The Balancing Act
By Ronnie Biemans, Dec 16 2016 06:30PM
“The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.” - Gordon B. Hinckley
In the midst of our endless pursuit of what’s next, as we lean in to life, we find ourselves pushing toward accomplishment of some sort or another, barely taking time to appreciate what is, the good and the bad. The striving can be a source of focus or a source of distraction depending on what is happening in our lives at a given moment in time. Can we find a balance that allows us to fully participate in striving and effort yet also permits us to dwell in and appreciate the here and now? Regardless of our age or what we strive for, the search for balance is challenging. Balance is defined as “the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling, a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.” Enjoying all that life has to offer while addressing life’s challenges and moving through each life stage is indeed a balancing act.
LIFE: Finding balance while journeying through life’s stages
Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development is one of the best-known theories of personality in psychology. Erikson believed that personality develops in a series of stages. His theory describes the impact of social experience across the whole lifespan. The formation of identity is something that begins in childhood and becomes particularly important during adolescence, but it is a process that continues throughout life. Our personal identity gives each of us a cohesive sense of self that endures and continues to grow as we age. In addition to establishing individual identity, Erikson also believed that a sense of competence motivates actions. Each stage in Erikson's theory is concerned with becoming competent in an area of life. If the stage is handled well, the person will feel a sense of mastery. In each stage, Erikson believed people take on a developmental challenge that serves as a turning point. During these times, the potential for personal growth is high.
As teens and young adults we strive to answer the questions: Who am I? What can I be? We strive to self-actualize, establish our unique selves and, find our life’s work. We also seek to answer Can I love? We establish relationships, friendships and perhaps find a romantic partner. Along this journey, some of us embark on a slow train, moving haltingly, with trepidation and uncertainty whilst others of us hop on a fast train for a seemingly, directed and purposeful trip to adulthood and accomplishment. Once people have established their identities, in adolescence and young adulthood, they become ready to make long-term commitments to others. They become capable of forming intimate, reciprocal relationships (e.g. through close friendships or marriage) and willingly make the sacrifices and compromises that such relationships require. In middle adulthood we move to answer the question: Can I make my life count?? We move towards finding socially-valued work and establishing and guiding the next generation. We find productivity and creativity. Simply having or wanting children does not in and of itself achieve what we search for at this stage. The adult stage of generativity has broad application to family, relationships, work, and society. In our senior years, whether we have found wisdom or crave the fountain of youth, we seek to answer the question: Have I led a good and successful life? We assess whether we have lead a successful, meaningful life.
As previously mentioned, implicit in the concept of balance is the notion that two different things are true at once. We need to work and we need to play. We need to give, to strive, to participate, and we need to replenish, to rest. We need excitement and we need calm. As we move through each life stage, each of us is prone to lose or maintain balance in our own way. To find and maintain balance requires awareness and action. No matter your age or life stage with mindfulness, reflective practice, resource identification and action anyone can develop an approach to daily living that promotes harmony and equilibrium across the seven dimensions of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical
As we move through adolescence into adulthood, establishing ourselves, forming love relationships and in some instances, becoming parents, we can find ways to nurture ourselves creating the ‘oxygen” or life energy needed to create harmonious stability or balance. In the words of Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn, taken from their book Everyday Blessings:
“While we may all be born miraculous beings, without proper nurturing, our genius may be smothered and snuffed out for lack of oxygen. The oxygen that feeds our true nature is found in stillness, attention, love, sovereignty, and community. The challenge of mindful parenting is to find ways to nurture our children and ourselves, to remain true to the quest, the hero’s journey that is human life lived in awareness, across our entire life span, and so to grow into what we all are and can become for each other, for ourselves, and for the world.”
Everyday Blessings by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Ready or Not Here Life Comes by Mel Levine
The Family Life Cycle by Elizabeth A. Carter and Monica McGoldrick
About the Author:
Informed by over 25 years of professional training and work experience as well as her many years of meditation and yoga practice, Ronnie Biemans, M.A., L.C.P.C., is guided by a core philosophy to focus on strengths, not deficits or pathology. By discovering, restoring and optimizing each person’s unique ability to thrive and meet the demands, of today’s fast-paced, stressful world, those who have encountered physical and emotional health challenges can discover ways to improve their lives and well being. Operating from her home office and in other community settings, Ronnie provides guidance and support to individuals, families and groups seeking to live healthy, balanced lives.