Finding a Healthy Balance between Order and ChaosFeb 01, 2022
Change is not only inevitable but also a necessary constant.
Our world thrives on change, and it relies on the flow of creation and destruction, growth, decay, and regrowth.
As we continue careening through space and time both individually and collectively, we cannot resist our instinctive processes of maturation and transformation.
So if we can’t prevent change, how do we best support ourselves through it?
Oh, the tender touch of a well-balanced transition…
Even from the earliest stages of life, one of the fundamental things we need is a healthy supportive process for transiting from one thing to another.
Transitions are, quite simply, the process by which we navigate from one state, setting, or activity to another.
This applies to everything from morning / bedtime routines to shifting between school and home and also matriculating from one school level or job position to another.
It also includes our process of transiting between one role or position to another, such as shifting from employee mode to motherly duties or shifting from daughter to dance instructor.
As you can imagine, we make multiple transitions each day, dozens each week, hundreds each month, and the list grows exponentially throughout our lives.
These transitions are perfectly normal and we all must go through them but if they're not handled correctly they can be overwhelming and can lead to a tremendous amount of stress.
Fortunately, we have the capacity to develop and utilize specific structures and processes as our way of controlling the chaos of day-to-day and even longer-term life changes.
Meanwhile, most of us have developed such deeply habitual routines and patterns that we don’t even notice our transitions anymore.
In fact, most of us are still operating off the same transition routines that were modeled for us in early life.
Here's an interesting question:
On an average day, how do you feel (what is the emotional tone) of your transition from sleeping to waking?
Do you generally wake up with a soft smile and gently stretch and flow into your wakeful state?
Maybe you’re someone who has hit snooze so many times already that at some point you have to leap out of bed and go from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds flat in order to avoid being late?
Or perhaps you wake up with a slight groaning sound and the wish that you could curl right back up into the cave of your covers, but you can't, so you slowly slither out of bed and zombie your way to the coffee pot?
Or possibly somewhere in between?
Everybody has their own way of getting started with their day, and it's worth being aware of your own patterns because you’re the only one at liberty to change them.
The next question is this:
When you were growing up, how do you remember feeling and moving through transitions with your family in the mornings before school and work?
How about afternoon and evening routines?
Chances are, you are either living with the same old patterns that you picked up from way back then or else maybe you created your own patterns somewhere along the way.
In either case, the important thing to realize is that these transitions are within your control.
If you don’t like the way you feel in those moments, you are at liberty to create a new form of support for yourself.
Whether you need to increase the amount of time devoted to your process so that you can slow down a bit or maybe you just need more structure and support to get things from point A to point B without so much stress.
The fact is, this line of questioning and potential for change applies to any and all transitions in your day-to-day and larger aspects of life as well.
Waking up, morning meal, getting ready for work/school, commuting, getting settled at work/school, taking breaks, midday meal, running errands, picking things or people up, heading home, chores, evening meal, decompressing from the day, and bedtime routines.
These are some of the transitions you might be making throughout any given day and each of them presents an opportunity to either be stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, freaked out, satisfied, relaxed, or even rejuvenated.
Of course, there’s going to be days where you are running late or there’s too much on your plate, but it doesn’t have to be that way for the everyday.
Clearly you have gotten this far, you manage to get things done and get yourself where you need to be, do you really think the stressed-out vibe is helping?
Don’t you realize, you could get just as much done and enjoy it a heck of a lot more, if you were generating a relaxed and trusting emotional state throughout the day?
This is where additional structure can be really helpful, and for those of us who have grown accustomed to “thriving in chaos”, it might be a tough process of getting used to having more structure.
Honestly, I have always rebelled against structure, ever since I was a child.
Procrastination was my middle name and for a very long time I truly believed that I performed better under pressure.
Well, this is actually true, but the problem arose around the fact that I needed to be able to perform more consistently (like every day).
I ended up fooling myself into believing that the only way to succeed was by generating a rapid cycle of pressure in order to keep me moving and operating at maximum performance.
This is how burnout happens and it happened to me many times.
Over the years I have made great strides in reducing that intense pressure to achieve and establishing my own pathway for pursuing my goals.
And yet, I am still and always learning!
Working for myself and working from home have been really helpful for me in reducing pressure from external sources but it's also provided a series of massive wakeup calls for me.
It’s been a long-term work in progress but I just keep realizing that ultimately I am the one who generates and controls the level of pressure (and stress) that I put on myself.
In the past, I believed I was reducing pressure by avoiding structure altogether and to some extent that has helped.
I do still believe there is a need for fluidity and flexibility but the constant juggling just wears me out so I am once again looking to bring more order into my process.
When I think of controlled chaos, I think about a busy train station where there's a million people moving in all directions.
If you didn't have access to a schedule or a map you'd think that place was just total chaos but the truth is there is a tremendous interplay of order and fluidity at work there.
The need for more structure and supportive transitions is coming to light once again and I am on a journey to discover the perfect balance between chaos and order.
I’ll keep you posted and let you know what I find out…
In the meantime, if you have any tips or experiences to share about how you have brought more structure and healthy transitions into your life, I'd love to hear about what has worked for you!
Drop your stories in the comments or send me an email at [email protected]
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