Balance is one of the most fundamental concepts in health and wellness. It is a major component of pretty much any medical or philosophical tradition you could name and has been one of the most important aspects of my own career as well. If you break it down, almost every one of the clients I’ve worked with in the past 30 years has been out of balance in some way, because just about any problem you could ever have involves some form of imbalance. But even though the core idea is extremely simple, life tends to create complications—and simple isn’t the same as easy.
I once worked with a woman who was a vegan and a vegetarian—this was back when I was just starting out in private practice. She’d come to me primarily for help with her negative thoughts and emotions, but the one thing that really made her light up was talking about her diet. She’d been watching every bite she ate for the last twenty years and swore by it. So I tested her with a method I’ve used throughout my career, and immediately wished I hadn’t.
What I got from my testing was that she needed to eat a nice juicy hamburger. As soon as I got that I thought “Oh, man. If I tell her that, she’s never going to speak to me again.” I thought about just forgetting it and moving on, but that wouldn’t have been honest. This woman had come to me for help, what kind of doctor would I be if I held something back?
I told her. It went about how I expected it to. She sat there in stunned silence for about a full minute and then walked out without a word. I thought I’d seen the last of her, but a few days later she called me. She said that even though she was furious with me for suggesting that, she had eventually decided that I was genuinely trying to help her and started to wonder why it was such a big deal for her to make an exception just once. Bottom line: she took my advice and told me afterward that she hadn’t felt so good in years.
The interesting thing is that a lot of people would say that her way is the more balanced. Maybe not veganism in particular, but being careful and deliberate about what you eat. Now, there can certainly be great value in that. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from practicing an intentional diet. My point is that sticking 100 percent to a particular pattern regardless of circumstances is not balance. Think about how you keep your physical balance as you move around every day. If a strong wind is blowing or the ground is uneven, you will have to shift your weight. You have to move in different ways to keep your balance centered. So even though balance is meant to create stability in our lives, being too rigid eventually creates its own set of problems.
It may sound contradictory, but I think one of the primary purposes of balance is to create freedom, not restrictions. All the word really means is bringing all the different parts of your life into harmony—in other words, getting your life in good working order. If you were to think of a car, for example, then it should be obvious that it will get you around much easier once all the parts are working together properly and you’ve learned to shift gears without grinding them. Our lives are no different. All of the restrictions imposed on us by ourselves and others only feel like restrictions until we understand how they work for us, and how to fit them together into a healthy life. Once you do that, it’s like learning to walk—and suddenly you can go places and do things you could hardly have imagined before.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!