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Your First Responsibility is Your Balance

by Rob Brookler

The normal challenges in life – surrounding our work, our families and relationships, our goals and creations – will make demands on our energy and will require an amount of our resources and focus. When these external situations become unbalanced – as they certainly will from time to time – they will tend to draw more from us. And because these situations are important to us, when that crisis or “rocky” patch does come, our initial reaction may be to jump into the situation with all our energy, in an effort to “fix” it.

While understandable, this approach is much more likely to draw us off-balance than to re-establish balance in the situation. In pouring all our energy into the situation, we often succeed primarily in exhausting ourselves. Often we allow a difficult situation gradually (and literally) to draw us away from ourselves and out of our center. And when we are pulled away from ourselves, we will quickly become depleted and fragmented. And in this depleted, unbalanced state, we cannot properly support ourselves … let alone the troubled situation around us.

Hold balance to create balance

In fact, it is at those times when difficulty surrounds us that we must be most economical and wise in “spending” our energy … and most aware of maintaining our own balance. Indeed, it is only by holding our balance that we truly bring balance to a situation around us.

It’s a bit like being the anchor in a storm. We must be careful not to get caught up in the waves. We must resist getting pulled into all the emotion, battle, blame, and fear that is often triggered by an “unbalancing” event. It’s not that we don’t care about the situation; quite the contrary. We are simply using our energy wisely and maintaining our balance in order to help re-establish balance around us. 

‘If you really cared about this, you’d be more upset!’

This is a particularly ironic statement, and one we’ve all heard (… and probably used) from time to time. But being upset and panicked rarely helps a difficult situation. Troubled circumstances can certainly be upsetting and often polarizing, at least initially. Again, difficulty usually triggers panic and breeds fear. We must to some extent expect this very “human” response – both in others and in ourselves – and be understanding. But while this fear and polarization is understandable, we certainly don’t want to get our energy and resources behind it.

Indeed, drama, battle, and ego are great “consumers” of energy. Nothing bleeds our resources faster … and with less return. So, if the battle and drama is raging around us, we are wise to keep a bit of separation and reserve our resources (while holding balance).

Now, separation does not mean indifference and insensitivity. Being indifferent and remote in response to problems (particularly in a “relationship”) is simply a more passive way of battling, and we may well give the impression that we don’t really care.

The wise and caring approach is for us to remain present, to understand that panic and fear currently prevail, and to nonetheless keep our own balance (… the anchor in the storm). We do participate, but not in the fear. Once the fear and panic begin to subside, we can step back in with our resources and support balanced, constructive action.

Difficulty does not equal crisis

In moving out of this fear “phase” and regaining balance in response to difficulty, it’s important to understand that all endeavors will from time to time encounter “bumpy” roads. All situations – from personal relationships to business ventures to global states of affair – will, as they evolve and grow, necessarily move out of balance before they re-establish balance. This is simply the dynamic of growth and transition.

How smooth these inevitable transitions are depends on the overall balance within the situation. And it is by maintaining our own personal balance, that we support that overall balance and aid in the recovery.

Allocating our energy, knowing our limit

So, excluding emergency situations, which we’ll address shortly, our first responsibility in any situation is our personal balance. We can look at it this way. We have a certain allotment of energy and personal resources. A portion of this total allotment is absolutely necessary to maintain our own balance. If called upon, the remainder of this allotment may be contributed to external situations … but no more than this.

How do we know when we’ve exceeded this limit? When our efforts in support of a situation begin to deplete our personal strength. When we feel an internal exhaustion that undermines our basic physical and/or emotional stability. When we become so tired that we cannot keep from being dragged further away from ourselves and further into the fray. When we’ve reached this point, we’ve ceased to serve either ourselves or the situation. It’s time to stop.

We, of course, will need to monitor ourselves and get familiar with the particular signs that tell us we’re nearing our “limit.”

Knowing when it’s not our turn

And what if we’ve reached this limit and the situation remains troubled and unbalanced? Then we’ve done our proper share. Be patient. Re-establishing balance may depend on other factors and other participants … and often may simply require additional time before all the components find their balance. Our first responsibility is finding and maintaining our balance.

One very important distinction. Maintaining our balance in the situation does not mean maintaining our “control” of the situation. One sure way to seriously exhaust ourselves and our resources is attempting to “take control” of an unbalanced situation (and all the participants), and try to force it into balance on our own. Trying to impose an immediate balance on a situation that actually needs additional time and adjustment to balance, will not only drain us, but also often serves to create new and stronger waves to fuel the storm.

When the need is truly urgent …

When we are called upon to handle a true emergency situation, we will probably need to “dip into” our personal reserves of energy. When this is truly our role, however, we will discover that we will have additional support and energy to handle both the emergency and our own balance.

Still, emergency situations are, by nature, short lived. If we are in an ongoing situation that is continually in “crisis mode,” this situation is inherently unbalanced and exhausting, most likely founded on fear or perfectionism. If this is the case, we have two choices. We either limit our involvement in a manner that lets us contribute positively without being drawn into this fear/crisis state. Or, if this is not possible or not worth the effort, we must move ourselves out of this situation and find one that is more balanced.

And what of our role in the world?

What of our role in the world, which seems always to be in crisis, and from which we cannot withdraw? In fact, the principle still holds true … and all the more so given the stakes.

Notwithstanding our impulse to leap into action with all our energy and concern in response to a world in distress, the best and most powerful service we can do for the world is to maintain within ourselves those very qualities we wish for the world. To hold and practice the balance, the peace, the understanding the world seems so desperately to need.

And whatever we do contribute to helping the world, it must be offered in the spirit and energy of these qualities, not at the cost of them … nor at the cost of our balance.


Nothing that is not done in balance can result in balance. It is no coincidence then that by serving our personal balance we also best serve the balance of those people and situations around us. Whether within our smaller or larger worlds, we are part and parcel of the whole. Never underestimate the importance and the power of your own balance.

For a full list of audio meditations to complement this article, click audio meditations home.

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