, which is when many of us may start looking for the next challenge. Although this could be great for personal development, there is a risk of this becoming an addictive and vicious cycle.
The last thing we would want is to look up from our desks after a long time and realise that we have missed out on spending time with our loved ones, our friends or even taking time for ourselves to enjoy spending time doing things that fulfill us on a regular basis, whether it is getting your hair done, going to the gym, to art galleries, concerts, photography courses… or even the pub!
On the other side of the coin, neglecting our careers (if we want or have/had one) while only spending time on our personal lives (sounds great, actually…) it could also become an issue a few years down the line – whether it is because of financing your lifestyle or feeding your confidence in yourself. Therefore, it is crucial to balance out the importance we put on work and life as two important life categories.
yourself vs. others
In terms of prioritising others versus yourself, my article on being good-selfish highlights the importance to address your own needs and giving yourself the attention, care and love to stay upright and steady – before you can give attention to others.
There is no practical reason (in my opinion), to give to charity while you starve yourself.
In terms of the need for others in our lives, my article on life hacks, covers how it is worth trying to be less needy and dependent on others in order to have a long-term life crisis.
But let us be honest, every time I am feeling low, the first thing I do is ask for help – whether it is my best friends-WhatsApp group or reaching out to my family, I give them a download of what is going on in my mind to get their opinion. And most of the time, I am glad I reached out.
I do need my support group to help me through life, but yes, we should not be completely dependent on other people to keep us upright either, as everyone has their own lives to get on with. Again, it is about finding the right balance between trusting our own views and decisions, as well as the opinions and advice from others (try to go to those who actually care about you).
thinking vs. not thinking
It is damaging and dangerous to overthink and to hold everything inside your head for too long. As a woman, apparently I am susceptible to thinking, analysing, reflecting, forecasting… or maybe it is just me!
We all have mini crises, and it is fine. No one benefits from beating ourselves over them and it is certainly not an indication of our mental strength.
Apart from seeking help from the right people as mentioned earlier, it is also worth training our brains to stop thinking from time to time. This could be done through mindfulness and trying to enjoy moments, rather than spending too much time thinking about the past and future.
now vs. future
I intentionally avoided mentioning the past. The past should just be put into a little invisible trunk in your head as it's in-existent, as long as you retain the lessons and conclusions from it.
As for the present and future, the bottom line is that in order to find the right balance in life, while it is important to have a bird’s-eye view of the future and have a general idea of where you see yourself in life, we should try not to stress about it.
Enjoying the moments, dealing with each day one at a time, trying to appreciate at least one good thing that you are either looking forward to that day, or have achieved that day – all of these little things can help us enjoy life a bit more and make every day count, as cliche as it sounds.
Here are some books that I found a) easy to read (for mindfulness-dummies like me), b) applicable to real life and c) useful when I needed to organise my thoughts:
in one sentence... why balance?
It is probably safe to assume that the core reason for us to try and balance things in life, is to protect ourselves, create invisible cushions to avoid unnecessary drama and set-backs, so that in case we fall, we can bounce back up without causing permanent damage.
verb (adverb), informal
To be in a heightened emotional state, such as that of fear or excitement.
What I learnt recently, is that even those who seem (and probably) are very emotionally strong, have moments, days, weeks or even longer periods of freaking out.
It’s in our nature to have a variety of good and bad emotions that come in and out of our minds, sometimes triggered by external factors (e.g. weather, changes in situations, other people’s behaviour, (un)fortunate events or things that happened too quickly for us to process), and other times internal factors (e.g. our mental or physical health, being tired, stressed from work or life).
For instance, people can freak out at their own weddings, even if they know deep down that they are marrying the right person, everything is organised and under control, everyone is happy. However somehow, on D-day, some people run away, don’t show up, or take a while before making it their way to the wedding… because they are freaking out. We’ve seen it in movies, but it’s apparently a thing.
Recently, I had a number of good things happening to me (after a loooong time), and instead of basking in joy, I freaked out. A good friend of mine reminded me that everything I mentioned to them at the time was actually: good. I just happened to be overwhelmed by it all and had to process a mixture of excitement + fear of losing it all.
Sometimes, it may also be the case that there are a mixture of types of emotions in your mind and the confusion and lack of control over understanding your own thoughts and being able to categorise them, results in… freaking out.
In my opinion, I suggest building a visual or a framework to help you pin-point the main causes of your freak out. Here are some examples of how we can use two emotions to monitor our mind in such situations:
1. BUYING A PROPERTY
Buying a new house = Excitement (of becoming a homeowner) + Fear (of affordability) + Lack of control (over all the organisation + paperwork)
Analysis: majority of the freak out is due to a positive emotion, and acknowledging this could help you feel better. You also have a clearer view of where to focus your actions and efforts e.g. spend an hour over the weekend mapping out all the bills, service providers and budget for them to make yourself feel more in control of the situation going forward.
Once you’ve done that, start enjoying the excitement of moving into a new home with all the fun of decorating it and making it your home.
2. new relationships
Getting into a new relationship = Excitement (of finding potential love) + Fear (of being hurt, losing independence)
Analysis: depending on how well you may have dealt with being hurt, or how good or bad your past relationships have been (if applicable), the value you put under that category for a new relationship could vary. The effect on laying out the factors behind you freaking out, could help with conversations with your new partner and can help them understand you and your actions better.
3. CHANGING JOBS
Changing jobs = Excitement (of a hopefully better salary, change of scene, better responsibilities) + Fear (of leaving existing friends and colleagues, leaving your comfort zone, not knowing what to expect, failure)
Analysis: we need to remember that in most cases, the main reason why you even considered moving jobs, is that there may be something(s) that is or aren’t quite right in your existing job. For instance you may be underpaid, overworked, underworked, lacking motivation, not feeling like you’re contributing, not being recognised, not having a great boss or team, or not fitting in, etc. If any of these are persistently in your mind over say, 12 months or more it may be a signal towards looking for a new job.
However, it’s probably a bad idea to move to another job that is equally bad or worse, consciously, just for the sake of leaving your current job.
Then comes the freak out on whether the new job is going to be good or not and worth making the move. My article on how to find out if you’re in the right job covers other more specific frameworks. But for the sake of this article, if your excitement level is reinforced by good signs from the new job, then you can make a more informed and calculated risk.
10 quick ways to stop freaking out
There are also times when we freak out, with no particular reason. Here are 10 quick ways to try to calm down in moments of freaking out or panic:
my secret life wheel
If you've made it all the way through this article, I have a gift for you...
I use this wheel to draw out where I think I am in my life at the moment, what areas may need some extra attention and hence be the reason behind a potential freak out.
Instructions: Rate yourself in terms of how good you feel about where you are in 8 key areas of your life between 0 – 10, 10 being the best and 0 the worst.
When you mark yourself out of 10 in each of these areas, you can quickly identify those where you need to focus your attention on in the near future i.e. anything that rates 0 – 6 on the scale. This is a visual way of diagnosing what’s happening in your life and mind, and what the root cause(s) of your freak outs may be.
I hope you found this article helpful and if so, you may find the ones below worth a read too. Enjoy!