There are times when I know that I need to take a step back, shut down shop, and figure out how to fix things. At this point, things are already a mess. Like after an extended period of sleep deprivation, naps just don’t do the trick anymore. Something is going to have to be rescheduled or cancelled, because you can’t run on empty forever.
Maintenance is great but it can feel like a lot of effort when you first get started. There was a time when I didn’t really have any sort of strategic approach to life (not that it’s all organized now) and the idea of maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle seemed like too much effort. There are so many things that you can maintain – exercise routines, mental health and wellness practices, school performance, job performance, relationships etc. etc. etc. But over time, the payoff of maintenance has slowly been winning me over. I’ve begun to switch things around so that maintenance is becoming the way that I approach life. The more regular and consistent your maintenance efforts become, the less effortful they are to maintain.
Damage control was previously my approach to mental health. For instance, I would use mindfulness exercises to clear my mind, but only when my ability to think clearly was seriously degraded. Slowly, I learned that continually practicing these exercises actually prevents me from reaching that point so often. I still do damage control, but I also do maintenance, and that is working really well for me. I don’t view damage control in a negative light, because the reality is that from time to time, things do become a mess. It’s okay to have to clean up.
But my goal is to engage in damage control less, not just because my life is running smoothly, but because I am handling life circumstances in a more efficient way. The progression isn’t always consistent across life. In some areas, I have become efficient enough to mostly require maintenance. In others, damage control is needed more often because the situation is new or [quite frankly] I just haven’t learned how to handle it well yet.
All of the above strategies have been useful at some point in my life. I often forget that other people are involved in the same processes as I am. I may be considering what I should do when someone has crossed my boundaries, while not realizing that I have crossed someone else’s. The process of self-improvement isn’t perfect and the goal of self-improvement isn’t perfection. The goal is to gain knowledge and experience, so that you can practice doing right by yourself and others. When something is balanced, it is equal. When you try to balance something, you try to keep it from falling. The latter is the type of balance I am talking about. And when something does fall, use whichever skills are appropriate in that instance and try to balance it again.