The Myth about Balance

Growing up I believed in all the things: Santa was the maker of Christmas joy, the tooth fairy was practically a stealthy Tinkerbell, if I swallowed chewing gum it would remain in my belly for 7 years, and shots weren’t going to really hurt…it was just a prick. I believed fervently in the reality of these beliefs – these truths were truer than true. I was a kid.

As time passed on, I realized (with fervor) the error of my belief system: Each of these truths turned out to be merely a myth. My parents, our church, and our community were the true makers of Christmas joy, and my parents also picked up the role of tooth fairy (which I have learned isn’t the easiest of roles to fulfill) and diminished my hope that a glitter dripping, floating fairy was hanging out every so often and cleaning up my unneeded teeth. I learned that gum does not in fact reside in the comfort of my belly for 7 years, and I learned that chewing gum was actually really bad for you and overly frequent use would inspire a visit from the aforementioned tooth fairy. And finally, I learned that shots at the doctor do indeed hurt, they are not merely a prick, and a dessert treat at the end just isn’t enough for the torture.  

My myths were busted. I recall learning the truth about Santa – something I am desperate to protect from my own children (10 and 7). I remember the disappointment and idea that the whole world had lied to me – that my parents had lied to me. All of this was as true and as real as the myth I once held about Santa’s devotion to my life, my behaviors, and my happiness. My let down was real. But something else was too – the joy and the happiness and the generosity all came from somewhere and were VERY real. But it came from a lot of work and devotion and effort. My parents and their devotion to my life, my behaviors, and my happiness was the real truth.

But then I began to question the validity of other beliefs I continued to hold as an adult. One that springs up again and again is the myth about balance. Have you heard it? The one where we encourage one another to maintain balance and to keep life and its abundant expectations in a form of stasis? We are told we should be able to maintain calm and perspective and carry the many burdens that can throw us off our balance game. We are told that success comes from keeping equitable the responsibilities of our health, our family, our jobs, our communities, and our world – all while keeping the bills paid, the house cleaned, and the Pinterest inspired cupcakes impeccably decorated – all without complaint.  We are told a lot about balance. 

Much of this is simply a myth.  Yes – it all sounds so aspirational and lovely, but without understanding what balance really is, we will find ourselves in our own form of stasis when we were given the gift to be uniquely dynamic, powerful, and ever changing.

I am a huge fan of the ocean. There is so much power and authority in the ocean, and maintaining balance in Posiedon’s domain is a super important aspect of our geological demands. Each day, just as the earth turns, the ocean manages its tidal balance by ebbing and flowing and adjusting and looking rather rough and looking rather placid – this is what balance looks like for the ocean. One thing it never, ever, ever is, is static. It maintains its balance by changing, shifting, growing – by enduring discomfort in the lows and celebrating determination in the highs. The ocean shows us with unexpected unknowns what balance is. 

Webster defines it as “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions”, and I cannot disagree with this. It isn’t the dictionary that got us all mythed up with respect to balance: It is us, our culture, our expectations. These are the culprits of our balance myth. We are not meant to hold it all in one place. We are not meant to remain still as we keep all of our plates from spinning out of control. We are meant to be in motion – to be under, around, within the motion.

During my black belt training, the mantra for our dojo was “Find the Right Balance”, and this has stuck with me since then. In martial arts, nothing stays static – we are always in motion. Shift from this leg to that leg OR this part of the leg to that part of the leg (think weight on the toes versus weight in the hip to push forward). We shift to deflect attacks with our arms and our bodies as we dodge and move the inflicting energy away from us. We maintain our strength by never standing fixed in one place unchanged but instead to keep the energy moving in anticipation of what is coming our way. We maintain balance because we have momentum moving forward – despite our precarious steps or our missed kicks or the hits we undoubtedly took. We keep our balance only from adjusting with the weight. In each moment we were required to find our balance knowing that the next moment would require a new place of balance.

In this time, balance was the most striking thing for me. I was teaching and coaching and getting married and socially active and all the things. I was busy. I was learning. And I was overwhelmed in so many ways. I wanted to be a great teacher, wife, daughter, neighbor, friend, and individual, but I struggled to stand there and hold it all balanced.

This permission to ‘find the right balance’ was so critical and it replaced the previous mantra of “maintain balance”. I understood that balance was not a place you go with a cute bubble on a GPS map, it was, in fact, the journey. Finding balance IS the journey.

When we replace the myth that we must hold it all without wavering with the belief (that can then bore behaviors) that to find balance we must expose and endure the imbalances of our situation and thinking. We must be ready to change.

For me this looks like releasing the need to be (or at least appear to be) perfect. This looks like releasing judgement when I stumble (literally and figuratively) and eliminating self-criticism as I manage my spinning plates. These are not easy releases – especially at the holidays – but easy doesn’t cut it when it comes to being authentically me. When I think of taking it the easy way, I think of my daughter’s Easy Bake Oven. It’s packaged well and appears to have it all; however, the result is always crap. Tiny little, tasteless results, but they were easy, and they look so cute.  

I have learned that hard isn’t always fun, but it is usually worth it. There certainly are times to take the easy way when it comes to navigating traffic and ordering groceries online, but these I would label as smart conveniences – not managing the magnitude of life’s bullets. Doing the harder things may create some current inconveniences but will allow for longterm, repeatable satisfaction. 

The work I do in my coaching practice is grounded in identifying our core values, establishing targets for our journey, and building practices to guide us there. The work I do with my Light Seekers (a little moniker I use for the bright souls I work with), allows us to identify the myths we hold true and then bust through them even when they bring some disappointment and change. The difference is, that we do not have to do it alone. We do not have to bust up Santa’s game leaving the afflicted to mourn alone. We can shift the perspective from, ‘someone took my Santa’ to ‘I was given a new source of hope and purpose’. This shift is the key to finding joy. This shift allows us to see not what we believe but what truly is and truly can be. 

As we enter the holiday season and the joyful chaos that accompanies it, let us find the right balance. Let us not find comfort in our disjointed stasis. Let us reach within to find our light so that we may shine it out for the world to be illuminated.

Balance is not a place to be or a way of being or a fixed location – Balance is the resilience to adhere to our authenticity and wellness despite the factors influencing us. Balance is always there waiting for it knows that chaos is, too. But finding the right balance is a reminder to remain in motion and to remain in hope that we can do these big (and little) things, and we can always find joy within them.

Much Love,


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