Creating a balanced being: Achieving internal and external plasticity
We all have skills & abilities that helped us get to where we are right now. To go beyond that, we need to achieve balance by training what we missed.
I like to think of our inner world as a series of toggles that are set in a particular way depending on who we are, what we learned and what we do. I use toggles in this mental image, because I believe it is possible to access different skills, abilities and even ways of being to achieve a healthy balance that lets us go beyond our expectations of ourselves.
This is what I call: Creating a Balanced Being.
Let me clarify my choice in wording. When I say creating a balanced being, I do not mean becoming a monk and meditating 24/7 and practicing yoga on every other moment of the day (although doing all that can be enriching for you either way). What I mean by creating a balanced being is to let your being expand enough so that you can enjoy both sides of a given spectrum. When I say “creating” this balanced being what I mean is actively and consistently practicing your missing piece to complement your existing virtues.
For this concept, I will draw on an item from Taoism which is part of Chinese culture. This concept is the very famous, but not always understood: Yin-Yang. The Yin-Yang is more than just opposites and opposites within opposites. It carries a particular powerful wisdom about balance that can be observed in its depiction. The Yin holds the Yang and the Yang holds the Yin in place. So much so that we cannot have one without the other, and even in the presence of one, there needs to be a certain balance of energies, attitudes and actions.
“Okay, now please remind me how this helps me?”
To make my point clearer, I want to showcase a couple of hypothetical exaggerated scenarios, so you can get an idea of what a balanced being would be about. However, before I do that, just a reminder to keep the mental image of our inner being being comprised of toggles that can be worked with.
Let us imagine that you grew up in a home where accomplishments were the only way to get any praise. You quickly learned (usually unconsciously) that by getting an A+ at school meant receiving love or attention or even just recognition. The result, you became a A+ student everywhere, missing out on situations that would distract you from the top priority that was measuring your worth with grades.
Fast-forward to the present day and you are a hard working successful individual. You are earning a six-figure salary, you have a wonderful family, you HAVE everything that you ever wanted, BUT you somehow feel unable to connect with your kids other than by measuring their results with expectations. It is your way of showing them love, but they sometimes feel pressured by your words. On the other hand, you realize that you cannot escape work, or rather work cannot escape you. You notice that it has been ages since you fully enjoyed some time off without being connected to work one way or another.
In this scenario you trained yourself and your body to DO-DO-DO, which in and of itself is a wonderful thing. You have created so much and have countless results under your belt. HOWEVER, somewhere along the line you forgot to not take things too seriously, to make time to rest and relax, to choose to do nothing maybe even for just a couple of hours. You forgot to take things slow and to enjoy mistakes.
Here is where creating a balanced being comes in. It is not about rejecting the part of you that you excel, it is about balancing it out with another virtue. This energy of resolve helps you to achieve great results and to remain consistent, but we also need to complement it with the ability to slow down, loosen up and enjoy the moment. So that you keep working hard when you need it and also unwind and enjoy yourself when you can. So that you can challenge your kids to improve themselves, while helping them navigate at their own pace and accepting who they are and what they are offering is valuable outside of your expectations.
Let us imagine that you grew up in an overprotective home with parents who helped you out in whichever way they could. They would always tend to your needs, even when you could do things on your own. They went out of their way to ensure you had everything you needed and more. Even deciding what is best for you, because it is their way of showing their love for you. Fast-forward to the present day and many years have passed, but you find that you are overly cautious about making your own decisions. You prefer to wait for others’ opinions to form your own, and you are even relieved when someone else makes a decision for you. You also find that it is easier for you to adapt to what is needed than to take charge of an action/project. It is also easy for you to work with others, but you rely on others’ leadership to move forward most of the time. You are really good at listening to others, but you have trouble communicating discomfort and standing up for yourself.
In this scenario you learned to accommodate to others, to be adaptable and cautious. However, what you did not learn was how to voice your ideas, concerns and presence; how to take chances. You have the virtue of being adaptable and listening to other people, but you are lacking the virtue of taking risks and leading others. This would be a work integrating leadership and improving your decision-making, while remaining a good listener and being flexible to ideas.
That is why creating a balanced being means HONORING the virtues you possess and complementing them with new learned skills to meet a greater possibility of success.
Now let us be clear that creating a balanced being, does NOT mean that it will only happen internally. Revisiting South-East Asian wisdom once more, in the Yin-Yang, balance is about complementing features to create harmony. Both the INTERNAL and the EXTERNAL need to portray this expansion. The internal, in the way we look at things and respond to life; and the external, in the way our actions become more efficient and aligned with a given task/goal.
In closing this article, I do want to mention that everything in life is like a dance, so do not expect to suddenly become an enlightened, infallible, perfect being that is their best self always. Almost no human being ever gets to be like that. Falling is part of the dance as much as getting up. Creating a balanced being is not about becoming perfect, but rather rekindling your commitment to the ACTION of creating, recreating AND again recreating a balanced being consistently so that you can meet yourself in a wider range of possibilities. It is a about constantly reshaping your abilities, not a destination.