There is much discussion around Balance – what it means, how to achieve it, and how to maintain it. We as people are always seeking to find balance. It is suggested that prioritizing can lead to balance and things like making lists and mindfulness and yoga can help sustain it. I have observed, through my own personal life and those of others, people attempting to find balance in their lives in ways that are less productive and result in challenges that further complicate the arrival to a balanced existence. Our bodies find homeostasis by creating internal stability to compensate for the ever changing environments in which we find ourselves; our internal bodily temperature is an example of this. I believe this happens emotionally, socially, and spiritually as well.
A significant component of this striving for balance is control. When there is an area in life that seems out of control there will likely be another area in which we compensate by tightening our grip. This is frequently not a conscious experience, yet one that manifests often. When I am experiencing a lack of control in one area of my life, I become overly concerned (borderline obsessed) with cleaning and organizing. Because cleaning and organizing are generally considered positive, it is easy for me to overlook the many ways I am using those actions to mask other things that are happening in my life. Checking my bank account and feeling a loss of control over my finances may result in me coming home and deciding that the entire house needs to be deep cleaned. On the surface that may not seem like a problem until the various ways it plays out begins taking shape. My decision to clean isn’t a conscious choice and isn’t made as I’m checking the account. It is one that is made when I walk in the door and begin pointing out all the things that need to be done around the house and internally blaming my husband and children for “the mess” that is our home. Feelings of resentment and anger begin to arise as I then begin thinking about how nice it would be to come home from a long day’s work and not have to “do all the work” of making our place livable. Through this now bitter lens I am short with my kids and snappy with my partner and finally decide that “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done” and proceed to Tasmanian Devil around the house. You see, it really had very little to do with the clutter or uncleanliness, but the condition of my home was something I could control when my finances felt out of control. Unfortunately, while unconsciously trying to find balance and control I created additional tension and strain in my important relationships. And not surprisingly, once my house was clean I still had the same amount of money in the bank. It’s similar to the person who has a negative interaction with his boss and drives erratically on his way home. The negative interaction which left him feeling out of control led to his attempt to control something. His need to avoid the feelings stirred up by this interaction results in him trying to get away from work as quickly as possible. Now every law abiding driver going the speed limit and stopping at yellow lights is met with his words of condemnation and colorful l hand gestures. This is not a conscious experience and his little to nothing to do with the other drivers on the road but everything to do with him trying regain control. Just think about yourself or others you may know who insist on taking a drive after an argument. They are often far from safe, but to regain some control many people get behind the wheel.
Whether it’s furiously cleaning, going for an erratic drive, picking a fight with a loved one, going on a shopping spree the key is to recognize when our actions are an attempt to gain control because we feel a lack of control somewhere else in our lives. This realization can stop us from creating bigger problems for ourselves and relationships and help us get to real root of our concerns – where we feel out of control. Need help with identifying where you feel out of control and how you can address it, Labors of Love would love to assist you.