Most of us understand that balance is important in life, but few truly understand why. We think about balance as a benefit or a nice thing to have , but I suggest that balance is something most of us will struggle to live without when it absent in our lives. Ask a high rope walker, and he will tell you that balance is the difference between life and death. It is that precarious state of being able to walk the line or plunge to one’s death. Ask any child learning to ride a bike, and she will tell you that without balance you will certainly experience pain and suffering. Again, without balance we fall. Ask some people, and they will tell you that balance makes the difference between a happy marriage and a wrecked home; a successful career and a heart attack. Balance is necessary, not nice to have, not optional. Nevertheless many of us will sacrifice balance without a thought to the consequences. Interestingly the sacrifice is not always a conscious decision. Often imbalance occurs without us actually knowing that it is happening, but imbalance, in my experience, often creates self-destructive tendencies within us, that may not ever occur otherwise.
So what are some categories of imbalance that lead to self-destructive behaviors? I believe there are two: boredom and stress.
But, before I elaborate, I need to pause here and explain something important. I am thinking about what I see active in the lives of men. I don’t know whether women experience the same tendencies in similar situations, I assume they do, but it is not clear to me. I would be grateful for some feedback on this question in the comments below.
Now, back to the causes of imbalance. First, boredom: imbalance occurs when a person feels underutilized, unappreciated, unimportant, and basically bored with life and work. There is this sense that the person feels unfulfilled in life. They may have a dead end job or perceive that their work is unimportant and uninteresting. They may have a difficult family situation where they feel undermined and valueless. This sense of pointlessness and the consequent feelings of boredom are a dangerous imbalance.
Second, imbalance occurs when a person is overly stressed. The stress can be work related our personal in nature, but if it is acute and persistent, it creates a sense of being overwhelmed and out of control. No one likes to feel out of control. The feeling elicits all sorts of responses. Some will run and hide while others fight irrationally and violently to regain control. Some become physically ill, even chronically so to the point that medication is required to help fight back the physical responses to stress.
Like stress, the first imbalance can result in a condition that requires medication to remedy; namely, depression. And here is where we arrive at the self-destructive behavior. When a person experiences these types of imbalance he will look for ways to self-medicate and too often the medicine that promises relief is a poison to the body and the soul…it is destructive, but because it alleviates the feelings of meaninglessness or stress, it is indulged until it eventually destroy us.
So, in order to avoid these tendencies toward self-destruction men must fight off these imbalances whenever they see them arising in their lives. For the unfulfilled – serve someone, invest yourself freely in another person without expectation of reciprocity or recognition. The act of service alone is therapeutic and it confronts the lie of worthlessness that is creating imbalance. For the overly stressed, accept that you aren’t in control, no one really is and then seek ways to lessen the calls for your energy (emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical). Get rid of some of the things that drain these energies in order to create a margin of energy to deal with the things that are truly out of your control. Fight for balance or you will fall as a result of imbalance, and the fall can be devastating, in fact it often is.
What are some ways that you combat these two forms of imbalance your life?