Maintaining Balance in Relationships

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Health and happiness are depen­dent on establishing and main­taining balance in all aspects of life. Although we most frequently only consider balance in body and mind and in work and play, it is necessary to also examine how we are at maintaining balance in relationships. We need to con­sider whether our tendency is to be so concerned about the needs of others that we sometimes neglect our own needs, or if we tend to be so involved in satisfy­ing our own needs that we sometimes neglect the needs of others. 

Most of us are somewhere in-be­tween, with a habitual tendency toward one direction or the other. Finding bal­ance in relationships is indeed an age-old challenge, so it would be nice to have
a handy-dandy reminder to help bring balance when things become unbal­anced. There is an ancient simile that remains as relevant and applicable today as it was more than 2,000 years ago. 
It depicts two acrobats about to perform their pole-balancing act in which a strong male is balancing a pole on his shoulder while an agile female is performing her acrobatic act atop the pole. They are discussing how best to remain safely balanced and successfully complete their performance. 

In the first scenario, midway through the act, the pole begins to wob­ble badly. The male on the bottom looks up to see what's happening and begins shouting advice. Yet, when he looks up to shout advice, the pole becomes even more unbalanced. He also distracts the acrobat on top, making it more difficult for her to regain her balance. Conse­quently neither regains their balance. She falls, and both are injured. 

In the second scenario, the pole wobbles badly, but this time both acrobats look outward to the audience, reacting to gasps, perhaps searching for feedback or advice. When their atten­tion goes outward, the acrobats lose their focus. He is unable to steady the pole. She is unable to regain her balance. She falls, and both are injured. 

The third scenario, in which the ac­robats each react to a wobble by immedi­ately bringing strong mindfulness to their own experience, thereby each regaining their balance and together safely com­pleting the performance. They silently conclude that by mindfully attending to their own changing inner experience and maintaining their balance, they not only take care of themselves, but also actually protect others. 

Being mindful when things begin to wobble in life can help us regain our bal­ance. Exploring the power of mindfulness is a good first step to regaining balance, being able to visualize the outcome and respond, rather rather than react to it. 

Ann Smith is a local mindfulness practitio­ner and writer.