couple on bench

Toxic Relationships to Avoid

Fortunately, there’s been a lot of scientific research into healthy and happy relationships over the past few decades that have allowed people in the know to build their mental strength against toxic relationships and toxic relationship behaviors.

1. Relationships run by one person.

A relationship is toxic when one person is running it. Period.

When you feel out of control or a little lost it can be tempting to look for someone willing to take charge of your life for you, just to alleviate the pressure. But before you do consider this: If you put a collar around your own neck and hand the leash to someone else, you’ll have no say about where they lead you in life.

2.  Relationships that are supposed to “complete” you.

Our culture, which is predicated on fantasies of romantic love, often suggests that once you meet “The One,” you will be lifted out of your misery or boredom and elevated into a state of perpetual wholeness and bliss.

So, it’s easy to believe that it’s your partner’s job to make you feel joyful and whole. But the truth is, while a healthy relationship can certainly bring joy, it’s not your partner’s job to fill in your empty voids. That’s your job and yours alone, and until you accept full responsibility for your emptiness, pain, or boredom, problems will inevitably ensue in the relationship.

The longing for completion that you feel inside comes from being out of touch with who you are. Nobody else in this world can make you happy. It’s something you have to do on your own. And you have to create your own happiness first before you can share it with someone else.

3.  Relationships that rely on codependency.

When your actions and thoughts revolve around another person to the complete disregard of your own needs, that’s codependency, and it’s toxic. When you set a precedent that someone else is responsible for how you feel at all times (and vice versa), then you both will develop codependent tendencies.  When someone begins to get upset, all personal needs go out the window because it’s now your responsibility to make one another feel better.

The biggest problem of developing these codependent tendencies is that they breed resentment.

4. Relationships based on idealistic expectations.

You don’t love and appreciate someone because they’re perfect, you love and appreciate them in spite of the fact that they are not.  “Perfection” is a deadly fantasy – something none of us will ever be. So beware of your tendency to “fix” someone when they’re NOT broken. They are perfectly imperfect, just the way they should be.

Bottom line: Any relationship that’s real will not be perfect, but if you’re willing to work at it and open up, it could be everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

5. Relationships where past blame is used to justify present righteousness.

When someone you’re in a relationship with continues to blame you for your past mistakes, your relationship is toxic.

When you use someone else’s past wrongdoings in order to try and justify your own present righteousness, it’s a lose-lose situation. Not only are you dodging the current (valid) issue itself, but you’re digging up guilt and bitterness from the past to manipulate the other person into feeling wrong in the present.

6.  Relationships built on daily lies.

Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and when trust is broken it takes time and willingness on the part of both people to repair it and heal. If you’re covering up your tracks in any way, it’s only a matter of time before the truth is revealed and trust in the relationship is broken.

7.  Relationships that lack forgiveness and the willingness to rebuild trust.

Failing to understand that broken trust CAN be repaired leads to a grim future.

When trust is broken, which happens in nearly every long-term relationship at some point, it’s essential to understand that it can be repaired, provided both people are willing to do the hard work of self-growth.

8.  Relationships in which passive aggression trumps communication.

Passive aggressive behavior takes many forms but can generally be described as a non-verbal aggression that manifests in negative behavior. Instead of openly expressing how they feel, someone makes subtle, annoying gestures directed at you. Instead of saying what’s actually upsetting you, you find small and petty ways to take jabs at someone until they pay attention and get upset.

9.  Relationships governed by emotional blackmail.

Emotional blackmail is when someone applies an emotional penalty against you when you don’t do exactly what they want. The key condition here is that you change your behavior, against your will, as a result of the emotional blackmail. In other words, absent the emotional blackmail you would do differently, but you fear the penalty so you give in. This is extremely toxic behavior.

The solution, as with passive aggression, is simply better communication.

10   Relationships that are always put on the back burner.

Failing to carve out quality time for important relationships is one of the most toxic relationship mistakes of them all, and yet it often goes unnoticed… at least for a while… until everything starts falling apart.

The truth is, relationships are like any other living entity: they require dedicated time in order to survive and thrive. Make time every week to focus only on those you care about, and time every day to pour even just a few minutes of quality interaction into your closest relationships.

Five Steps to End a Toxic Relationship

Five Steps to End a Toxic Relationship

So how do we get out of toxic relationships?
In this pared-down version of Theresa Borchard’s steps to ending toxic relationships, she shows how it is possible to leave the pain and live a freer life. The ability to ask and answer questions honestly provides the truth we need in order to make changes that benefit us.

  1. Step out of denial (review past negative behaviors) – Are you energized or drained after spending time with X? Do you want to spend time with X or do you feel like you have to? Do you feel sorry for X? Do you go to X looking for a response that you never get? Do you come away consistently disappointed by X’s comments and behavior? Are you giving way more to the relationship than X? Do you even like X?
  2. Identify the perks (discover how you feel in the present) – All relationships, even toxic ones, have hidden benefits. Or why would you stay in them? So identify the perks. Determine what, specifically, you are getting from this relationship. Does X make you feel attractive and sexy? Does helping X with her kids even though it exhausts you relieve your guilt in some twisted way because you feel like your life is easier than hers? Even though X doesn’t treat you well, does she remind you of your verbally abusive mom, and therefore bring you a (toxic) comfort level?
  3. Fill the hole (practice selected present hedonism) – Find alternative sources of peace and wholeness – nourish yourself. In other words, do things that make you feel better and in ways so that you don’t have to rely on others. For instance, revisit that project you put on the back burner, learn meditation or yoga, call friends, and remind yourself that you won’t feel this way (sad, angry, upset) forever.
  4. Surround yourself with positive people (be pro-social) – Hopefully these folks are working on their boundaries as hard as you are; they are enmeshed in their fair share of toxic relationships and therefore become somewhat toxic themselves. The stuff is contagious. Be smart with whom you choose to hang out.
  5. Heal the shame (replace past negative with a bright future positive) – Work toward healing the part of yourself that may be attracting toxic relationships. This may mean exploring past toxic relationships, forgiving yourself for the part you played and realizing that you deserve the right kind of love and attention in order to create a brighter future for yourself.

Let go of the negative past and give love permission to enter your life

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.”
by Maya Angelou.

Resources:
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/15/you-deplete-me-10-steps… by By THERESE J. BORCHARD , www.Worldof Psychology.com

Toxic relationships

The Relationship Quandry

As human beings, we all have the basic need to relate to other people. Granted, there are the very few who don’t, but usually, that type of behavior is an indicator of something quite serious. On the whole, we interact with others and hopefully, those interactions produce good results for all concerned.

In this month’s newsletter, we’ll be taking a look at a type of relationship that often nets results we’d rather not have in our lives. These relationships are known as Toxic Relationships and you’ll be surprised at how my of us are either in a toxic relationship or are ourselves toxic.

The Faces of Toxic Relationships

While we tend to group toxic relationships into those within couples, toxic relationships actually have many faces. We see them in our personal lives with parents, children, siblings and in friendships, as well as in the workplace between supervisors and employees along with coworkers. You probably know the toxic person … You do something good or nice for someone believing or hoping that they’ll return the kindness. You loan money or your car, take care of their kids while they go away – things like that. The toxic person doesn’t pay you back, returns the car damaged or dirty and empty of gas and makes no offers to fix or fill it, and even asks you to watch their kids again without ever offering to watch yours.

Now you’re feeling hurt and angry at both the offender and yourself. You’re brought down. You’ve been “used”. We hint with leading statements, offering a way of escape to the offender only to have our efforts ignored or unnoticed.

Who Is The Toxic Person?

We can think of toxic people as people who consistently behave in ways that make others feel devalued, inadequate, angry, frustrated, or guilty. In contrast, “nourishing” people are the polar opposite, making others feel valued, capable, loved, respected, and appreciated.

In his Self-Assessment Quiz, Karl Albrecht provides an opportunity for us to examine our own behaviors to determine if we are toxic ourselves. Our behaviors, whether we are aware of them or not, clearly tell others the type of person we are, provided they are aware of what toxicity looks like themselves.

If you’re interested in discovering your Toxic-Nourishing balance, check out his quiz at this link:
http://karlalbrecht.com/downloads/TNScale-Albrecht.pdf

Why Do We Seek Out Toxic Relationships?

The tendency to unconsciously seek out toxic relationships frequently starts with past negative experiences when we are children and might carry on throughout our lives. They can become so deeply ingrained in the way we think and feel that we don’t realize we are steeped in toxicity until, or hopefully when, someone else points it out. The toxic person in our lives (and maybe it’s us), is generally concerned about themselves and their needs; the relationship is classic codependent. The worse form is when that other is your partner or mate, supposedly there forever!

Five Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship

In their book, The Time Cure, Rosemary K.M. Sword and Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., list five signs to help identify if you’re in a toxic relationship.

  1. It seems like you can’t do anything right – The other person constantly puts you down as not good enough. They mock your personality and you feel ashamed most of the time. You only feel pardoned when you take on the traits of the person doing the condemning or judging.
  2. Everything is about them and never about you – You have feelings too, but the other person won’t hear them. You’re unable to have a two-sided conversation where your opinion is heard, considered, and respected. Instead of acknowledging your feelings, they battle with you until they get the last word.
  3. You find yourself unable to enjoy good moments with this person – Every day brings another challenge. It seems as though they are always raising gripes about you. Their attempt to control your behavior is an attempt to control your happiness.
  4. You’re uncomfortable being yourself around that person – You don’t feel free to speak your mind. You have to put on a different face just to be accepted by that person. You realize you don’t even recognize yourself anymore.
  5. You’re not allowed to grow and change – Whenever you aim to grow and improve yourself, the other person responds with mockery and disbelief. There is no encouragement or support for your efforts. Instead, they keep you stuck in old judgments insisting that you will never be any different than you are now.
    If you’re experiencing even just one of these signs, check-in with yourself to see if the relationship is doing more damage than good.
Can We Really Tackle Procrastination

Can We Really Tackle Procrastination

In order to move away from procrastination and move into being more of what we really want to be, we have to understand our emotions. Because, if we can turn our aversions (that trigger procrastination) into a source of motivation, we may be able to actually reach our stars.

Procrastination has been defined as the voluntary delay of any action that we realize we ought to pursue now. It can manifest it in any number of ways: work, exercise, cleaning the toilet or sending a birthday card. Even though it can be something folks joke about, to those who live with it, the reality is anything but funny.

Procrastinators, it’s been discovered, tend to harbor self-limiting beliefs, negative self-talk, and may often deal with depression and anxiety; yielding to impulses more readily than other people.

There’s A Link Between Procrastination, Impulsivity and Mood!

Thank goodness for research! Dr. Fuschia Sirois, Researcher and Author, observes: “It’s not just about being driven purely by pleasure-seeking but about avoiding negative emotions.”

Often procrastinators have a negative inner dialogue that is demeaning to themselves. Internal comments like, “I’m stupid” or “If I don’t do this right everything else I do is pointless.” Psychologist Roy F. Baumeister of Florida State University and his collaborators have demonstrated that negative emotions diminish self-control. Anxiety undermines diets as well as a smokers’ efforts to quit. All of our “survival techniques”, like eating a quart of ice cream after a breakup, are attempts at deflecting negative feelings. It turns out distraction is a great way to circumvent these feelings.

Although you might think you procrastinate for no reason at all, your dawdling may be a subconscious move to self-affirm: to check in with those things that shape your identity – your values and passions.

I have found it very heartening to learn that procrastination is much deeper than a bad habit that slows me down. I now understand there is a definite psychological thrust to it and that enables me to heal and move forward.

Some Tips That Might Help

Here are some tips I picked up from a lovely guide I found to help people like me (and maybe like you, too). While the bulk of the work is from the inside out, these little tips can help to keep you focused and provide a way to get more done instead of “wandering away from your task”.

1. If you’re a techie type and love apps for your phone, check out some of these that help you stay focused on what you have to do:

  • Rescue Time
  • Noisli (for those bothered by outside noises)
  • Remember the Milk (if you keep reminders running around in your head)
  • Time Warp (to get you back on track when your fingers do the walking to games)
    There are myriad others, just don’t get distracted by the shopping page. 🙂

2. Create a checklist: This is one of my faves and something I’ve done for ages. It helps me get stuff done.

3. Pomodoro Method: Use a timer and set it for 25 minutes (or whatever is needed) to accomplish a specific task. When the timer goes off, take a break. Then reset and go again.

4. Hide your phone. This one really bugs some of the people in my world, but it works for me because I distract easily and every time the thing dings I stop what I’m doing to see what’s happening. It doesn’t make for a productive workday. I leave my phone in another room and, if I have important stuff to do, I put it on airplane mode. The trick is to take it off airplane mode when I’m finished … I’m still working on that.

5. Eat the Frog. There’s a book by that name. Anyway, eating the frog is doing the tough stuff first to get it out of the way. Now, you may not like to eat frogs and prefer to do the little things first. Okay. Whatever, just do something.

6. Write in a diary. Sure, it’s old fashioned, but it really works if you use it to write down your tasks list and your reason for doing the task. When you feel like checking out, take a few minutes to review your diary – it can give you the inspiration to keep going.

7. Here’s the most important one in my opinion: Forgive Yourself. Take yourself off the guilt hook by acknowledging you’re a procrastinator and then forgive yourself for it. Studies actually show that actively forgiving yourself for procrastination leads to less frequent procrastination behaviors in the future. So be kind to yourself and let go of the past. After all, you can’t change the past, but you can impact your future.

Procrastination

Are you Really a Sloth or Is Something Else Going On

Are you a procrastinator? Do you find all kinds of reasons to put off dealing with your health issues, getting active, losing weight? Yes, that too is procrastination. Let’s take a look at why we procrastinate and what we can do to help ourselves.

Is Procrastination A Bad Habit?

Well, actually, no – it isn’t. At least not from a scientific point of view. There actually is a science of procrastination and here’s what we know about it: Procrastination starts in the limbic system, which is known by many scientists as the monkey brain, the lizard brain, or the reptilian brain. It’s that primal part of our brain that’s in charge of fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing up, and you guessed it – sex. That’s about the extent of the reptile brain function and it’s allowed us to react to a threat immediately and without engaging any other thinking part of the brain, thus allowing us to survive as a species for millennia. It’s a great thing!

However, we aren’t faced with the same kinds of threats our ancestors encountered and our predators are pretty well contained, so the function of this “survival instinct” has refocused and ends up keeping us in lockdown (to preserve our lives) rather than helping us reach our goals and dreams.

You Know What I’m Talking About, Right?

Author Steven Pressfield relates to this feeling of being held back as “the resistance.” It’s the voice in the back of our head telling us to be careful, go slow, compromise, back off … and it gets stronger the closer we get to a breakthrough or to the truth of what we really want. It appears lizards don’t like change very much, neither do they like risk or achievement.

So, Why Procrastinate?

Turns out that even though there aren’t the kinds of threats our ancient ancestors had to confront in order to survive, our brains still have the same fear circuit they had. Now, instead of being terrified by a saber-toothed tiger, our bodies respond to the modern terrors we face, like the fear of public speaking, fear of failure, fear of judgment, or fear of rejection. The trigger is different, but the response is the same. Our subconscious minds can’t discern between what’s real and what is imagined.

Here’s what happens. Work piles up so we look for a way to master and control our environment in order to alleviate anxiety. Procrastination is a way our brilliant brain deals with overwhelm and the fear of negative emotions. Rather than feeling the negative emotions, we find a way to make ourselves feel better by avoiding the negative emotions that are tied to our fears. So, it’s really fear that triggers procrastination.

I clean. What do you do? Play computer games? Clear your inbox? Binge-watch your favorite series?
Stop beating yourself up and understand you can actually take control of procrastination and change your life.

advise-answer

One Way to Make a Change

Over the course of the many years I’ve studied human behavior and worked with people to address and heal issues in life, I have learned from many different masters. One of them, whom I admire and continue to learn from, is Byron Katie. Her methodology is called simply, “The Work” and I have shared below some this information with you. If you care to take it further, by all means check out The Work of Byron Katie.

Based on one of Byron Katie’s worksheets, below is a very effective method to help deal with thoughts that create feelings that can potentially lead to issues that cause problems in your life.

Notice

Who or what upsets you? Why? Recall a specific situation.
To begin, relax and be still. Travel in your mind to a specific situation where you were angry, hurt, sad, or disappointed with someone. Witness the situation. Be there now. Notice, name, and feel the emotion you were experiencing at the time. Find the reason you were upset.

Write

Capture your stressful thoughts on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet (available on Byron Katie’s site, The Work of Byron Katie) using short, simple sentences.
Staying anchored in the situation, at a specific moment in time, write down your responses to the questions on the Worksheet, using short, simple sentences. Write without censoring yourself. Allow yourself to be as judgmental, childish, and petty as you were in that moment. This is an opportunity to discover the cause of your stress and emotions in that moment.

In the next section you will be asked to consider the following Four Questions …

The Four Questions

Q1. Is it true?

Q2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

Q3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

Q4. Who would you be without that thought?

Question

Isolate one thought. Ask the four questions. Allow the genuine answers to arise.
To begin, isolate a statement for inquiry. Now apply the four questions. Begin by repeating the original statement, then ask yourself each question. This Work is a meditation practice. It’s like diving into yourself. Contemplate the questions, one at a time. Drop down into the depths of yourself, listen, and wait. The answer will meet your question.

Turn It Around

Turn the thought around. Is the opposite as true as or truer than the original thought?
To do the turnarounds, find opposites of the original statement on your Worksheet. Often a statement can be turned around to the self, to the other, and to the opposite. Not every statement has as many as three turnarounds. Some may have just one or two, and others may have more than three. Some turnarounds may not make any sense to you. Don’t force these.

You can find more worksheets and learning at this site: https://thework.com/instruction-the-work-byron-katie/

depression

Depression …. Everything’s Dark

How Did I Get Here?

It took me a long time to figure out that the dark, lonely, constant in my life was really depression. I thought I was just under a lot of stress (which I was) and that it would pass. I’d have good days, then days when I literally felt like I was fighting my way up from the bottom of the sea.

I was fortunate in that I figured out that a change in diet and a consistent exercise regimen helped significantly. Then I involved myself in a number of years of personal growth programs to fight my way back. And, I did. Without drugs.

Do Drugs Help?

According to research done by Dr. Irving Kirsch, and explored in his book, The Emperor’s New Drugs, a lot of what we know about depression is wrong. He says that not only did Big Pharma invent the idea of a brain imbalance that causes depression and is fixed with a drug, but antidepressants only have a placebo effect. Dr. Kirsch also explains that the relapse rate for people on meds is much higher than for people who undergo psychotherapy.

So, if it isn’t a brain imbalance that causes depression, what is it?

According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (author, Gut and Psychology Syndrome) and Dr. David Perlmutter, (author, Brain Maker), there are three major causes of depression.

1. Painful Life Situations

When life is very painful, depression is almost guaranteed. Situational depression is normal. Life events can cause great heartbreak, grief and feelings of helplessness. These feelings need to be felt with much compassion, and then released out of the body, rather than being numbed with meds.
Rather than suppressing extremely painful feelings, learn to lovingly manage and release the feelings from life situations such as the following:

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Loss of a job
  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, or fire
  • Marital and parental challenges
  • Child abuse
  • Violent situations such as rape, beatings, or theft
  • War

It’s important and necessary to grieve and compassionately embrace feelings of heartbreak, grief, and helplessness rather than suppress those feelings with drugs. Suppressing the feelings can cause them to get stuck in the body, and stuck feelings can cause illness.
I have used some of the following therapies with excellent results and would highly recommend them to release trauma energy that is “stuck” in the body. They help to release and reset the body’s energy without using drugs.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), TRE (Trauma Release Exercises), SE (Somatic Experiencing), or EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), in order to release and reset the “stuck” traumatic energy.

2. Physical Causes From The Gut

There is some literature (see Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and Brain Maker by Dr. David Perlmutter) indicating that certain imbalances in gut flora (leaky gut, for example) are linked to depression.
A gut imbalance and the resulting gut permeability could be caused by sugar, wheat, gluten, and processed chemical-laden foods, or by a lack of macro- and micronutrients from clean organic foods. Other factors include, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and lack of sunshine.
There is an abundance of information on the impact of diet and lifestyle on the gut that causes mental and emotional health issues. Be sure to check out natural ways of healing the gut. There is also a lot of information available on the gut-brain connection that is worth investigating. I’ll take a closer look at this connection in a future newsletter

3. Self-abandonment

Medication covers over the feelings that let you know you are abandoning yourself – emotionally, physically, financially, organizationally, spiritually, or relationally.
There are many ways you might have learned to abandon yourself, such as:

  • Ignoring your feelings, rather than being present in your body
  • Judging and shaming yourself
  • Turning to various addictions as a way of numbing yourself out and avoiding responsibility for learning from and lovingly managing your feelings
  • Making others responsible for your feelings of worth and safety
  • Eating badly
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of sleep
  • Procrastination
  • Overspending
  • Under-spending (even when money is available)
  • Being consistently late, disorganized, cluttered
  • Lack of a spiritual practice
  • Giving yourself up to others
  • Not speaking up for yourself
  • Using anger, blame, judgment, and/or violence to try to control others

This is certainly not a complete list. Anything we do that results in feeling depressed — as well as feeling anxious or shamed — may be a form of self-abandonment.

Healing Depression

Thousands of people have healed their clinical depression by learning to love themselves rather than continuing to abandon themselves. People heal their depression when they:

  • Get the psychotherapy and trauma therapy they need.
  • Learn to take loving responsibility for their feelings.
  • Learn to connect with a spiritual source of love and comfort to help them manage the pain of life.
  • Eat cleanly, exercise, and get enough sleep.
  • Learn to lovingly manage stress.
  • Learn to take loving care of themselves in their relationships.

There is no quick fix for depression, but there is a way to heal!

As a professional in the field of health and wellness – mental, emotional and physical – I am fortunate to have access to some of the most cutting edge information available. It is both my responsibility and my pleasure to be able to bring some of what I learn to you in this newsletter. I want to acknowledge those whose wisdom, learning, and willingness to share with people like me spreads to people like you.

balance

Some thoughts on how to bring balance into your life

One Example of Finding Balance

In your own life, bringing balance can translate to a variety of things. For instance, if you haven’t been working out, your longterm goal might be to get into shape; but perhaps it would be more useful to say to yourself that you are going to try to find a way to live that allows you to maintain your physical well-being. Short term, you might think about starting slowly, in manageable ways that you can work into your life and gradually, as you get stronger, expand. Instead of saying that you’re going to the gym everyday this week (which might be unrealistic and also leave you so sore and overworked that you won’t go back for months; and if you don’t go, you’ll beat up on yourself and that will be the end of any potential sense of balance), think about what you can realistically expect of yourself and attempt to figure out how you can actually get yourself to follow through.

For instance, it might be more realistic to start with a 30 minute walk two times this week. Or even, if it’s not too far away, simply walk to the gym and back. Yes, really! Once you see how you’re feeling, then you can set up another goal – but it needs to be one that you can accomplish and fit into your schedule and your lifestyle. The same is true for any other goal, whether it’s to lose weight, change careers, find a life partner, start a long-delayed project…really, anything you want to do.

Balance Includes Failures, Too.

Remember that both accomplishments and failures are part of balance. Most of us have plenty of both already in our lives, but we may not always pay equal attention to both. If you are someone who focuses on your failures, try to notice small moments of success. See what that feels like. See if you can figure out what you’re afraid of, why you have to focus on the negative instead of the positive. But don’t beat up on yourself if you can’t stay there. It’s normal to fall out of that awareness back into more familiar thoughts. Just go back to the positive when you can. That’s balance.

The same is of course true if you always focus on your successes. It’s great to be proud of yourself!! But maybe try for a moment or two to pay attention to any failures you may have had in the last couple of days. You don’t need to stay there long. Just recognizing that they’re there will help you be more balanced!

Whether you’re heading back to work or school, sending your kids off to a new adventure, changing jobs, getting married or divorced, moving to a new city, or just living life as usual, remember that you are always in transition. The trick to living a balanced life is, (to quote from Mindy Bacharach), to always keep in mind that “Balance is the process of holding something(s) steady during change.

 

Built on Balance

Built on Balance

Back in the ’90s when I was training for a bodybuilding competition, I came across a book written by an all-natural female competitor who was a title-holder in the US and Canada. The name of the book was “Built on Balance” and in it the writer talked about balance in workouts, food, and mental attitude. That was well over 25 years ago now – but the advice is more true today than ever.

While checking the trends in health and wellness for 2019, the overwhelming flow is toward achieving more balance in our lives – especially in our food and exercise.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it seems the frenetic race toward certain diets is dying down and people are beginning to get a grip on the truth that moderation is really key. In my work I deal with people who have struggled endlessly with food issues. They’ve tried every diet in the book and own every book on dieting; they have a gym membership and work out three or four times a week militantly, yet they’re stuck. What’s the problem?

In my opinion, most of it boils down to a lack of balance.

Transitioning From One Season to Another

As I mentioned earlier, we’re fast approaching that season of change again as summer gives way to fall. It’s interesting that during seasonal changes, particularly spring to summer and summer to fall (that would be June and September) we tend to be particularly susceptible to feeling off balance. It seems there’s always more to do than there are hours in the day during these transitional times.

And, it’s not just moms getting kids back into the rhythm of school. More and more we’re hearing of not only women but men as well who are trying to balance career and family – it’s really refreshing to hear men talk about this issue. However; women seem to have a more challenging time of it, especially if they’re juggling kids, career, marriage and life in general. Where does one find the time for exercise, preparing balanced meals, leisure, friends, and visiting family? Nevermind a holiday!

Trying Google

If you check out Google for ways to balance life, you’ll find more than 332 million entries. Obviously, a lot of people are looking for balance in their lives. So, what caused the imbalance and how do you go from imbalance to balance?

There are a lot of answers to that question, including cultural and environmental ones that lead to fears about the world we live in and anxieties about taking care of ourselves and our loved ones in the here and now and in the future. There are also plenty of personal answers, having to do with self-esteem, expections, and complex wishes to please someone else, prove ourselves to them (or to ourselves), and sometimes to surpass someone else.

But, Here’s the Thing …

When you read the articles Google presents you with, you’ll find they miss a vital point. And, here’s the thing – finding balance is a lifetime project. It is ongoing. It is not a finite goal at the end of which you will have a peaceful, calm and meaningful life. Balance is a way of living. It is a process.

We are about to experience the Fall Equinox, that time where there’s equal light and dark, the balance between day and night. It’s marked on the calendar as one or two days, ie September 21/22, but in fact, the equinox is a very quick moment in time when everything is in balance then, in just a few short seconds, it’s passed and the balance has tipped.

So, rather than trying to find that place where you’re in a constant state of perceived balance, maybe a better tact would be figuring out how to navigate the transition times, kind of like “going with the flow”.

That’s what I specialize in and I’m here when you’re ready to talk.