Understanding Balance

Balance. I am 43 years old and would you believe two years ago, I didn’t know what BALANCE even meant? After all, how do you understand something you have never experienced. I started drinking alcohol at around 15 years old. Soon after, I began smoking marijuana which lead to hard drug use in later years. Life has nudged me to use less drugs (helloooo bad consequences) as I have become older and more mature. Yet, I had a real hard time putting the alcohol down. Using alcohol and drugs at such a young age meant I became a full grown adult, without ever having experienced any harmony in life. I could fill a library with the lessons I have learned from being an addict but here I want to discuss the absolute beauty of BALANCE.
I attest, proud to say… I sit before you now, a full grown girl who is living a balanced life. I have a lot of pride in the work I have put in to discovering how to cultivate joy and stasis. I began the search for a happier life many years ago; only in the past two years have I started to reap the benefits and rewards. The reason for this: I continued using alcohol to cope with all negativity in my life. And boy was there a lot of that, negativity. Unbeknownst to me, I was living a life in crisis- needing something outside of myself to find faux balance. If using drugs or alcohol is your thing, your first step HAS to be getting it under control. If you are living with an addiction you are living in crisis mode and NOTHING can grow during crisis.
Hindsight being 20/20, here is a list of approaches I would recommend for anyone trying to live a balanced life. If you have to question whether your life is balanced, then it’s not. Perhaps if I had read this in the midst of my suffering, it would have pointed me in the right direction. Hard to say. I do know that when everything in your life reaches harmony, it feels so great, you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops!!! So here I sit, on my rooftop, hoping that someone will hear me.
  • Balanced Brain Chemicals – If you use substances to help you find balance, you have likely screwed up your brain chemistry.  Alcohol is a depressant which slows everything down in your body. Your reactions and thinking become slowed. Over time, alcohol increases the bodies production of chemicals that “excite” in order find the normal balance BALANCE. When you take the alcohol away, the body still has a larger than normal amount of “excitement”. The result is that the brain becomes OVER aware and stimulated too much. The only option you have at this point is to pour some booze into that chemistry so that all is balanced and well. Some people have unequal brain chemistry without using alcohol or drugs, I was very fortunate that this did not end up being the case for me. All of my issues were self induced which makes it a lot easier to fix on your own. Those who feel they may be unbalanced by nature and substance abuse is not the cause, should seek the help of a professional. In this age of science, we should all be fortunate enough to find balance in our brains.
  • Balanced Emotions When your brain chemistry is corrected, many issues with being overly emotional will usually correct themselves. When you come out of whatever crisis mode you’re living in, you will likely begin to experience emotions that feel goooooood, so your repeat. Some of our unstable emotions are conditioned behaviors. Meaning, we have learned it through the course of our lives. Either by repeating the behavior with out checking it, or having a particular behavior in our environment that we normalize. I know that to many, meditation seems like a voodoo, frou-frou waste of time. I am here to tell you, I was one of those people, I no longer am. I am a recovered user as well as a believer in meditation, what world am I living in?? I never thought I would say those particular things about myself. Thoughts become emotions. If you become aware of your thoughts, you become aware of your emotions. For most of us, it is THAT simple.
  • Balanced Health (Insert idiom about dead horse here.) We all know we need to be healthy. The healthiest survive the longest, the one thing we are all after the hardest, is survival. So, that being said, do your best. Do your best to eat what you know to be good for you. I am from the south where the food can speak to your soul right comfortably. Food which is good for your soul can be good for you too, but in moderation. I use fatback once a week which will likely never change, because I keep it balanced. Do your best to get your body moving, whatever that looks like for you. The one action you cannot do while trying to do the right thing health wise is beat yourself up. If you do, you will begin to associate being healthful with feeling bad. You will not succeed if you don’t become your biggest fan, pull for yourself to succeed the same way you would pull for a friend. Give yourself a break and do your best to get a little bit better every day or every week. Say prideful things to yourself- “you are a badass for walking for five minutes today, we will walk six tomorrow” or “You probably shouldn’t have eaten three cookies but you’re a badass, no excess sugar tomorrow”.
If you have mastered the list above then you have become ready to start fine tuning the equanimity in your life. You can look for ways to better balance your time, your family life, your social life. If you can get yourself out of crisis mode, most of the rest will fall into place. The scary part, if you’re like me, you may not even realize you’re in crisis mode until much time has passed. If you question whether you drink too much, you do. If you question if you smoke too much weed, you do. If you get to work today on this list of THREE things, I promise you will begin to live a life that is fulfilled. Gone are the days when we have to suffer through life, get on board – this is too important to be left behind.

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