Putting on the Brakes: The Balancing Trick!
I see lots of clients in my therapy room, many seeking a way to be happy. Some are desperately trying out different things, moving from one thing to another, in order to achieve their goal, but with nothing working. These clients can often get frustrated by this lack of progress despite all the effort they are putting in.
I advise them that sometimes you need to put the brakes on in order to get started! That may sound crazy but stick with me and I will explain.
One of the hardest thing to do with clients is get them to stop and take stock of their situation, to reflect on the reasons why they feel as they do and exactly what will make them happier; they are racing off in all kinds of directions without a full understanding of what it is they want to achieve or how. We all want to be happy or happier but we really need to understand what this means before we can achieve it. Every single person’s “happier” will be different for them.
So put the brakes on! Slow down or stop otherwise all your effort can be wasted. Let me use a car as a metaphor…
Before you set out for a drive you need to have some idea where you are going. You will also have to have some idea of where you and your car already are. Once you have worked out where your A and B are you will then need a route between them; whether that means using a road atlas, a satnav, or asking someone for directions each of us has our preferred option.
But even once you know where you are coming from and going to, you need to make sure the car is in good working repair; flat tyres get you nowhere. You also need to make sure you have enough fuel for your car for the journey, a quarter of a tank of petrol may be plenty to go to the local shop, but if you are driving across the country you will likely need to fill up.
Once underway you need to have a speed where you can feel in control; go too fast and you’re likely to crash and injure yourself and damage the car, go too slow and you can get frustrated and the “I will never get there” creeps in!
And of course, if you never even switch on the engine you will never reach your destination and what a shame that would be.
We are so keen to make changes and get on with things we forget to stop and think. Common sense is there but often we forget to apply it. Going too fast is a mistake we all make, even me! Often clients need to find what is missing that will make the difference, and for many clients it’s the brakes!
Some people may be depressed, de-motivated, stuck and wanting to make changes but not being able to find the energy or get-up-and-go to get started. But even for these people putting the brakes on may be a good idea, it just may be that they need to put the brakes on for another part of their life. Perhaps they lack motivation or energy because they are working too hard at their job, or maybe a relationship, be it with a partner, friend or sibling, is proving overwhelming. Sometimes we need to reign in our efforts in other areas so that we have the energy to make changes that will make us happier in the long term.
If we know when and how to apply the brakes we can find something really important that can keep us well, balance! If we can find the balance we have a much better chance of achieving better emotional and physical health and achieving a better quality of life.
We are not machines we are humans and we can change our habits and learn new ones but the balance has to be right. It takes time and hard work but more importantly balance and knowing when to hit the brakes so you stay in control of that car!
No Balance = failure
- Short term diets don’t work
- Giving a vice up “cold turkey” doesn’t always work
- Mad exercise programmes don’t work
Add Balance for Success
- Eat slightly healthier, but still allow yourself some treats, change something that’s manageable until it becomes a habit
- Try to reduce how often you satisfy your vice, seek support and other activities that can provide a healthier alternative
- Don’t go crazy in the gym just go a few times for half an hour or so until it becomes part of your routine.
Applying the brakes allows us to find the all important magic ingredient that makes things more achievable. If our goals are thought out, properly planned for they are more likely to be successful.
Everyone’s project is different, what you want to achieve may be possible, but without preparation, anticipating the pit falls and gathering the appropriate resources & support we are likely to put in a lot of effort for very little reward and we find ourselves back to square one. This can become a vicious cycle that is hard to break, most people end up in my therapy room when they have tried and tried and can’t make a difference.
I help clients find the balance in all aspects of their life, personal & professional. Sometimes we have to rewrite the rules because they no longer fit. Adjusting along the way and finding your balance can be such a life changing experience.
Over the next few months I am going to share some of my thoughts hints and tips with you to help you achieve a better balance. Not everything will work for everyone, if you like it, keep it borrow it, use it and repeat it, If you don’t then just leave it. Remember it is about putting on the brakes and finding your own balance.
We can be all or nothing creatures but often that doesn’t work; balance works!