When I was a kid, I remember my only concern when I got sick was how soon could I go out to play again. Recently though, each time I feel a severe illness setting in, my mind wanders towards considerations of this being my final moments. To date, the panic has not yet set in. Inevitability, although I may resist it initially at times, I find myself more inclined to embrace it and consider the options for my response instead.
Often, I try to trace my steps back to where I lost the balance in my life that led up to this moment of disruption. Illness, for me, has always been a sign that something is out of proportion in my life rather than being the victim of some external force in the universe. Yes, there are times when something deliberate external to my being afflicts me, but at those times I find that if I maintain my focus on balance, the impact with which it affects me is significantly less than most others that are exposed to similar circumstances.
More than anything else, I’ve found that acceptance of my contribution, or lack thereof, towards a given situation dissipates the unhealthy internal stressors that threaten my health or emotional wellbeing. The unnatural but common response is to defend ourselves against possible guilt in a negative outcome. So when we find ourselves faced with trying circumstances in our lives, we are most often inclined towards asking that repugnant question of ‘Why me?’. I could never figure out the logic that warrants such a question.
When we ask ‘Why me?’ we automatically imply that we’re underserving of what we’re experiencing, which suggests that we have an assumption of innocence. Worse than this, we also imply that it is perfectly acceptable for it to happen to someone else, because again the assumption is that they must be more deserving of it than we are. It assumes that we’re angelic in our ways, eternally sincere in our commitment to every relationship we participate in, and fully informed of the choices we’ve made, all of which have been made with utmost benevolence and wisdom. Yeah right.
We’re self-indulgent and selfish by nature. We look to the world and demand that it creates for us what we need, without first considering what we need to contribute to the world so that it has the capacity to offer what we all need. Wow, that’s up in the clouds even by my standard, so let me try to make it more practical than that. Choice is that horrible thing we have when it doesn’t work out in our favour, but it’s something we jealously defend when it does. Right there is the crux of balance.
Acceptance of the outcomes of the choices that we make, regardless of how good or bad those outcomes are, determines how healthy our response will be to the impact it has on our lives. Balance doesn’t just come from being a good person while not considering where you’re investing all that goodness. Nor does it come from living passively and waiting for others to uplift you. It comes from appreciating what we have, and then consciously utilising those resources and opportunities towards achieving a better state than the one we’re in. Towards achieving a better state than the one we’re in. That is what is important.
Far too often we focus on utilising what we have to simply protect or defend what we have. Then we bemoan the fact that others keep getting the good breaks in life while we continue to struggle just to keep our heads above water. We embrace fear before we embrace our strength because the repercussions of negativity are always more tangible and memorable than success. When we succeed at something, unless it is of a particularly notable achievement, we assume that it was merely deserved or expected.
It’s as if we have a desired circle of influence that we define for ourselves. The healthier our self-esteem, the larger that desired circle until our self-esteem outgrows our abilities and that circle then reflects our arrogance instead of our influence. This is similar to what we see with misguided political leaders that destroy countries in their insistence to wield the power that they have been flirting with for so long, while refusing to acknowledge that they lack the competence to do so effectively. The same principles apply in our own lives.
Theory aside, balance escapes us when we try to escape reality. The fear of accountability drives our behaviour more than we realise. That fear is not always an aversion to accountability. In fact, I’ve often witnessed it being an inclination to assume accountability for the choices of others. This is a double-edged dagger for many reasons the most important of which is that it results from either a self-loathing, or an inflated ego. The self-loathing drives us to assume accountability for the negative outcomes that result from the poor choices of those around us, leaving us to question our significance in their lives because we couldn’t influence them differently. The inflated ego tells us that we are accountable for the success that others enjoy simply because we played some miniscule role in setting them on the path that they eventually pursued.
Finding balance starts with being self-aware. That self-awareness must be accompanied by a sense of accountability for the current state we find ourselves in relative to the choices we made that caused us to arrive at this point. Once we get that right, our choices become more informed, and more effective because suddenly we’ll be focused on choosing to act in ways that we have good reason to believe will be effective towards achieving a consciously chosen outcome, rather than simply choosing to respond to avoid a negative outcome.
Our bodies are vessels of expression before anything else. Whether you consider the soul to be independent of the body, or you consider your seat of intelligence to be in the brain, either way, that source of intelligence and intelligent choice directs the body to express in due proportion. When we turn that intelligence into a harsh self-criticism, we effectively instruct our bodies to act against ourselves, which results in ailments that are a result of our own thought processes rather than external interference.
What we often miss is the fact that when we live under duress of our own minds, we weaken our ability to resist the harmful effects of the environments in which we exist. This completely undermines all our efforts to want to improve the state of our lives, while we sabotage ourselves before even setting out, eventually believing that fate dealt us a bad hand. Fate is what we make of it. If we didn’t have the power to choose, or for rational thought, we could justifiably blame fate for every woe in our lives. However, I believe that coincidence is not a chance occurrence. It is the fortuitous alignment of events that result from the collective choices of us, which presents opportunities that we would otherwise not have access to. How we perceive those opportunities, relative to our belief in our ability to influence its outcomes, determines whether they are wasted experiences, or moments that add value to our lives.