X – [e]xtreme

For the month of April I’m blogging alphabetically about quick, easy, and practical ways to relieve stress. To see the other posts in this series, click here.

balanceI have a tendency to take things to extremes. I think maybe it’s because I’m a perfectionist. When I realize something is good and I decide I’m going to do it, I do it the very best I am able. But a lot of times that lands me in extreme territory. My husband is always reminding me, “Life is about balance, not extremes.” He’s so right.

At the risk of sounding extreme, I’m going to say that taking anything to its extreme is not a good thing. Good things, when pushed to their extreme, aren’t so good anymore. Healthy dichotomies (work and play; fast and slow; exciting and boring) are what makes life full and balanced and enjoyable. For example, in my world, chocolate is a good thing. A pound of chocolate in one sitting probably isn’t a good thing. A smaller serving of chocolate that just happens to be coating pretzels is a very good thing. Sweet and salty. It’s fuller. (more full?) Balanced. More enjoyable.

In all seriousness, sometimes I do a great injustice to the good things in my life by trying to take them to extremes. For example, I’m a neat person, but when I miss out on play time with my kiddos because I’m trying to make the house sparkle, I’ve gone to an extreme. A sparkling house isn’t a bad thing, but the extreme that caused me to miss out on something else good (playing with my kids) is. In the context of better managing my time, it is good for me to do volunteer work, but, when I volunteer to the point that I’m stressed out and running around like a chicken with my head cut off, it’s no longer a good for me or for my family. Whatever volunteer effort I’m engaged in is still a good thing with good results, but, when taken to an extreme, it’s no longer a good thing for me or my family.

My first priority has to be me, my marriage, and my children. Saying that sounds selfish to me, but it’s not because that is my vocation at this point in my life. When I overly extend myself in other directions, I am doing a disservice to my primary vocation. At the same time, when I become so obsessed with mothering and housekeeping and whatnot that I don’t take time for myself, I’m also doing a disservice to my vocation. (I have to take care of myself to be able to serve my family well.) Both scenarios cause stress. I’m going to have to start checking myself for balance, making sure my stress isn’t flowing from some good things taken to a not-so-good extreme. I’m not very good at that, but, luckily I have my husband to help me out in this area.

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