Balance. You’ve heard it in every therapy session. You’ve read it in every book. You’ve listened to every friend and relative talk about it. It is probably the most difficult state-of-being to achieve and maintain.
I’ve personally experienced a run of “bad luck” with work and professional issues. I usually find myself working in excess of 55 hours a week, taking work home and checking emails at all hours of the night. And although I tell anyone who will listen that I crave a life of balance between work/family/friends/play, my actions speak otherwise. We all recognize there is truth in the saying “actions speak louder than words.”
If you took a good hard look at your own lifestyle, would you be able to declare a balanced life? With close examination of your daily actions, you may discover that you proclaim you are committed to beating your addiction at all costs, but what do your actions communicate?
When we are out of balance, we feel out of control and resort to old habits, including our “compulsion of choice.” And in what seems like a nanosecond, all the work to achieve sobriety and tranquility can disappear. We find ourselves resorting to former, familiar and self-destructive habits.
Before your life balance completely disappears, consider these 3 ideas. They can assist you in finding serenity and quieting the noise in your mind.
1. Silence is Golden
For many of us, just sitting with our own thoughts is distressing and causes anxiety. Self-reflection requires us to face some tough and uncomfortable beliefs. It is so much easier to keep busy, ignore your feelings and live life at 90 miles an hour. However, it doesn’t work in the long run.
In a moment of quiet, we often judge ourselves without compassion. If we are not self-aware, our internal conversation is comprised of destructive words and phrases which we would never use on others.
One method to learning the calmness of silence is meditation. Engaging in meditation results in decreased stress, reduced anxiety, increased focus and provides a sense of inner peace. It is okay to be skeptical of meditation and silent reflection, but it is worth every moment of your time to give it a try.
2. Perspective: Would You Care a Year from Now?
In the chaos of our daily routine, it is so easy to lose perspective. It is simply too easy to respond to emails at midnight, check social media, watch a movie or text a friend. But what message is this sending to others? The world is full of people who regret pushing “send” on an email that was sent with good intentions, but misconstrued on the receiving end. More importantly, a month from now, will it even matter if you answered that email or posted that tweet in the middle of the night?
In your heart of hearts, what truly matters and what actions give you regret? Set your priorities and do not let the small stuff veer you off the road of recovery.
3. “No” is an Acceptable Word
Many addicts can trace the beginning of their addiction back to a need to impress others, to be accepted by family members or, worse yet, low self-esteem. You may be the type of person who is a “pleaser” and when you could not make everyone happy (no one can), you internalized the blame and dealt with your emotions by turning to an abusive substance. Clearly, for a long time, a healthy balanced life has eluded you.
The “Burnt Toast” effect is the philosophy that everyone else comes before you. Consequently, you are the person who always takes the piece of “burnt toast” because you don’t deserve the best. A life of pleasing others is a life without balance, a life without a strong foundation and a life poorly lived.
Just know that “no” is not a dirty word. Setting limits and boundaries and giving yourself permission to take care of your own needs is not only important, it is absolutely necessary for a successful recovery.
Balance is incredibly difficult to attain and experiencing physical, mental and spiritual well-being only occurs through practice and patience. Life is a balancing act for all of us and it is especially crucial to the success of sobriety.