Saturday, October 31, 2009


Yesterday afternoon I attended a symposium at work, and our only task, aside from drinking wine and eating appetizers, was to discuss the concept of balance. It was interesting to hear the various ways people define balance and apply it to their lives, and I thought it would be a great topic to write about. As I share my perspective with you, I invite you to reflect on what balance means to you, and if you feel so moved, please share your thoughts.

Being in the field of psychology, the concept of balance is intriguing to me. It wasn’t until about four years ago that I started thinking about it on a much deeper level. I used to believe that balance was a state of steadiness where life felt good and all was well. I would exert a great deal of energy to get there, as if it were a destination, with hopes that once I did I’d be able to maintain that state from that point forward for the rest of my life! Need I tell you that didn’t work out so well? I learned that it was an idealistic but unrealistic goal, which set me up for failure and disappointment time and again.

Not too long ago I was taking a class in which the instructor blatantly stated, “Balance is an illusion.” I immediately had an aversive emotional reaction to his statement, and didn’t like one bit of what I was hearing. I stepped back and took inventory of my emotional defensiveness and realized that it was my resistance to the fact that his statement had some truth to it. The more I thought about it the more I could clearly see that balance wasn’t a destination but a continuous process that is comprised of the ebb and flow of life.

The very nature of balance is cyclical. You see this in nature, nations, society, cultures, families, and individuals. Life consists of ups and downs, rises and falls, successes and failures, peaks and degeneration, growth and deterioration, birth and death. There is constant movement in order to keep balance. Balance is not just the good stuff, and to me, that’s the illusion.

While teaching about the concept of balance in one of my classes I had everyone stand up and go into one of my favorite yoga asanas: tree pose. Tree is a balance pose, and when in it you become strikingly aware of the amount of movement that is involved with this apparently “steady” stance. At the symposium yesterday, one of my colleagues used the analogy of a waiter or waitress carrying a tray full of drinks. It’s not keeping your hand rigidly in one place under the tray that enables you to balance it, it is the constant movement of your fingers and replacement of your hand as the weight of the tray changes that allows for balance. The same applies in life. Balance, this illusion of steadiness, requires much fluidity and flexibility as we are presented with the positive and negative changes that accompany life.

So, just relax, go with the flow, and ride the wave of life., EXPERIENCING balance might be much easier than you originally thought!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

The World Can Wait a Minute

A few years ago I was sitting at a coffee shop when the man sitting across from me got up as if in a hurry, but then paused. He said aloud, “The world can wait a minute,” and then sat back down and enjoyed the rest of his cup of coffee. His words have stayed with me ever since. Whenever I feel hurried, stressed, or under pressure I remember what he said, and in a strange way it eases my mind and makes me feel better.

Last week for instance, I was feeling under the weather, but felt self-imposed pressure to get my blog written and posted. I had the choice of either accepting or stressing over the fact that it wasn’t going to get written that week. I decided that it was more important to tend to my health, and that the world could wait until the following week to read my blog.

Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to take a little break. Where might those six words come in handy in your life? Whatever the situation, it’s okay; the world will still be there when you decide to return.

Have a restful week,

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Be True to Yourself

What does it mean to be true to yourself? In what ways are you true to yourself? In what ways are you not? Can you be true to yourself without feeling guilty for doing so? Can you care for yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually without buying into the label that you’re being selfish? Is it possible to be true to yourself in a manner that isn’t at someone else’s expense?

Being true to yourself…

…entails being honest with yourself about how you feel.

...entails being honest with others about how you feel.

…is when you speak your truth and stand up for yourself.

…often times requires courage.

…is when you view your needs as important.

…means nurturing yourself.

…means that you take action in getting your needs met so that you can give to others from a place of fulfillment.

…sometimes entails being comfortable with the disapproval of others.

…requires that you take care of you because what you put out into the world stems from your well-being.

…involves honoring all of your emotions.

…means giving to and caring for others without depleting or losing yourself.

…is when you see yourself as a priority in your own life.

What would you add to the list? What are you going to do this week to make sure that you are true to yourself, and how might you encourage others to do the same?


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Detachment is Key

Have you ever gotten the vibe that someone doesn’t like you? What’s your reaction to that? How does it make you feel? Does it make you feel nervous, anxious, or uncomfortable? Does it make you feel angry, irritated, or bothered? How do you react? Do you try to go out of your way to win their approval, or do you send the “oh yeah, well I don’t like you, either!” vibe right back at them?

The truth is, not everyone is going to like you, and being okay with that is another option. And believe it or not, it’s a healthy option. You can’t control others’ perceptions, and the minute you try to you will undoubtedly end up frustrated and disappointed. Their reasons are their own which involve not only how they perceive you, but how they perceive themselves, and how they perceive themselves in relation to you.

Liking or disliking is more complex than just having positive or negative feelings toward another. It’s never just about the other person. It always includes one’s view of him/herself in comparison to the person being “sized up.” This is probably the rare occasion where the words “never” and “always” actually apply. As the perceiver, we simply can’t be removed from the basis of our perception. The good news is someone else’s perception of you doesn’t have to be your truth. Someone can have a negative perception of you without it ever affecting who you really are. It might help to remember that they have a right to their perception just as you do yours.

So, if you get the opportunity this week, let it be your challenge to get comfortable with someone not liking you. Detachment is key in personal growth. I think you’ll find it to be liberating.

Have a great week,