What is the first thing we want to know when the rug is pulled out from under us? Why? Why did it happen? Why did that person do what they did? Why me??? We all do it. It is a very natural response. Yet, ultimately, it doesn’t matter at all why, it only matters what we do after. After the rug has been pulled out from under you, do you move forward, or sideways, or do you try to stay put, or even go backwards? It is impossible to go back, no matter how much we may wish our lives to return to the way they were before. It happened, it’s in the past, and it can’t be undone. You can only live from where you are now after the fact. Despite some appearances, you also can’t stay put. Life won’t let you remain in a static position. More changes keep coming at you, forcing you to keep making decisions. Moving sideways (or laterally) tends to have a bad rap in the business world as corporate types are encouraged to climb up the ladder of success. Yet, far too often, the worker is promoted right out of their area of expertise into a world of endless conference calls, meetings, and paperwork, which can result in chronic stress and health issues. Moving sideways - in business and life - gives you the chance to grow and be challenged, yet remain where your strengths and contributions are best served. It also allows you to test the waters of endeavours you wish to explore without changing your entire life. Instead of moving up a ladder, you are circling up a spiral. Moving forward can be thought of as the great leaps of life such as when you have to make great changes across all areas of your life. While moving forward is considered the ideal, there is a dark side to it as some people use the massive changes involved in moving forward as an excuse to hide from whatever caused the rug to be pulled out in the first place. Whether moving sideways or forward, you know you’re on the right track if you feel a sense of timelessness and relaxing of body tension.
A young student asked the master, “You never lose your balance. What is the secret?” O Sensei, the founder of Aikido replied, “No I am constantly losing my balance. My skill lies in my ability to regain it.” - anecdote source unknown
In North America, we are all constantly striving for “balance” - within our work lives and personal lives, and between our work and personal lives. It is a multi-billion dollar industry with countless books, courses, seminars, videos, gurus, and more who promise the secret to achieving that oh-so-elusive quality of balance. There are also countless circumstances, events, thoughts, feelings, and more in our daily lives that seem to go out of their way to throw us off balance. In fact, some days it seems like the definition for life should be “it will probably go wrong.” Yet, I think one reason why we are continually bombarded by all these things that knock us off balance is because we cling so tightly to the belief that we should “never” be unbalanced so life shows us how false that belief really is. The point is not to achieve total “balance” and then never worry again as you maintain that state, nor is it about beating ourselves up when things happen and we can’t achieve that lofty ideal. Life is really about dealing with what is in front of you, when it is in front of you - not dwelling on what you can’t do a thing about anyway - and finding your balance in that particular moment, and only in that moment. If you get knocked off your feet - physically, mentally, emotionally, or all three (as I’ve been dealing with for the past few weeks) - then land with a bump, know that no matter what took you down will not last forever, and get back up and deal with what is in front of you. When you aren’t trying so hard to be balanced, you will find that you will be able to quickly regain your balance when you lose it. Keep your focus, and while you may still wobble, you won’t be kept down.