Stef (firecat) wrote,

Standing on my head

This is a rambling post initially inspired by something a number of my LJ friends are posting about today:
What I would like you all to do--and any of your friends and family who want to, the more the merrier--is think about balance in your lives. It applies in all sorts of places. So I would really, really appreciate it if you could do something to bring about a little more balance in your own life, and then come over to my lj to comment or write me an e-mail to tell me about it. It could be very literal, doing a few yoga poses or balancing your checkbook. Or it could be a lot more abstract than that. Leave work on time that Friday to give non-work activities more of their place in your life. Read hard SF if you've mostly been reading high fantasy. Spend more time by yourself if you've been feeling pushed into more extroversion than you have available. Call your grandmother if you feel like you haven't had enough time with family and are lucky enough to still have one. Balance, balance, balance.

Please? This is frankly pretty hard for me, and I would kind of like to put it in a larger context rather than feeling alone with it.

What I find most interesting about these posts are the semi-stated and semi-unstated definitions of "balance." Balance your checkbook, do yoga, read something different, talk to someone you don't usually talk to. Why do those things count as "balance"?

Some of the comments and some of the other people making posts referencing this post suggest that balance is about improving your posture, or about figuring out what's important to you and doing more of it, or about figuring out what's not so important to you and doing less of it.

I am having a weird emotional reaction to the term. When I hear the term applied to life, I think of balancing on a tightrope or on one leg. I think of "doing something very difficult where I have to be ultrafocused every second and constantly readjusting." That sounds unpleasant to me.

When I think of what I want my life to be like, terms like "smooth" and "flow" and "movement" come to mind. I used to think, and to a certain extent still do think, that I'm living my life right when something comes into my life that I feel a strong sense of "rightness" about and I grab onto that and let it lead me somewhere. On the one hand, I've been rethinking that because the big epiphany moments of "Aha! This is my purpose now!" seem to be coming more rarely. On the other hand I think moments of "feeling right" about doing smaller things come more often.

I do sometimes feel like making specific goals of the "I will do X by Y" variety, but when I make those goals they mostly don't seem to help me achieve X. In other words it is not the fact of having a goal that leads me to achieve X. It's something else—it's because on some less accessible level I want to do X/ it feels right to do X, and in that case I will do it whether or not I have explicitly set a goal....although articulating the goal does help me focus on it a bit more.

The only external motivator that will help me achieve X is if I promise someone to do it. But I am very cautious about making promises and won't make a promise if I am not pretty sure the internal motivation is there. So I can't use such promises to "trick" myself into doing something that I wouldn't do otherwise.

Something in me feels suspicious of predicting the future, and I think of making explicit and detailed goals as predicting the future. When I ask myself what I am suspicious of, it works out to something like a superstition of the variety "If you say that something will happen, it won't happen." It also works out to feeling that it is very wrong for me to be mistaken, as if there is someone watching who will leap around with glee pointing a finger at me and saying "AHA! You were WRONG!" if I explicitly state that something will happen and then it doesn't happen.

I actually end up projecting this onto other people, so if people state goals, I sometimes feel worried and/or embarrassed on their behalf.

This mental entity is also a reason why I have historically avoided talking very much about my feelings. If I communicate that I feel a certain way and then later on I don't (which often happens, feelings being fleeting), I feel humiliated. On some level I think that I should only communicate something if it is going to remain true for a long time. (Or if I know it won't, I have an obligation to communicate that, too.)

I know darn well that no one is watching what I say every nanosecond trying to find inconsistencies. And if I am conscious enough to remind myself of that, the tendency does not affect my behavior all that much. But most of the time I am not consciously thinking about it, and then it does affect my behavior. Not only my external behavior (what I communicate) but also my internal behavior. I habitually slide into being pretty unaware of my feelings. I would rather feel them and then choose whether to engage with them or not, than to not feel them at all. Mindfulness meditation has been helping me with that and now it's a little easier for me to check in with myself and have an answer to "What sorts of things am I feeling right now?"

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