Off Balance

Tight Rope Walker Off Balance. what “off balance” looks like: vulnerable... out of control... awkward... anxious.

Recently I watched a TV clip about a newscaster taking a try at tight rope walking. She did well, but at one point lost her balance and fell (safely, to the net below.) As I watched, I was struck by what “off balance” looks like: vulnerable… out of control… awkward… anxious.

At one point or another, all of us experience the feeling of being off balance. Major life events such as birth, death, divorce, relocation or unemployment all have the potential to rattle us, leaving us feeling like we are just about to fall. When we encounter these situations, we are likely to:

  • Lose focus
  • Struggle to think clearly
  • Forget important events or deadlines
  • Misplace items
  • Accumulate clutter
  • Lose track of time
  • Increase self-destructive behaviors
  • Procrastinate

All of these reactions are natural as we try to find a “new normal.” However, sometimes these reactive behaviors become persistent habits, leaving us stuck in “chaos mode.”

So how do we recover from a life event in a healthy manner that will serve us well in the future? Here are a few techniques from professional tight rope walkers:

1. Focus on a point in front of you.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by difficult circumstances. In order to move out of this discomfort, it helps to find a place ahead upon which to fix your gaze. Perhaps this is a goal you hope to achieve (e.g. “I’m going to focus on being on time to all my appointments”), or an image of desirable circumstances (e.g. “I want my home/bedroom/office to be a place where I can relax”) Once you have this image, take regular and specific steps in that direction.

2. Hold onto something that grounds you.

Most high wire walkers carry a very long pole which lowers the center of gravity and makes it easier to balance. Everyone needs something to steady to hold onto, such as faith, ritual, routine, exercise, or such combination thereof. Predictability and familiarity provide a counterbalance to the fluctuating circumstances of uncertain times.

3. Listen to coaches and steadying voices.

On a famous walk across the Grand Canyon, professional Nick Wallenda wore an earpiece connecting him to the voice of his coach. Throughout the walk, his coach spoke calmly to him, passing on encouragement, advice, and simple assurance that he was doing fine. We all need this voice in our ear, especially when life is topsy turvy. Find someone you trust and who cares about you, and ask him/her to meet regularly with you (by phone, in person, by Facetime, etc.) Allow this person to steady you until you’ve reached the other side.

4. Don’t rush.

There may be times when you need to slow down or even pause and regroup: maybe you need a new strategy, maybe a fresh wind is blowing and you need to wait for it to calm, or maybe you just need to collect your thoughts. No professional wire walker runs across…. he takes his time, pauses when necessary, is constantly adjusting and is patient. There is no timeline on resilience.

*     *     *     *     *

Unsteady times are a part of life for most of us. While we can’t avoid them, we can survive them, and even come out stronger on the other side.

What helps you regain your balance?

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27 thoughts on “Off Balance”

    1. Thanks for reading, Janine. We all have these times, and they can be rough. Sometimes just acknowledging that we are in the depths can free us from feeling guilty about not having everything in order!
      Seana recently posted…Off BalanceMy Profile

  1. Such great points Seana!

    Thankfully, I haven’t been truly off balance to the point of losing myself or something really destructive. When I find myself having a hard time going back on track though, I just usually talk to myself and bring all the positive thoughts in mind as much as I can. It’s never easy but it can be done. I’d also usually just think of my priority and what made me create a certain goal in the first place.
    Rea recently posted…Rainforest Park Cebu – The AviaryMy Profile

    1. Positive thinking is a terrific tool in times like these!! And we are on the same page about the priority – focusing on something you really want to achieve can get you through:)

    1. Having friends who will provide the support we need is a true blessing and gift! Good ones know what you need to hear, and when you need to hear it. I’m thankful for the friends who do this for me as well:)

    1. Isn’t that the way it always is, Gingi? Everything comes crashing in at once. It’s temporary, but it feels like it will never end. Sending you warm wishes as you navigate through this time – hang in there!!

  2. I often feel very off balance with anxiety – both mentally and even physically if it’s bad enough. I remember in dance class we’d learn to avoid feeling dizzy by focusing on a point in front of us.
    I love the idea of listening to coaches and steady voices, and holding onto grounding things.
    I think not rushing is so key. I often rush ahead just to feel better, but slow and steady wins the race!
    Tamara recently posted…How I Got My Groove Back.My Profile

    1. I also am tempted to try and rush through just to shed the lousy feelings, but then they just creep up again. Friends praying for me and being there helps a lot, as does a certain amount of “busy”, which can give my mind a break. And each scenario is different… so it is about walking steadily through to the other side in whatever way works best for the situation.

    1. I love that idea, Sabrina. Having something to focus in is very “grounding”… it helps us feel steady. That feeling of accomplishment can be something we can hold onto as we continue our way out of the tough time. Thanks for the comment:)

  3. This is perfect for me today. I can’t even tell you how much. I have been forgetful and tired lately and I’m just not on my game. I’m hoping having the break during conference and vacation the week after will get me on track again.

    1. Thanks so much for the compliment, Sarah. I need to remind myself not to rush! I think it is human to want to get away from the discomfort as quickly as possible, but rushing often makes the situation worse in the long run.

  4. Love this! It is so grounding that we all experience this. That alone makes us more normalized. Thanks for sharing what works for all of us.

    For me the physical is most grounding. When I am needing more rest, I know to get in bed a little earlier. It works for me!

    1. Oh yes – rest! I forgot about that one! Taking care of your body is so important in times of stress, and it can be difficult to rest and eat well when life is chaotic. I’m so glad you added this:)

  5. Great tips Seana! i have been going through a slump lately and feeling unmotivated. It’s comforting to know we all go through these times. I have read more comments lately where people are feeling this way. Maybe it has something to do with the change in seasons 🙂 Journaling really helps me get my feelings on paper and out of my head so I can look at things more clearly and sometimes I gain a new perspective.
    dawn recently posted…Mocha Chocolate BrowniesMy Profile

    1. I love the idea of journaling! That is a great way to get some of the thoughts out and clear your mind. I think maybe the slump has to do with the fact that we haven’t had a warm, sunny day since… September??

    1. Thanks so much, Janet. We all go through these tough times, but it is helpful to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel and we will survive:)

    1. I enjoyed your post as well, Marcia!! We all go through these times, and they are both unsettling and upsetting. It is good to know that there is a light ahead, and to have some strategies to keep moving forward:)

  6. What good advice, I especially like the first two. I find it is so much easier to remain calm and focussed with a specific goal in front of me, rather than a million little things I “have to do”. Easy to get overwhelmed with the details. I’ll bear these in mind when our new baby arrives!
    Corlie recently posted…Sidewalk calligraphyMy Profile

    1. So exciting to anticipate the arrival of your baby, Corlie! It’s pretty normal to get knocked off balance with a new baby. But I think you will handle it beautifully.. one day at a time:)

    1. All of us feel like we could “fall” at some point, right Kim? It’s just part of life. But having a few strategies can get us all through those tough times:)

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