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  • Writer's pictureCamilla Coakley, LCSW

A Balanced Life?

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

“Where we think we need more self-discipline, we usually need more self-love.”

~Tara Mohr

This quote stopped me in my tracks. I re-read it and I let the meaning percolate in my mind as the sentiment sank into my heart.

deep breath, you are ok.

This statement whispers, “it doesn’t have to be this hard”. It reminds me of one of nature’s universal laws-- going with the flow is much easier, more productive and enjoyable then going against it. Since reading this statement, I find myself asking: “Am I swimming with the tide or against it?”

Within my own struggle to find the elusive “life balance”, I have begun to question the whole idea of balance itself. Is striving for balance pressuring us to have more self-discipline, when really what we need is more self-love?

I am curious if we would feel less guilty, and have less of a struggle, if we gave up the goal of balance and instead, opened up to the flow of harmony.

Harmony releases the pressure valve. It allows us to be freed from the heavy burden of having to be and do everything in equal amounts. Harmony means getting clear on what you currently value most and not pushing yourself beyond what you truly have time for.

Over the years I have discovered three key practices that have helped me live my life more harmoniously.

Permission to pause

Give yourself permission to take a moment and ask: what area in your life do you want to take center stage, right now? In other words, what area will be the lead singer? And what areas will make up the chorus?

It is essential that you continue to reflect on how your decisions are either contributing to your harmony or perhaps inadvertently creating a cacophony.

A sure bet to know when you need to take a moment to do some reflection is when you are overwhelmed and irritable. When something feels off, or feels like too much of a struggle, get curious about what needs to be shifted, added or removed to allow for your harmony to flow again. What needs to take a backseat for awhile? Or maybe a new harmony is wanting to evolve with a different area of your life taking center stage.

Acceptance & Commitment

Accepting and committing to what needs to change in your life in order for your harmony to flow can be a challenge. What helps me is adopting the attitude of: this is not forever.

My harmony shifts year to year and often, even month to month. After my daughter was born my role as a mother took over the ENTIRE stage. During that time exercise all but disappeared from my life. I was frustrated by this until I finally accepted the fact that for the next year or so, I wasn’t going to be able to workout like I used to. I let go of the belief that my workouts needed a strenuous 60 minutes to be worth it. I committed to 20 minute workouts a few days a week. It was a huge relief once I accepted this. I became less stressed, less irritable and overall a happier and more present mom and partner. The pressure to strive for the perfect balance was off, my harmony felt in flow.

Done is Better than Perfect

As a recovering perfectionist, this has been the hardest and the most important. There is a huge acceptance piece when you choose done over perfect.

Today exercise takes a bigger presence in my life, but I have found relief in accepting that my exercise doesn’t need to be so time consuming or intense. A few minutes of exercise is much better than not exercising at all.

This means, for example not adding the pressure of training for a half marathon, when really all you want to be doing is running around at the park with your kids after work.

The Art of Saying No

This is a great one. Before committing to anything, pause and ask: does this contribute or does this interfere with my harmony? “I’ll get back to you tomorrow” is a great way to buy yourself some time.

But how do you say no without feeling guilty? Say yes while you say no!

“Yes, I do want to do that AND unfortunately No, I cannot commit to that right now. Let’s revisit this in a week, month, year.”

Remind yourself when you are saying no to something you are ultimately saying yes to something else that is more important to you in this moment in your life ---and that, my friend is the lesson of harmony.

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