Stress and Balance … (11/30/2005)


Life is all about balance. Or, perhaps a better way of making that real is this; life is about seeking balance.

Stress is an indicator of lost balance. It matters not whether it is the stress of a bump on the head from falling over, or the stress of a friendship that feels as though it is fracturing. There is lost balance where there is stress.

If a husband and wife, several years married, begin to feel stress in their relationship, they need to examine the relationship for clues to what is not balanced. Is it the ratio of his work/family time? Is it the ratio of bills/income? Is it her ratio of family/personal time? Something is out of balance, and the only way to restore stability is to find the problem, and resolve it – with an eye to what is best for everyone affected.

There is a special consideration where children are concerned, though. If a child is normally a great student who gets along well with his/her peers, and suddenly begins acting up at school and getting bad grades, the parents need to look at their home life. Very closely. Have they been fighting? Have there been incidents the child might percieve as a threat to the stability of the family? Children have two outstanding qualities that are often overlooked, or underappreciated. They have terrific imaginations – and they are not usually as dumb as adults treat them.

When a child thinks the family unit is in danger, he/she will almost automatically try to find a way to patch it up. The threat can be real, or imaginary, but the child will treat it as real until proven otherwise. The child, however, will usually (without even thinking it through) believe itself powerless to make a direct impact on the family, so will resort to indirect actions. Those can include becoming ill (which can be VERY real), trying to get attention, or becoming a social misfit. The outcome is, at least temporarily, that they usually succeed in drawing the parents together to fight “the problem.” Thus, the child has succeeded in saving the family – or so he thinks.

So, the parents of a child with any of the above indicators (or any radical departures from what they see as “normal” for the child) should, once again, look to the family unit for what is out of balance. It might be as simple as giving the child reassurance that there is no threat to the family, even if mom & dad do argue on occasion. Each is still in love with the other, and you will both stay there to work everything out, both because you love each other and because you love him/her.

Everything in nature tries to show us how to develop balance. Perhaps the best teacher of all is the domestic house cat. A house cat never carries any unnecessary baggage around, like the memories of 100K times that someone disappointed them, or broke a promise, or acted suspiciously. I’ve seen a cat so focused in the present that it looked like it had become a statue, completely intent on . . . . ? (catching a ball two children were rolling across the kitchen floor, or catching a mouse it expected to spring from a hole in the baseboard, or surprising the family poodle as it walked through the livingroom, etc.) They can also relax so completely that trying to pick them up can be like trying to lift water with a strainer. Also, the transition time from one state to the other can be mear moments. Show me one person you know who can be so focused, and make the transition to total relaxation, as easilly.

Actually, I know of several who either can, or I suspect they can. But, these are people who have learned not to carry emotional baggage. That does not mean that they don’t have emotions, but it does mean that if an emotion is not appropriate to the situation, they will let go of it and take the necessary actions to restore their own sense of balance in their life. To them, life is a continuous series of “now” moments – not a collection of past “then” moments aimed at some great “future” dreams. They live each moment as fully as possible – the past is gone and the future is uncertain, despite the best laid plans.

So should we all aspire to lead our lives. Remember the comments I made in an earlier post about friends, enemies, and teachers? If we truely let go of the past, we have no enemies, for they have not done anything to merit our enmity. I know whereof I speak – for there are few fields more ripe for long-term bitterness than the field of a badly failed marriage. The pain, anger, and upset can keep a bitter harvest growing for years. But, letting go of the past can cause instant crop failure and lead to the restoration of a normal friendship, even more than a decade later. As I said when I started this blog, it’s all about how I became someone my own ex-wife admits is a better person than when we were married. Well, this is one of the things that I learned. It didn’t matter what happened then, or who I felt was at fault or not. We were both doing the best we knew how to do at that time. That is all that anyone ever does. Placing blame, pointing fingers, carrying grudges, ONLY serves to slow down our own personal growth. Seeking oportunities to help others, to be a kind voice or a nurturing hand, keep our feet moving up the path to being better versions of ourselves.

Also, those actions will go a long ways toward simplifying our lives enough that, when stress shows up (and it will never stop – so loose that idea right away) we can easilly spot the reasons for it and correct them quickly. This is how we grow, and keep growing throughout our lifetimes.

No matter how many lifetimes we get a chance at.

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