Avoiding Extremes & Maintaining Balance Part l
I talk a lot about balance.
Work/life balance and prioritizing ourselves in the midst of our busy lives and… is it even possible?
Well, I can tell you one thing, it’s a lot harder than it looks and for some reason I’ve continued to replay the same pattern of over-work and forced slow-down over the years but I think I finally found the missing piece.
Stay with me here and check it out…
UPPER LIMIT PROBLEM?
We’re reading The Big Leap right now in Beyond Book Club and the author talks about our “Upper Limit Problem.” In short, how we subconsciously want to stay in our comfort zones and therefore tend to self-sabotage right before or right as we go big or take the leap into our greatness.
Our ego gets uncomfortable with such new and uncharted territory and wants to bring us back to a place of familiarity, aka our comfort zone.
Yet as they say, nothing good ever comes from our comfort zone.
So it’s up to us then to do the uncomfortable work to move out and stay out of our comfort zone.
I’ve been aware of this pattern of mine for several years now.
My Type-A, over-achieving, Enneagram 3-ness flexes its muscles and I want to take on the world.
I usually (always) take on too much and find myself living tightly strung and highly stressed until sh*t hits the fan. Either with my own health, the health of my relationships, or both, and I’m forced to slow down.
And it’s a huge slow-down, almost more like a shut-down: drop all but the essential work, pull away from outside obligations, go deeply inward to a place of self-restoration and self-care. While that part is kinda nice, it’s not sustainable nor is it outwardly productive and it can’t keep happening.
Of course that restorative time that follows? It feels amazing! I mean, self-care works people! (You try doing nothing but nurturing and stress-relieving measures to love up on yourself for a month or two and tell me just how good you feel!)
My problem, is that I reemerge from that cocoon of self-care, feeling like a million bucks, and that Type A, over-achieving, Enneagram 3-ness in me wants to conquer the world all over again. And we’re off!
Case in point, this summer:
I took most of the summer off as I was venturing into my newly alcohol-free life and was focusing on everything I could to take care of myself: green juice and coffee every morning in the summer sun, journaling, daily walks, massages, pedicures, facials, long leisurely lunches with good friends, time in nature.
It was wonderful and did amazing things for not only my completely shot nervous system and but for the healing I didn’t even know I desperately needed at that time.
Towards the end of August, I was feeling on top of the world! And rightly so.
It was time to get fall Beyond Book Club scheduled and I decided that, instead of my normal two sessions, I’d run not three, but four!
- Oh and while I was at it I’d start a new coaching group!
- I’d schedule monthly workshops throughout the fall!
- I’d say ‘yes’ to every podcast and online summit appearance that crossed my path.
- I’d run an accountability group!
I. Was. Back!
(Insert hindsight eye roll and sympathetic head shake.)
YOU GUESSED IT
Well, you guessed it, I was immediately so busy that I not only didn’t have time to maintain the level of self-care I had been doing all summer, I barely had time to brush my teeth!
Within a month I was back to stressed out, high strung, losing my concentration, and at times my cool. My old, bad coping habits were coming back with a vengeance; stress eating, sweets, zoning out on my phone (because we all know just how productive that is!) working too late and disrupting my sleep, etc.
Everything I was doing felt urgent. I felt overwhelmed. There was never any time. I started to feel like shit and I knew I was failing around the house, if anything just failing at being present, the most important thing. (And damn if wasn’t that one of my biggest goals in giving up alcohol!)
SOMETHING HAD TO GIVE
Back in June at the outset of my ‘take-care-of-Katie’ mission, I had cancelled a big fancy networking trip that’d I’d booked for August in southern Cal and instead booked a Grounding Retreat in Nebraska for September instead. Talk about a 180!
I remember thinking when I booked it that retreat that I wished I was going that very weekend and wondering if I would I even still need it in 2 months?
Good Lord did I.
That retreat, which I hope to write more about, came at the perfect time for me. In the week leading up to it I had individual sit-downs with my husband, my therapist, my Ayurvedic doc, and all of them, without actually shouting, lovingly but firmly told me I had to SLOW DOWN.
NOT MY FIRST RODEO
This was not my first rodeo (you can read about my adrenal fatigue crash and recovery here), so how did I get here, again?
It was time to re-prioritize and re-define success.
Nothing I was doing (or should I say over-doing) with my work met with my true priorities which include family, kids, relationships, being present, health, or my success which I would define as serving my clients and others.
Yes, I was cranking on Book Clubs and podcast appearances which was all good, but in the absence of space and time to take care of myself, I no longer could share my authentic, inspired true self.
I wasn’t even able to write a blog or share inspiration. I literally didn’t have time. I was so out of touch with my own feelings I was hardly in a grounded or inspired place to write and inspire you. I was spinning my wheels and I wasn’t really serving anyone.
MY ‘COMFORT ZONE’ IS MY EXTREMES?
So I had this a-ha moment.
What did I realize? That I’m addicted to the “busy,” that I’m more comfortable in the overwhelm and the extremes…
Certainly not a place I want to be or a pattern I want to keep repeating!
So why is has it been so hard for me find my gentle middle, and more importantly, to stay there?
Up next I’ll share this realization, one that I think will be life-changing for me, and maybe you too, and what I’m doing to avoid my extremes moving forward.
DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?
Do you fall into the same patterns?
Swinging from extreme to extreme?
Where have you noticed this in your life and what have you done in the past to “recover” or find your middle ground?
Continued in Part ll