Today’s guest post is courtesy of Crabby McSlacker, who blogs over at Cranky Fitness, a blog that is partly about Health and Fitness but mostly about whining. Warning: This post contains some material originally published back when Cranky Fitness had about 4 readers. Crabby hereby apologizes to those 4 readers. But since this post is about balance, a subject Crabby still struggles with, she figured it might be time a good time to revisit the issue.
In the exercise world, some people are runners; some people are walkers; and the vast majority of folks rarely get off the couch at all.
People who get off the couch and walk are doing something huge and healthy and virtuous! Yet walking isn’t as fast as running, and people who “only” walk can sometimes feel inadequate or guilty.
However, there are many areas of life besides aerobic exercise. You may be a “walker” when it comes to exercise, but a “runner” when it comes to your job. You may be “lying on the couch” when it comes to Making Your Marriage Work. There are not enough hours a day to be a runner in everything.
So why do so many of us concentrate our efforts on improving our fastest times in areas where we’re already running? But remain, in other important areas of our lives, stuck on the couch?
Say you’ve been putting a tremendous amount of energy into being The Worlds’ Best Mom. Because what could be more important? You’re running maternal marathons at a 4 minute mile pace, yet you still feel you should run further, faster–because there’s still more you could do. Your little boy just bit the Kindergarten teacher and you make brownies from a box when all the magazines say you should make ’em from from scratch with all organic ingredients!
And yet you promised yourself you’d do something about your rising blood pressure and racing heart and your doctor said something about “relaxation exercises” but where would you find the time?
The hardest part about achieving “better balance” is not putting more effort into something: it’s imagining spending LESS effort in something you’re already invested in.
How do we refocus?
Let’s pretend Crabby McSlacker is your Therapist today. Visualize that you’re in a nicely furnished office for your Therapy Appointment. The chair is soft and comfortable and the room smells like furniture polish and mint tea. There’s even really nice art on the walls.
“So,” says Dr. Crabby. “Why so frantic? Why are you spending so much energy [running/working/parenting/studying/dieting]? Aren’t there other priorities you’ve said are important?”
“But I can’t slow down,” you say. “There’s still so much more I need to do! I know I should do other things too, but I feel like have to keep going. I still have so far to go and I’m way behind where I want to be. I probably should cut back, but I CAN’T!”
“You can’t?” Dr. Crabby looks curious. “So what are you afraid will happen?”
What are you afraid of?
What would it be like if you cut back?
This is not to pretend that nothing bad could happen. Life is all about trade-offs: the time you need for other things has to come from somewhere. But what are you telling yourself would happen? Are you sure your fears are realistic?
Do you fear if you don’t do it “all” you won’t do anything?
Do you fear people will think you’ve become lazy/stupid/unreliable?
Do you fear that everything you’ve already accomplished will disappear overnight if you don’t work frantically to maintain it?
Do you fear you would just be “ordinary” if you didn’t excel?
The idea is to figure out what’s driving you, personally, to overemphasize this one area of your life. (If this is indeed something you’re doing).
One more thought:
Often, it’s easy to emphasize Appearances over Reality. Sometimes adjustments can be made along these lines to free up time. For example the things people do to Look like a Good Parent (i.e., coaching Little League) may be extremely time-consuming and may not correlate all that well with being Good Parents.
Likewise, the numbers on the scale, or the miles logged on a treadmill, or the number of pounds we can bench press: they’re just numbers. They’re not “health.” You know better than other folks, or a bunch of arbitrary numbers, what YOU need for a more balanced life.
Does anyone else struggle with this, or is it just me?