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June 7, 2021

Hey Christina, Is there truly such thing as a “work/life balance”, or are we merely in a self-inflicted stressful pursuit of something that does not consistently exist, considering the realities of life and it’s daily changes and challenges?

– Burning the Candle at Both Ends

I often hear about the quest for work/life balance, and I can’t help but feel it is all about perspective. Perspective is a topic that comes up frequently in my coaching practice, and my belief is that it is a choice.

To reflect on your own perspective, I challenge you to ask yourself a number of questions: Am I happy? Do I love what I do, day-in and day-out? Do I get up with a bounce in my step and feel rewarded at work and in life? Do I play? Do I spend time connecting with family? Do I love my partner and enjoy him or her?

If you are not sleeping or eating well, or if you are edgy and grumbly with the people that you live and work with,  I would dig a little deeper to see what it is that is leaving you feeling imbalanced.

There are ways to “trim the fat” at work and home by implementing processes that set you up for success to achieve a better balance. This may be the creation of boundaries or self imposed rules. For example, when you walk in the door after a work day, is there space to put the work brain on a temporary pause? Tell your self that you are unplugging for a specific amount of time, you can even set a timer. Tomorrow’s to-do’s will be there tomorrow. The brain likes structure and clarity, and sometimes giving ourselves permission is all we need.

It boils down to a fairly simple rule: If something is not working, or you don’t like it, change it. If you are not willing to change it, accepting it will give you space to see that just maybe your life is in a balance that indeed does work for you.

We all have a different scale and sometimes it helps to change our perspective to see and believe that our existing work/life balance is working for us. Being content is unusual; we are often programmed to see the negative and to constantly seek more, but we can decide that it’s perfectly beautiful to be content in the lives that we’ve designed for ourselves.

When it comes to letting go of previous hurts, aka “baggage”, I have learned that it is all about forgiveness. There is space and a need to forgive the person, but more importantly there is a need to forgive ourselves. If we can’t forgive ourselves, it will be darn near impossible to truly forgive others. If we can’t forgive others, we may find ourselves sitting in anger. From what I’ve seen, this forgiveness tends to stem from the need to forgive ourselves for not seeing the relationship for what it truly was. I often hear from clients; men and women alike, “Why the hell did I stay for so long?” or “Why did I accept this for so long?” or “How did I not see what I was doing?” There is a layer of guilt and even shame that resides here and this truly needs to be set free. If you are holding yourself in contempt, this is sure to show up towards your partner in your relationship. This line of questioning around, “Why did I accept or stay for so long?” is something I hear from almost every client. Self-compassion is foreign to us, as many of us have been raised to believe that it is best to put others’ happiness ahead of our own… to stick it out, to accept and persevere.

In regards to baggage, I’d say there’s one super power that you can try on. When you get poked/triggered/activated/annoyed in your relationship, I encourage you to spin it back to self. We so often go to a place and focus on how we were wronged, when it should be about how we could have showed up better for self. Take this one step further and look at what it was that triggered you. Take a breath and hear the story that you weave around it… and then ask yourself, “Is this true?” A great way to execute this is to capture the following four things:

  1. The incident – Pick a moment that poked you and capture the “who”, “what”, “when”, “where” kind of details.
  2. The head – This is what you think about the moment. This is often the loud voice that speaks up for you and yearns to protect, defend and support you.
  3. The heart – This is what you feel about the moment. This is where the unlovable, “I am not worthy” has a tendency to live.
  4. The body – This is what you physically felt in your body when the moment happened.

While each of these areas are helpful to get a handle on, the head is what you really want to tap into. The story that lives here is so often untrue and this story is behind what is holding you ransom. As you write, ask yourself, “Is this true?” Ask this until you crack it, because our stories have long legs and add more and more content to the “baggage”.

Have a question for Christina?

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