How many of you struggle to find balance in your life? Whether you’re a parent or not, most of us seek that elusive state of balance in our lives. For me, a sense of being out of balance means something is unresolved or about to change. It might be a conflict that is simmering, a plan that is awaiting action, or a relationship that is struggling. My reflex in these types of situations is to smooth things over and get back to normal as quickly as possible. I am uncomfortable in the in-between parts of life.
Recently I read something on the subject of balance that challenged my modus operandi. Here’s a short excerpt from a chapter in Margaret Wheatley’s book, Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World:
All life lives off-balance in a world that is open to change. And all life is self-organizing. We do not have to fear disequilibrium, nor do we have to approach change so fearfully. Instead, we can realize that, like all life, we know how to grow and evolve in the midst of constant flux. There is a path through change that leads to greater independence and resiliency. We dance along this path by maintaing a coherent identity and by honoring everybody’s need for self-determination.
This made me stop and think about how much I try to control my environment and circumstances by inhibiting change, conflict, and the unknown. It is a fear-based response to the unknown that motivates this need for balance. In an effort to protect myself, and the life I have built, I unconsciously sabotage the growth that is necessary for healthy evolution. Perhaps a better response would be to approach change with openness and trust. Trusting that I have the core identity to move through disruption and yet remain stable.
If we understand that balance is a myth, that no living system remains in equilibrium, than maybe we can begin to let go of our fear. If we also understand that equilibrium is actually a neutral state, one where nothing new is actually being produced, than maybe we’ll see it as less desirable.
A more helpful concept than balance could be rhythm. Rhythm allows for the movement and tension in life that is so necessary for growth. A better use of my time and energy would be joining in the rhythm, rather than teetering on a false balance.