17 Apr 2015

Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance - Part 4 - Helping Others

Got balance? Time to help others

Balance can be complexSo, once one has a good Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance, what to do with it?

Undoubtedly, the first thing to do is to enjoy it. A good Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance brings inner peace. That in itself is priceless.

In all honesty, it is nice when people talk about someone and say "Oh that person is so nice … always with a smile, a breath of fresh air".

When one has a good balance, he or she will naturally attract people around them. And inner peace is infectious. It spreads like a smile.

However, the second object of our attention should be to maintain it. Think about how hard it was to achieve it. Hang on to it. Keep everything stable; meet your needs. Although it is relatively simple to maintain a good balance, it is also mind boggling easy to lose, as mentioned in part 3.

Last, but definitely not least, spread the peace! Help others achieve the same state of joy, peace, and enlightenment. As we are happy deep inside, and we see others who struggle, who suffer, who torturously go through life, it is our duty and responsibility to provide succour.

However, there are some caveats that I would like to share. Some dos and don'ts that I have learned from my own experiences (which often means that I have learnt from my own mistakes).

Dos

  • Someone on a journey to a Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance needs to talk, talk, talk. So for those who have achieved stability the rule is simple: listen, listen, listen! 
  • Empathise. It was a difficult journey to get to a Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance, and a great part of it would have been achieved because someone empathised with us. We have to do the same 
  • Be honest. Do not allow someone on their journey to a Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance to hide away from their own truths, or to make excuses. If we do, they will not achieve their goal 
  • Keep the balance. When surrounded by negative emotions it is important to take time to recharge. 

Don'ts

  • When I say empathise, I mean exactly that. However, when we are helping someone else, they will be full of negative emotions. It is very important to put limits on how much of their feelings we allow to enter our inner selves. If we take on their negativity we will lose our balance, and then won't be able to help anyone any longer. Take a break when needed, but without making them feel that they are a burden 
  • Do not judge, or comment. Everybody's journey is unique. They are the ones supposed to talk; we are supposed to listen. 
  • Do not force opinions or perspective. Again, it is not our journey, it is theirs 
  • Do not lose our own balance! 


This brings me to the conclusion of this article. I often refer to it myself, on those occasions when I need to take my own advice. We all sometimes lose focus, and we all need occasionally to remind ourselves who we are. I hope it can also help someone else find their Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance.



10 Apr 2015

Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance – Part 3 - What if we don't gain balance?

What if we lose, or never gain this balance?

In the previous post, we looked at why it is helpful to fulfil the needs of all the facets of our being, and I argued that once achieved this Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance, it is relatively simple to maintain. This implied, however, that it is not particularly easy to achieve in the first place.

When we talk about gaining or regaining composure, whether one is trying to regain this balance or to achieve it for the first time, they face a similar struggle. The only difference is that those who have never gained equilibrium will consider it a kind of "holy grail"; instead, those who have lost it will know that it is possible, it is achievable, and it is beneficial.

Firstly, let us consider what can cause someone to lose or never gain a Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance.

In my experience, this can be caused by many factors. Something like abuse, neglect, a co-dependent relationship, losing one's job or home. Sometimes even just prolonged contact with someone with a very negative energy (i.e. someone without balance, or who has experienced abuse, neglect, a co-dependent relationship, or lost their job or home) can have devastating effects to our own inner peace.

How do we deal with it?

Even in the most extreme cases, the starting point is always to meet the needs of all four facets of ourselves, as mentioned in part 2. This must include a deep analysis searching for the causes and possible solutions. As mentioned in part 1, “contemplating one’s own situation, and mustering the willpower” necessary is always the first step.

Talk, talk, talk

The one thing I found helps in bringing it all together is talking! Talk, talk, talk, and then talk some more. Finding someone who has the time and the care, and who does not judge is essential (failing that writing could help too!)

Talking affects at least three (if not all) of our inner facets: Mental-Emotional-Spiritual, which in turn then aid the Physical facet. This is because when talking, we do the following:
  • We verbalise. It is incredible how different things sounds when we say them compared to when we think them (Mental facet) 
  • We rationalise and analyse. Hearing ourselves saying something, rather than having a distant voice rumbling in our head, can help us understand what we actually think (Mental facet) 
  • We externalise. We push our thoughts and our emotions outside of our inner selves (Emotional facet) 
  • We share. A problem shared is a problem halved, right? (Emotional and Spiritual facets) 
  • The listener will preferably be empathetic and sympathetic, which will make us feel better (Emotional, Spiritual, and potentially Physical facets) 
In part 1 I gave an example how this work on a small scale, with a little issue. The interesting thing about talking is that it works exactly in the same way on a big scale. With big problems, it just takes a lot more talking.

What is insanity?
As I mentioned in part 2, many psychologists and counsellors will recommend therapy. And this is the reason why therapy works. For those who cannot have those necessary meaningful conversations they need with their friends or loved ones, therapy is an excellent alternative. Sometimes a necessary one.

What is therapy if not talking? Talking, analysing, and delving deeply and honestly into which needs are to be met; and talking more about how to meet those needs with a friendly, sympathetic, and helpful listener.

Honesty

I mentioned honestly in the last paragraph. This brings me to second attribute essential to gaining or regaining balance, which is Honesty. By honesty, I mean the ability to look inside ourselves without hiding anything from ourselves, no matter how painful, shameful, or unpleasant what we find is.

This second attribute is more difficult than the first one. When someone has been having a hard time for a while, they do not want to relive their pain. They want to obliterate it from their minds and from their memories. They believe that if they forget they will feel better.

However, as I mentioned in part 2, Emotions grow and fester, particularly negative ones. From anger comes hate, from sorrow comes desperation, from pain comes agony, and so on.

Journey

All in all, finding inner peace can be a long a painful journey. Particularly for those who have experienced suffering in their lives. But it is definitely worth it. A good Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance brings contentment, it allows one to enjoy life, and it allows one to face whatever life throws at them.

Not only, if one has inner peace, one will also have an aura. Like anger, peace is contagious, it spread to all those around us. The joy that we feel will bring forth more contentment, and will help us gain and maintain relationships that are more fruitful, fulfilling, and satisfying.

Next steps

So, when we achieve inner peace and a good Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance it will be time to help other achieve the same. Which will be the subject of the next and final post on the subject.


5 Apr 2015

Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance – Part 2 - What does it mean?


What does Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance mean?


Beauty of a cloudy sky


In the previous article of this miniseries, we had an overview of what balance in one’s life is, and looked at how to restore Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) integrity after having a fight with one's boss; but we did end pondering on how one can restore this balance when the issues are long-standing and deep-routed.

I know my psychologist friends are already whispering "therapy and anti-depressants" … well, I certainly agree with them that in some instances these may be helpful. However I would like to consider in more details what generates this Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance of which I am so enthusiastically confabulating.

To put it quite simply, it is exactly what the words indicate: we need to meet the needs of our Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) facets. Of each and every one of them. Without fail. Let us consider them briefly one by one

Spiritual

I will start from Spiritual, as this is possibly the most abstract and hence difficult one to articulate.

Spiritual means many different things to many people. Spiritual is really whatever lets one feel in touch with the more esoteric and ethereal part of their perceptions, something eerie, out-worldly, more powerful than us, and yet benevolent. To some a sunset or a landscape may provide a spiritual experience, while other might prefer the formalities of meditation or prayer.

Whatever it is, we must never forget that it is a very important part of our wellbeing. Due to the busy lives we lead, it is often easy to forget to meet our spiritual needs.

Emotional

Another difficult subject is discussing Emotional needs.

We live in a society where we can easily feel that we have to suppress our emotions to survive. We must be professional at work. We have to be jokers with our friends. We have to look after the emotional needs of our loved ones, particularly the little ones. When people ask "How are you" we know they don't really want to be bothered with our problems, and sometimes we just assume that they are not interested. And sometimes emotions are too raw, so much so that we want to hide them away.

Again, we must not forget our emotions. Although it is not always appropriate to show them, it is always important that they do not remain undealt with, and must never be allowed to fester.

Emotions grow and gnaw at one’s mind, particularly negative ones. From anger comes hate, from sorrow comes desperation, from pain comes agony, and so on.

Mental

The last two items were really about soothing. They deal with pacifying our inner selves. The next two are about challenge. Our Mental and our Physical needs include challenge.

An active mind is always more willing to accept new difficult situations, and will be more readily apt to provide solutions, options, and a more positive outlook on whatever life throws at us.

Yet, after a long day at work, who wants to challenge their mind? Slouch on the couch, have a beer, watch some dumbing TV show, and let apathy take over.

While that might be soothing, it is not the role of our mind to sooth us. Looking after our emotional and spiritual needs will sooth us. Our mind likes the challenge. Hobbies, or pursuing an interest, reading, and even games can help keep an active mind, and can be fun too!

Physical

It is the same with our bodies. We need to keep active and healthy.

In the example above, where I slouch on the couch, again, that would be soothing to my body. And at the risk of being repetitive, looking after our emotional and spiritual needs will sooth us. Our body likes the challenge.

I am not talking about running a marathon every week, or playing competitive sports. Just general activities, like running, hiking, yoga, or more if one likes.

Aside from the fact that exercise can have a meditative effect (i.e. help meet our spiritual needs), a healthy body is always more willing and ready to take on the challenges that life throw at us without giving us palpitations, or bad side effects whenever something turns sour.



To conclude this short analysis, it will be evident now why we need to keep a balance between all these aspects of ourselves.

Life is hard. It will always throw something negative at us. Ensuring that all our needs are met will ensure that we can cope with the challenge, and are at peace with ourselves.

Also, it will also be clear that it is less challenging, once achieved, to maintain, and retain the balance, than it will be to restore it, or gain it in the first place. I will discuss this in my next post.



3 Apr 2015

Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance - Part 1 - What is balance?

What is balance?

I guess throughout my life I have been quite lucky as no matter what experiences I have gone through, I seem to have naturally been able to maintain some kind of balance, a level-head , and to be relatively constantly at peace with myself.

As I got older, and as life (family, career, etc.) has taken a more and more demanding role, however, I have noticed that maintaining some kind of equilibrium becomes less and less natural, and takes more and more effort.

For example, in the past year alone this “natural” unflappability has been shaken to the ground a good few times, which have required concerted endeavours to restore to an acceptable level of composure.

Obviously being older and wiser has no meaning unless we learn to analyse and discern why things happen in life, and take opportune action to remedy whatever requires resolution. It must be noted that steps can only be taken after reflection, and once a degree of will power is gained. Without the latter two, it is almost guaranteed that anything we chose to do will lead to failure. As such, it will contribute to whatever sense of dissatisfaction, sadness, and even depression we may already be experiencing.

This article is intended to share what has helped me, and still works for me in my times of need. Although I have noticed, when sharing these ideas with other people, that they have been useful to them too, it is in no way intended to provide a solution that will work for anybody or everybody else’s. Particularly if action is not preceded by contemplating one’s own situation, and mustering the willpower required to undertake the activities discussed here.

So how does one achieve (and maintain) a Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance?

It is probably best to start by assessing what balance is. Balance is stability.
Sometimes it's easy to maintain balance

As the image on the left shows, if we add something on one side, we need to put something on the other side too to retain that parity. Similarly, if we take something out of one side, we need to either remove something on the other side also, or add something else to the side where we removed that something.

As a practical example, let us look at the "life-work" balance. If hours of work, or stress (for instance) increase in one's work life, i.e. something is added to one side of the scale, one needs to compensate on the other side. Something like extra sleep at the weekend, spending quality time with loved ones (over-eating or over-indulging is certainly not be recommended as it would likely tip the scale even further by adding weight to the wrong side!) can actually restore the equilibrium.
Sometimes it's difficult to maintain balance


The situation, however, becomes a little more complicated on a 4-ways scale. As shown in this other picture to the right, it is easy to see how delicate the equilibrium is in such a situation. Just the smallest change in any of the four plates can throw balance into disarray and take considerable effort to counterbalance.

We are somewhat more fortunate in real life than the example in the picture, as the four Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) states are much more closely intertwined then in the picture. Often taking action focused on one of the aspects will also help with the other three.

Another practical example: let us say one has an argument with their boss. They become angry, the heart start pumping, stress become all but too evident, feel tired and definitely upset. Now that person goes to a friend, and talks about their problem. If the friend is receptive and supportive, the blood pressure will lower, the head will cease to throb, and will feel more at peace with themselves.

It is easy to see how one single action, talking to the friend, actually touches on all four Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) states.

Obviously if we just talk about a fight with one's boss, restoring one’s composure can be relatively simple.

What happens if what is affecting the balance is more long-term and deep-rooted? Something like abuse, neglect, losing one's job, or home, or anything that a simple chat with a caring friend cannot resolve?


As this is now becoming a long article, I will discuss that point in my next one; please keep reading by using the links below.