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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

Balance, Balance, Balance...THUD!

Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Power Poses.

Research by Amy Cuddy, social psychologist and author, and others, suggests that how we position our bodies may affect how we feel. It appears that expansive poses (e.g., arms up in a sort of "V") may help bring about an increased sense of confidence and well-being. (To those of you who attend or have attended services in certain types of churches, this stance may look familiar to you!) Conversely, more collapsed poses (e.g., leaning over or drooping inward) may lead to decreased confidence.

You may have heard that at one point these "postural feedback" claims were considered controversial--here's a good summary article about that and why further research seems to validate Cuddy's original claims. Her research rings true for me--I always feel a little stronger, more centered--and more peaceful--when I follow her suggestions. Here's the condensed version of Amy's original TED talk, and the full talk.

Balance, Balance, Balance...THUD!

The other night as I was trying to go to sleep, several words floated up through my half-conscious mind. They seemed important somehow so, groaning softly, I reached through the dark for the pad of paper I keep by my bed, jotted them down, then slipped back into semi-consciousness.

As a writer, I often find that interesting words or thoughts, new plot developments and snatches of dialog drift through my head as I try to go to sleep. If I don't write them down as they arrive, they tend to disappear into the ether.

When I looked at that piece of paper the next morning I saw the following: true gifts, humility, self-confidence, grandiosity. Oh, okay. These are issues and traits I'm struggling with as I seek to be and serve as my authentic self in this crazy world.

Initially I thought of those words as four points that I could play with for balance, as if I were standing on one of those circular "balance boards" used in physical therapy, and by athletes in training, to increase coordination and strength. These boards rest on a half-sphere so they can roll every which way, kept in some kind of elusive equilibrium by your shifting weight. One of the manufacturers calls it a "wobbleboard" which may be more accurate. At least when I get on one.

I soon realized that only three of those phrases I wrote down in the dark describe modes that, together, help me find balance: self-confidence, awareness of true gifts, and humility. Grandiosity is, instead, one of the places I fall into when I get out of balance and--THUD!--drop the rim of the circle down against the floor. Or fall off.

In fact, grandiosity (too much self-confidence and not enough humility) is not one of the ways I tip out of balance very often, though I certainly do go there on occasion. But I'm much more likely to slip into self-deprecation (not enough self-confidence and/or too much humility) or anxiety (not enough self-confidence and/or not recognizing or appreciating my true gifts). Or expecting myself to do things extremely well that have nothing to do with my true gifts.

(Maybe "grandiosity" appeared, in part, because we've all had to deal with it, ad nauseum, over the last four years. But now, thank heavens, its looking more like self-confidence paired with humility will be more the mode of the day.)

Once the board thumps down to the floor, it can take a real effort, or a series of carefully executed moves, to get it back up and rolling again, at least if you are not athletic. But hey, that seems to be what life is about. All of us are out of balance some of the time; some are way out of balance a lot of the time. Balance, balance, balance...THUD! That's probably most of us most of the time.

Sometimes, tired of all the thuds, I just get off. Which is totally reasonable."That stoopid board!" some part of me says. It's good to know when to take a break.

There may be lots of other words each if us could put on that circle as we try to balance our lives. Or maybe we are all on lots of different balance boards at the same time: vocation, relationships, spirituality...trying to balance them all individually and with each other. You can play around with this metaphor quite a bit.

In any case, with practice I can get stronger, more coordinated, more balanced. I will never be an athlete. But sometimes I do find some liquid stability, swaying gently with a practiced rhythm, simply accepting myself, maybe even laughing when I slip off the circle or go THUD.

I also try to remember that most other people are wavering around as they try to find some kind of equilibrium in their own lives. And to cut them a little slack when they go THUD as well! That's part of my balance.

Wishing you equilibrium, some rest, and laughter when you thud.

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Amy Cuddy, Washington Speakers Bureau

Boy, Fat Brain Toys

Back pain, Fit & Me

Dog, FITpaws (yes, there really is a balance board for dogs!)

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