I sent out a survey recently to some of my ideal clients asking them questions about what was causing them the most pain (physical, mental, and/or emotional) in their lives.
One response really stuck out to me. It was more an overall comment then an actual response, but it was telling all the same.
This particular person mentioned that balancing work and life was a really big struggle, but then again, that’s what everyone is always trying to figure out anyway.
The #1 Pain Women Face
It’s a true statement. We are all trying to figure out how to balance work and life, myself included, and we’ve been trying to figure it out since the feminist movement became a thing. It’s part of what makes us human, and it’s part of what makes life so interesting.
But this woman who completed my survey was also minimizing her pain. She was feeling guilty about experiencing pain at all, because hers probably isn’t that bad compared to others who are going through more serious issues.
I don’t know for sure, but the energy I felt from her answer was that she was guilty for having such a great life and complaining about such trivial matters. She felt bad about the pain and the tension she was experiencing, like she shouldn’t be experiencing it and she should just be grateful for what she has rather then trying to strive for something better.
The thing was, she didn’t have any real debilitating physical pain. She just felt overwhelmed, unmotivated, and unhappy sometimes.
And it is that very tension that causes women the most pain in our lives. It is that pain that is the hardest to recover from. That pain is so deeply rooted in our psyche that we don’t even know if it’s physical, mental, emotional or a mixture of all 3.
It is that pain that festers for our entire lives untouched.
We might try to stretch and breathe through it, but until we acknowledge it head on for what it is, we’ll never get past it.
It’s a pain steeped in self-worth.
Why You’re Afraid to Live Well
This pain keeps us from happiness and balance and all the goals we want to achieve to live well because we’re afraid to live well!
We know what it’s like to be in that pain and many of us have lived in that pain for so long. It’s comfortable. We’ve managed. And it’s easier to just keep on managing.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Well, that’s a pessimistic way of looking at things. It’s based in fear. If you fix it, things might be better.
They could be worse at first, but that will probably lead to something even better.
For most of us, living well presents an uncertain future. It requires so much work. It’s exhausting.
It’s also more fulfilling. It creates greater happiness and balance. It opens up our world to new, brighter possibilities.
The Conditions for Living Well as Women in the Modern World
When I sat down to think about what I want to write about and what information I want to share with you this year, I asked myself a simple question:
What does living well in the modern world even look like for women?
First of all, it’s not the 1950s.
Second, not only are we trying to juggle the demands of family and work, but we’re working more AND subjected to increasing pressure from peers to be even more present as moms, wives, friends.
Third, our culture doesn’t necessarily support built-in childcare options as we probably don’t live near grandparents or family members that can pitch in and the costs associated with childcare (or dog care) aren’t something to take lightly.
And finally, all of us have our own individual, unique ideas about what it means to live well, which means that one prescription does not fit all.
But what I can say is that living well for most people involves a personalized, customizable, flexible combination of the following tenets:
- Eating well
- Nourishing self-care
- Developing a spiritual practice for self growth
- Creating intentional time for family and friends
All of these things also much meet the conditions for living well in the modern world:
- It must be CONVENIENT
- It must be relatively QUICK
- It must be easily ACCESSIBLE
- It must be TRULY GOOD FOR YOU
- It must be NOURISHING (it will make you feel better)
That’s a lot to take in. And it can be hard to change our ways to meet these needs.
In Ayurveda, the concept of balance is an interesting one. The entire point of Ayurveda is to create a more peaceful, balanced life. When something goes out of balance, we course-correct to get back to balance. The thing is, there is never a perfect homeostasis. Something is always out of balance.
Imbalance happens from a combination of things, including external stressors like a project at work being a pain in the ass. Internal stressors like the food that we ingest that is not nourishing causes imbalance too. And adopting a sedentary lifestyle (or watching TV because we have no energy at the end of the day to go to the gym) doesn’t help either. Even the weather can throw us off balance – snow, wind, and cold anyone?
The point is, it’s an endless, almost pointless battle, to find balance if you’re looking to maintain a perfect homeostasis at all times. I’ve talked about this before in some of my podcast episodes, but it’s important to reiterate.
In the past, I’ve been adamant that balance is still something we should strive for, even though it’s “impossible” to attain and maintain.
I’m going to soften and slightly alter my position on this one.
Instead of striving for balance, I think we should strive for nourishment instead.
That can come in so many different ways, through a combination of tiny shifts and changes throughout the day, most of the time fun.
It lowers the expectations and helps us take some of the pressure off.
The Only Rule for Work/Life Nourishment
Most importantly of all, as you strive for nourishment in 2015, you must have compassion for yourself.
Because there will be days when you fall off the bandwagon.
There will be days when there is too much to do and you skip your meditation. And the next day it’s easier to skip it again until 2 months later you’re scratching your head wondering why you feel so frantic and wishing you had the time for a meditation practice.
You must shake it off and let it go instead of beat yourself up about it.
You won’t be perfect.
And I don’t expect you to be.
Build Your Routine for 2015!
Starting next week, I’ll be sharing with you a special mini-course on creating healthy habits for 2015. I’m calling it: Build Your Routine for 2015 and it’s totally free.
When we habitualize, ritualize, and prioritize, (lots of izing), healthy activities that nourish us, then we can confidently move forward on our path to live well in the modern world.
That’s my promise to you in 2015. To offer you nourishment every week, through practices, programs, classes, and workshops that will help you implement healthy activities into your already busy and stressful life.
Here’s to living well in the modern world.
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