I recently had a conversation with Sam, who has been in a committed relationship for just over two years. One of the biggest challenges is that her partner, in her eyes, is lazy beyond reason. After a long day, they both come home to enjoy the comforts of their condo, but her partner just wants to sit on the couch. She’s been sitting at a desk all day and wants to go for a walk, biking or just do something active.
All of the self-care books that she read mentions yoga, nature walking or meditation. Her frustrations grow daily, and no matter how many times she talks with her partner, it just doesn’t seem to work.
The purpose of living an aligned life is to know when things are out of balance. When we are off-balance, our emotions can spiral out of control, we can become physically sick, or we can take our frustrations out on those we love. When our relationships are out of balance, it also creates friction and can lead to more discord than harmony.
Rephrasing how self-care applies to our alignment can move us into a better state with ourselves and subsequently towards others. With this one simple, yet powerful journaling prompt, we can align quickly to a balanced state:
On a scale of one to ten, how physically active are you during the day:
(for example, if you work in construction, kitchens or on your feet most of the day, those are very active positions. In contrast, working at a desk for most of the day, resulting in a lower activity level.)
How much emotional energy do you expend during work hours?
(Do you work in humanities, animals or in management where there are lots of people’s energies and emotions that you need to guide or manage? Do you mainly work in solitude with minimal human or animal interaction?)
Do you work in complicated conditions?
(For example high-stress, lives-depend-on-it, intensely academic or pressured or laid-back with not a lot of intellectual requirements)
Here is what Sam and her partner wrote down:
Activity Level: 1 - Not very active
Emotional Energy: 2 - Works in Tech, not a lot of human involvement.
Complicated Conditions: 9 - Highly pressured, sophisticated and intellectual.
Activity Level: 8 - Kindergarten Teacher
Emotional Energy: 8 - Works with children, other teacher, parents, tons of human interaction.
Complicated Conditions: 4 - It has challenges, however in a more controlled environment.
Once they both realized that self-care isn’t one-size-fits-all, they were able to see clearly where their energies overlapped, but also where it differed utterly. Physical activity level is one of the biggest opposites that they experience in their working life. Sam’s day is much less active, and human interaction limited. It’s the opposite with Sam’s partner, who is involved with little humans and tons of communication.
When Sam comes home, she wants to connect, whereas her partner wants to disconnect. They decided to work on the opposite self-care strategy. Whatever they do too much of during the day, their self-care involves the opposite.
Sam’s Opposite Self-care:
Active self-care like biking or walking in nature.
Emotional self-care: Spend time with friends or in a gym class, group journaling.
Complicated Conditions: Self-care that is fun and not intense, like a board game or a craft.
Sam’s Partner Opposite Self-care:
Active self-care like massage, movie etc.
Emotional self-care: Spend time alone, journaling, meditation.
Complicated Conditions: Self-care that could be more stimulating in an adult environment, like a night out with no shop-talk.
Self-care is ensuring our energy is filled up so that we can live our best lives in an aligned manner for the highest good of everyone.
Keep Journaling, Keep Growing.