How Do You Maintain Your Emotional Balance?

I’m in Paris at a conference this week. I was a keynote speaker, which is lovely for my ego.

One of the participants asked me how long I’d been a consultant. I answered, “24 years.” He gave me that look, the one that says, “Really?” with one eyebrow up so high he almost had no forehead. Then, he asked me, “How do you keep your emotional balance?” He paused. “How do you keep going?”

I said, “I don’t always maintain my emotional balance. But, I learned several years ago that I needed to find satisfaction in my work and my life.”

Notice that I didn’t say happiness. For me, happiness is an outcome of doing my best work and finding satisfaction in that work. It’s about living my best life, which means walking my steps every day, writing, and finding satisfaction in my entire life, not just my work.

I spent too many years frustrated. At myself, at the world, and certainly at work. When I became a consultant, I had to define the outcome I could be attached to: delivering the best possible service/product to the client.

I couldn’t be attached to the client’s outcome. I couldn’t (and still can’t!) make my clients do anything. All I could do was offer something useful. I could offer it in any number of ways: coaching, consulting, speaking, writing, teaching, maybe even more. However, I couldn’t be responsible for anyone taking the step that would “guarantee” results.

Each person is responsible for their choices. I can’t make choices for my clients. I can help them see alternatives.

There’s certainly plenty in the world to be frustrated about. I manage that for me, by trying to read to see all perspectives, not just the ones I like, and by not engaging with people who denigrate one side or the other. And, I don’t engage with people who denigrate or bully other people. I’m about respect. Respect for alternatives and for people.

I wish I could tell you I was never frustrated by life. Nope. First, I’m human. Second, I have this irritating vertigo. I’m plenty frustrated. And, I try to look forward to something. Sometimes, that thing is getting off the damn floor after I fall over.

I do retrospect on my life and my work. However, I don’t do it from a beat-myself-up perspective. I do it from the perspective of “what can I learn from this?” Am I perfect at that? Not yet. However, with practice, I get better and better.

That learning, the working through challenges, that’s what helps keep going. It helps me maintain my emotional balance. The learning helps me see my alternatives. I discover what satisfies me.

What works for me, might not work for you. Consider these options:

  • Can you define when you feel balanced? What helped you achieve that balance?
  • Can you identify times you are not balanced? What occurred and what was your reaction?
  • Can you choose a different reaction in these or other cases?

Virginia Satir said, “The problem’s not the problem. It’s our reaction, the coping, that’s the problem.” She was one smart woman.

That’s the question this week: How do you maintain your emotional balance?

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