"Balance" is a Lie: Trading Grace for Expectations

Throughout my life, both from professionals and in personal relationships, I’ve had this idea of “work-life balance” drilled into my brain. It has been so present, it became a personal mantra for me, and even began a point of discussion between myself and clients for optimal wellness.

Well, I’ve come here to tell you “Balance” is a lie.

Throughout my own life experiences, as well as in my therapeutic work with clients, I have come to understand a much more serving mindset: Strive for growth and give myself grace when I’m unable to. Let me walk this out for you with real life examples:

There’s a tool I like to utilize for self-care and educating others on the benefits of holistic health, addressing all areas of wellness called “The Wellness Wheel” by SAMHSA. This wheel, has 8 categories for addressing our wellness: Emotional, Financial, Social, Spiritual, Occupational, Physical, Intellectual and Environmental.

As I focused on these categories in my own life and to support others in reaching their goals, I quickly realized how unrealistic it was for me to expect myself or them to always keep all of these areas functioning well. I noticed impacts on self-esteem and motivation when areas were being negatively impacted, and expectations were felt that they “should be” better.

What I’ve learned has much better outcomes? Focusing on doing the best you can with what you have, one day at a time, and giving yourself grace for what isn’t going so well. For example: When I have a busy week and realize day 4 I haven’t eaten a home-cooked meal yet, instead of beating myself up for not upholding my physical wellness, I give myself grace. I combat negative self-talk with reality: “You’re right Amanda, you ate out every day this week, but you made sure to feed yourself at every meal. You are also maintaining your other areas of wellness well right now by consistent journaling, improving communication with your husband and practicing mindfulness when feeling overwhelmed.” Yes, I literally talk to myself liked that (mostly in my head, sometimes out loud). We are ALL in our heads every day, take control of the message and you will take control of your life. Make realistic expectations for your goals, praise yourself for the small steps toward progress, and give yourself grace when you need it.

How do you practice being kind to yourself and setting realistic expectations with your wellness?

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