The Fifth Area of Change was Discovering Balance
How Did Bob Bring Balance To His Life?
My brain and heart dream up commitments my body can’t keep! In the past, I provided care to sick or elderly friends and family members for many years. I took care of my mother for 12 years and my grandmother for another 10 years. For me this proved to be exceptionally challenging. Many times, I depleted my “sanity reserve bank account” and fell into self-destructive patterns while providing exceedingly loving and compassionate care to everyone else!
My thinking patterns became very distorted—I loved others so completely that I would do anything for them, but when it came to me, I wished God had made me a robot so that I would have NO needs. Having needs was inconvenient. If I was supposed to be an “infinite helping machine,” then why did God make me with needs? I finally realized that I had over-commitment to others and under-commitment to me. I saw the effect of this pattern on my life.
One of the great joys and blessings in life is being able to share our talents and gifts with our larger community—as volunteers. Again, for me, this area has time and again caused me problems. I want to make a difference in my spiritual group, dietetic community, neighborhood, and the world at large—and my diaries have shown me the harmful effects of what happens when I get out of balance. I become compulsive, cranky, controlling, reactive, depressed, and physically, mentally, and emotionally ill.
In 1985 I went to outpatient alcohol treatment to stop drinking. I had just switched compulsions from food to alcohol and drugs. I was in a relationship with someone who abused alcohol and drugs, was caring for my sick grandmother, and reaching out to the community in numerous ways while teaching extra nutrition classes and working full-time. In 1987—two years after treatment—I was still drinking. In treatment I had written out a plan for change—but I never carried through with any of the options that were planned.
So, what did I do to begin to make changes? I did a lifestyle evaluation. I contemplated, and then PLANNED changes, that I could make in my life to bring it back to balance.
In 1987, I took a week off, went camping, and did a thorough evaluation of my life. I realized I needed 9.5/days every week to get done all of the things that I was doing! No wonder I was stressed out and harming myself. I thought of all my options and wrote out a list of possible consequences and then did a SCARY thing…I carried out the plan and got out of my 16-year relationship, quit my job, and changed my friendships. Since that time, the urge to drink alcohol and use drugs was completely removed and I have not had a drink for over 19 years. I share this process in this article: Help! I'm movin' too fast! I need to slow down! and in the links below.
Balance in lifestyle is essential for my physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and mental health. When I’m over extended, I become too confused and overwhelmed to practice all of the things I know, and go into “automatic self-destruct” mode. My bio-computer (my brain) blows a fuse, I’m unable to stop and, at that point, I don’t care. If you told me to stop, I’d tell you to “stick it!”
It is most valuable to notice the symptoms of impending emotional and physical overwhelm (check out stress management) and make choices to prune my life back to a healthful balance. Over time, I’ve learned to be my own wise lifestyle counselor.
Check out the links below from the Essential Skills section for helpful ideas :
As you can see, when my life got out of balance, I created the causes and conditions for compulsive behavior (I was completely stressed out).
How about you? Do you find that your life is out of balance at this time? What are the factors that contribute to your imbalance? What can you do to create more time for taking care of your self? To help you explore options scrutinize Help! I'm movin' too fast! I need to slow down!
I encourage you to invest in yourself and TAKE TIME FOR YOU! Try this process out. You'll find that it will pay you rich dividends of increased self-love and personal well-being!
Don’t look around and see what the world needs.
LOOK at what you need to truly come alive
and give that to yourself,
because what the world needs is…
“truly alive people”,
and give that gift to the world!
-- Harold Thurman Whitman
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