blending for balance: managing the competing claims on our time and energy
Finding time for you. For others. For life… It’s tricky to balance self-care and selflessness. When we focus too much on meeting our own needs, we grow dull to others. But when we live to meet the needs of others, we grow dull to ourselves. In fact, life can grow dull pretty fast when we live out of balance…
While always a work in progress, balancing the people, needs and demands in our life is possible. It occurs there are four quadrants within the circle representing the time and energy we invest in ourselves and others. Pausing to consider how best to blend these four can lead to greater personal happiness, stronger relationships, a more mature community and even inner peace.
It’s a question of balance: intentionally giving (or taking) time from each of the four quadrants in the circle of our life’s time and energy. And blending them… just so, for you!
THE FIRST QUADRANT is where we take time to meet our own needs. Here, we take active responsibility for our core well-being and deep emotions. Whatever brings us joy, we are the ones to make it happen. Quadrant number one is where we foster what only we can foster; where we grow as unique individuals. Truly great (or at least really neat) things can be accomplished when we set aside time for ourselves, by ourselves. Taking time to meet our own needs builds contentment.
Quadrant #1 = taking time to meet our own needs, which leads to growing contentment.
IN QUADRANT NUMBER TWO we extend outwards; making time to meet the needs of others. As we know, meeting others’ needs can be pleasant, uplifting and relational. Or it can be demanding, obligatory and onerous. Whether part of paid work or voluntary effort, serving others sounds simple and noble, but can be complicated.
When it comes to seeking a balanced approach to life, it’s important to manage our time and energy in this area as much as any other. Otherwise, we may feel undervalued, unappreciated, and even burned out. It’s our choice: we can take the initiative to manage our service to others and show up healthy and full of purpose. Or, play the martyr and show up resentful and depressed.
The good news is when we seek to serve others in a healthy, balanced way, we learn to give in a way that doesn’t overwhelm our resources (because we are having our needs met in the other three quadrants). Ultimately, as we learn to serve in a way that doesn’t drain us but sustains us—we are open to growing ourselves, namely in greater compassion for the needs and people around us.
When our lives are in balance, horizons can easily expand.
Quadrant #2 = making time to meet the needs of others, which leads to growing compassion.
THE THIRD QUADRANT is where we allow others to meet our needs. This is where we recognize life is a web: a constellation of mutually dependent relationships, exchanges and ties of all sorts. It is an established social grace to genuinely appreciate (and accept) the service and good works of others on our behalf. Acknowledging our interdependency is a sign of growing maturity, whether in personal or professional settings.
When we allow communal reciprocity to flow through us, we step down from our perch of self-sufficiency and personal competency and make way for others of all sorts to become integral to our success and well-being. This can be a grounding, humbling experience, fostering a community of cooperation rather than a network of competitors. In such a mutually affirming environment, people take risks; they become bold, further maturing and growing the community as a whole.
This is why allowing others to meet our needs is never a selfish (or stupid) thing to do.
Quadrant #3 = allowing others to meet our needs, which matures community personally and professionally.
THE FOURTH, AND FINAL QUADRANT of our circle is where we step back, and let life happen—not doing anything at all. This is when we intentionally allow God to move and trust him to do so. Here, we acknowledge the ever-present, spiritual, unseen aspect of life. We do not seek—in this quadrant—to control, manage or influence outcomes in any particular way. Instead, we seek to rest secure in the knowledge that some things are beyond us; and that’s a good thing.
Without bringing this fourth part—which anchors our lives in faith and trust—into balance, we risk undermining the other three quadrants. Without allowing faith to play its part, we are subject to powerful, inarticulate, forces, such as arrogance and pride, which would undermine our self-care. Or insecurity (showing up as co-dependent behaviour), which would sully our service to others. Or fear of being shamed, which would distort our interdependency with others. Only faith takes care of these hidden needs by shining a brighter light than our own on the path toward personal, interpersonal and spiritual growth. Without an element of faith, we can hardly hope to achieve a healthy balance or blend our active and inactive life-roles successfully.
Quadrant #4 = letting life happen, trusting God, which grows faith and brings peace.
When we live in balance with these four quadrants of our circle, we are bound to find greater contentment; live with compassion towards others; embrace the tenets of maturity and community; and experience spiritual rest.