“How do you balance it all?” How many times have you heard this question and answered with false pride: “Well, I just _______ and _______; it’s hard but I manage it!” like we have figured out the magic formula for getting it all done while feeling, looking, and acting our best all the time. But in reality you think to yourself “I’m really not balancing everything.” If you were honest with yourself and with everyone else perhaps you would talk about how somethings actually are going pretty well, but in other areas of life you are just barely getting through the day. Or perhaps you are judging yourself so harshly for not being able to do everything up to standard that you are struggling with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and your relationships are suffering. I wonder where we came up with this idea that we have to have balance in the various areas of our lives. If you think about it, it’s really not even desirable to have balance – because that would suggest that we give equal attention to all the various aspects of life. Let’s play this out: We only have 100% to give. Let’s assume that we have 7 areas of life that are important to us to be doing “well” in: parenting, marriage/intimate relationships, social (friend, sibling, our parent relationships), physical and emotional health, spirituality/religion, and work (in or outside of the home), and managing our households (paying bills, cleaning, meal prep, etc.). If we want to give equal attention and energy to each area that would mean we would give 14.2% attention and energy to each area. Now THAT sounds good, doesn’t it? I’m sure if we would feel great about how we are managing things if we thought “well I know I’m only giving 14.2% of energy and time to my marriage, parenting, work, relationships, etc. but AT LEAST everything is getting equal attention!” No way! We wouldn’t even be able to take care of things (only paying 14.2% of our bills, or making 14.2% meals, only working 14.2% of the time) if we expected to have balance in all the areas of our lives. So, perhaps it would be healthier if we had realistic expectations for the season of life we are in: sometimes one area of life requires more of our attention than others and we have to be okay with the mess of not giving or being “100%” in the other areas. Seasons will change and so will our resources and we will be able to shift our attention and energy to various areas. What would be different about how you are doing life if you were more compassionate with yourself and realistic about the season of life you were in? Would you be able to let go of that elusive search for “balance” and be okay with some of the “messiness” of life?
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