A Life In Balance: The Grownups’ 4H club
I have always conceptualized a balanced life for an adult much like a four-legged milking stool. Every leg must be equally stable in order for its user to rest solidly and comfortably on it. If even one leg is shaky it will be difficult to hold one’s seat; more than one shaky leg and sitting would be precarious. If one leg is broken, the would-be sitter is toppled.
My version of the Grownups’ 4 H Club consists of Health, Home, Hire and Heart. (One of my clients suggested adding “Horny” but I think we can put that under Heart, even though it’s a different part of the anatomy). For a well-balanced life each of us needs comfort in and rewards from these four basic areas of life.
HOME: Where do you live? Is it comfortable? Welcoming? Secure? Difficulties in this sector could be issues with rent or mortgage payments, incompatible housemates, physical issues like leaky windows or a lack of a secure lock.
HEALTH: What’s going on in your body? Do you like it? Feeling unattractive? Are you wanting to diet or quit smoking or using any particular substance? Any ongoing health issues that require attention? Anything hurt? When there is serious trouble in this sector of one’s life it requires immediate attention, above and beyond any other.
HIRE: What do you do for money? If you are self-employed, employed by someone else, or are yourself the employer of others there will be problems, or certainly can be, although each situation brings its own. If you dislike your work or it brings a great deal of stress that you are not dealing with appropriately it can, and usually does, affect all other areas of your life and that of those closest to you.
HEART: Do you have a partner/s and does that relationship bring you more pleasure than grief? Are you without a partner and wanting one? Do you have at least one good friend of both sexes? If you are part of a couple do you have some friends in common? And, because it is an issue with many of my counseling clients – horny: Partnered or single, are you getting enough affectionate and/or erotic touch in your life?
Because I specialize in relationship counseling (a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in California) and am a Certified Sex Therapist, the majority of the people who come to see me identify their problem as belonging to this last category – relationships. Nonetheless, I always ask about all four areas in a person’s life. The client and his or her partner aren’t having enough sex might be the presenting problem but the underlying factors might be body issues (“I feel fat” or “My back hurts”), home issues (“I’m afraid the neighbors will hear us or the kids might walk in”), or work pressures (“I’m so tired at the end of the day all I want to do is sleep.”) If a person has not been honest with the spouse about any of this, or doesn’t realize how one segment of life affects the others, that’s something we have to unravel together in counseling sessions and then do some problem solving. It needn’t be something as drastic as quitting your job or moving elsewhere but accommodations do need to be made in a life that is unbalanced – that shaky four legged stool.
So whatever you identify as mucking up the perfectly balanced life we all strive for, take a look at the other segments. See how each affects the others. Tackle the most basic issue first, the one you can most easily do something about, and work towards a good balance. No more wobbly milking stools for you!