One thing at a time

Published 20/05/2021

So the mighty Blurt Foundation tells us in this week’s piece that although things can feel like they are falling apart we are not actually failing. They remind us that life is like a balancing act but, that it is actually really hard to find a proper balance.

Do you ever beat yourself up because you don’t seem to ever be able to balance all of the competing areas of your life?

  • Your ducks – they’re not in any kind of row.
  • You are dropping balls left, right and centre.
  • It all feels too much and as though you’re not doing anything well.

The thing is, there is no such thing as balance. It’s not possible to hold space for more than one thing at a time. It’s not possible to be a brilliant one thing whilst at the very exact time you’re also being a brilliant anything else.

Trying to find balance is like searching for a wonderfully magical mirage that only exists on heavily filtered social media feeds. You know the ones, the ones where you only get to see the achievements and yeeehaaaah moments, the ones that don’t show the sweat, tears, toil, and trouble.

We’re told we can have it all and we can, just not all at once. Life is made up of lots of moving pieces. It’s unpredictable. We’re able to hold lots of different thoughts, wants, ideas and needs. Just not all at the same time.

On our quest to find balance we need to consider the compromise and sacrifice that holding room for all of those different thoughts, wants, ideas and needs, entail. We can be fully present on one thing at a time which means we need to be comfortable with being fully unpresent in other areas of our lives.

It’s those blasted boundaries again. When we seek balance, the boundaries become a bit mashed up because we try to make ourselves accessible to too much in equal measure. Which is contradictory to how we see balance, isn’t it!?

We see balance as this utopia where everything is getting just the right amount of us at just the right time. Balance asks us to juggle, to multi-task, to be able to predict the future, to be at peace with each area of our lives, for it to be smooth-sailing.

And the one thing we know for certain about life, is that it ain’t smooth-sailing. It ebbs, it flows, it blows. It’s not ever linear in the way that this ‘balance’ malarkey would want it to be. Life isn’t a thing that behaves in that way.

Back to these compromises and sacrifices. What’s important about those is that they align with your values. Sacrifice or compromise too much in one area and you feel like a failure. Give too much to another area and you start to feel lop-sided and guilty. Aim for perfection and we’ll put ourselves under so much pressure that we’ll crack.

In the same way we can’t bake a cake as we’re responding to emails. We can’t be fully present in more than one thing at once, our brains just aren’t wired that way. Which means we do need to forgive ourselves for not finding balance, it was never there to find anyway – you’re absolutely not a failure for not being able to find the unfindable.

We do though need to create boundaries and space and contingency plans to allow the things which are important to us, the chance to be graced with our utmost presence. Rather than give everything a slither all at once, see how it feels to be all-in on one thing at a time. With your children, friends, partner? Great, put down the phone, be present and give them your undivided attention. Self-caring? Yay, make sure you’ve communicated boundaries around that time and assert them so you can be fully present for yourself. Work? Same, turn off any distractions and just, well, work. But hold boundaries about when you’re on and when you’re off.

So, remember you can do many things very very well, but you can’t do all of those things well all at the same time. Give yourself a chance to succeed one thing at a time.

Kim Fry
UKSA Welfare Officer