One of our greatest challenges as humans has been creating balance in our lives—balance in our relationships, balance between work and personal time, internal balance within our emotional states and balance in our diets and the amount of time that we spend resting and exerting ourselves.
Yet, most recently, I have begun to hear people use the term alignment more often. As I consider the concepts of alignment and balance, it strikes me that each holds a very distinctively different meaning and role in our lives, although I often hear the words used synonymously.
In the dictionary, we see words like “equilibrium,” “stability,” “integration,” “equality” and “steadiness” used when defining balance. For alignment, we see the terms “congruity,” “accord,” “agreement,” “cooperation” and “alliance.”
One way I see we can compare balance and alignment is to also discuss them in terms of being and doing.
When we seek balance, we often are trying to see what we need to be doing in order for the balanced state we desire to be reached. The question is, “How do we create stability, equilibrium and equality between various different elements?” The constant search for balance in our lives has kept us focused on all the things we need to DO in order for this balance to be achieved.
I see alignment as being about the questions:
- Do these elements get along or belong with one another?
- Is the inherency of each element in accord or agreement with the other(s)?
- Do they support one another in a state of reciprocity and growth?
When, for example, we are looking at whether a choice, action or even mindset is in alignment with our own nature, needs and desired experiences, we are looking at the fit and congruency. In this way, I see alignment as more about the being aspect of things. How does this show up in its own state of being, and does that go with the way other things are in their own states of beingness?
So, the question is this: are we now finding that, by focusing more on what’s in alignment with us, we are able to address what we really want, instead of merely seeking balance as a way to create a sense of equilibrium and stability in our lives? Is what we truly seek a balanced life, or is it one of alignment? Perhaps, it is both, but instead of chasing the concept of balance, what if we are meant to put our energy into discerning what will support balance to happen?
What if by choosing alignment, you are able to achieve better balance? If you are making choices that are aligned with what’s most important to and for you, will they naturally produce outcomes that bring about more balance in your life?
Let’s look at where this might play out in different ways.
How do you use and perceive time? Do you often find you don’t have enough time, or are you feeling you are wasting time or have too much of it? Do you experience yourself not having enough time that is your own? Are you stressed most of the time?
In creating alignment with how you use your time, you are able to take back the power you have to make decisions that will best support you, so that you can BE who and how you want to with others. If you don’t currently like how you spend your time and with whom, what changes need to be made that will have you more aligned with who you are, how you are and what you want to achieve?
When it comes to relationships, are you always putting others’ needs and desires before your own? Whether it is the actual requirements or demands of others or conditioned ways in which you’ve learned and practiced co-dependent dynamics, when you do this, you can become disconnected from what you depend upon to keep you balanced and healthy. In this case, you are not making choices and taking action that is aligned with what you need to flourish and maintain balance.
Another area where this can show up is around societal expectations. Most of us have been raised in a culture that has traditionally rewarded hard work and pushed the desired concepts of high performance, accomplishment and the grind. The idea of “being” has often been labeled as slacking off, being idle and ineffective.
As we have seen more people realizing the need to reestablish a new and more aligned definition of “work,” we are noticing a shift in the practice and balance between where and how we exert ourselves and where we step back and allow ourselves to rest, refuel and receive.
In my work, I help clients discover, define and align with their innate value. These are our inherent gifts and offerings that make us most valuable and valued in the world. Having work that permits us to deliver this innate value forward is something that we enjoy, that we find effortless, and that allows us to feel like we are truly making a difference. When we operate in this space, we have the sense we are in our rightful lane and feel more balanced in who we are and how we show up.
Being aligned is about practicing discernment. What do I truly love? What feels nourishing and supportive to me? Where do I experience true reciprocity in my life? Saying “yes” to these things and “no” to those that don’t align is what having healthy boundaries is all about.
Whether we are aware of it or not, most of us exert an exorbitant amount of energy attempting to balance what we believe we should do to fit into conditioned boxes with what we actually desire that is aligned with who and how we are and fortifies and sustains us most.
If you give yourself permission to make aligned decisions, there’s a good chance you will disappoint others. As Don Miguel Ruiz says in his book, The Four Agreements, don’t take this personally. Allowing ourselves to choose what is right for us is also about permitting others to take responsibility for their own needs, choices and actions to create what they desire for themselves. It is not your job to make your choices okay with them, as it is not theirs to make their own choices okay for you.
Perhaps the most important part in all of this is that you realize the choice you make is always your own. You will never make everyone happy, so maybe it’s time to focus more on what makes YOU happy.
This may mean giving something up. This can include people, places, things and habitual ways of acting. It may include something that used to support you that no longer does. As you think about everything in your life, ask if it now serves you, feels aligned and is important to who you are and where you are going.
If you look at where you can create more alignment in your daily thoughts, decisions and actions, I bet you will find the various aspects of your life and experience will begin to also reflect more balance.
Pay attention to any patterns of chasing balance, as if it’s something you need to “get” and don’t inherently have within you. See where you can, instead, focus on already knowing you have this inner balance, which is actually where our sense of true stability comes, and decide to be discerning and make aligned choices that will support you in maintaining it.