What is Balance?

What is Balance?

By Jordan Johnson, MA, LPC(WI), LPCC(MN)

I’ve made it a point to attend the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, MN each year for the past decade or more. Not only do I enjoy the (usually) nice weather, I can’t get enough of the food and the hustle and bustle that defines the experience of walking through the fairgrounds. One of my favorite things to eat is the Apple Dumpling and Ice Cream near the Environmental building. Usually my family splits the treat and we each enjoy the few bites we get before heading next door to watch the lumberjack show. If you have been to the MN State Fair (or perhaps others as well), the lumberjack show is a must-see event. Lumberjacks and lumberjills compete to do chainsaw carvings, speed cuts, pole climbs, and, my favorite, the log roll.

Now, I’ve never been on a round pine log that’s floating in the water. I’ve certainly never tried to stand on one. But these fearless athletes hop up and not only stand, but actually make a sport of turning the log with their feet while a competitor does the same on the other end of the log. Many times they both roll the same direction, but sometimes one of them is able to bring the log to a stop and switch the direction that the log is spinning. This causes the other person to momentarily fall backward or forward until they catch their balance. Then the foot-race continues until one of them falls in the water and the other is the champion.

Balance is an interesting concept when you think about your physical body. Very early in life we learn to walk on two legs instead of crawl, tripping and falling often, but soon we’re running and jumping and perching on the end of a couch or on the branch of a tree without any problem. We learn how to ride a bike, but we fall a few times before we get the hang of it. Once our body learns to balance, that knowledge stays with us for a lifetime. Thus the saying, “It’s like riding a bike!”

Sometimes in our lives we need to find our balance in other ways. Our secure footing shifts in some way, causing us to fall. Maybe a loved one passes away. Maybe a romantic partner was unfaithful. Maybe we’re overcome with stress from work or home. Any number of things can threaten our ability to stay upright emotionally. Similarly to riding a bike, when we fall down, we get back up again and keep on trying to find what will get us back to feeling centered and balanced.

Balance is all about making small adjustments to new levels of weight or stress put onto you by life events or relationships. These small adjustments make it possible to continue living your life the best you can. Sometimes the path through certain seasons of your life is more difficult. You may be carrying more of a burden, or the path itself may be uneven. In those times, it’s helpful to have the support of another person. When we relate our concerns and burdens to another person who listens and cares for us, we are no longer carrying that load by ourselves. The less we have to carry, the more nimbly we can make the adjustments in our life to respond to change effectively.

Just think of how much harder it would be for our lumberjacks on the log to do their balancing act with full hiking backpacks on their shoulders. Each small adjustment they make in response to the change in their footing would have a larger impact on their center of gravity, meaning it would take much more effort to stay balanced on the log. It would be much more exhausting to maintain that effort to stay up. Just like the lumberjack wearing a backpack, balance becomes much easier when we allow the burdens we are carrying to come off of our shoulders.

Here at Hudson Counseling Services, we believe in the power of listening and caring for each person who comes through our doors. We strive to make each therapy session a safe place to unload the burdens that you may be carrying each week in order to maintain that balance that is sometimes difficult to find in life. So if you are tired of carrying everything on your own and feel like life keeps knocking you down, come find the relief of sharing your burdens with a counselor who cares about you.