Stability is something we all crave. The ups and downs of life take us over, and days end up feeling like merry-go-rounds that we want to get off. Another word for stability is peace. This article explores some of the ways we experience instability, and how we might achieve peace when instability threatens.
Think of a bicycle. When does it become unstable? There are two or three main ways:
Speed instability – this is when you ride a bicycle too slow or too fast. Your speed does not match the equipment and terrain, and imbalance results, experienced as instability.
Direction instability – this is when you make a wrong decision, turning left when you should turn right to maintain balance. The result is instability and a crash. It is a judgement error.
Inherent instability – some machines have an equipment fault or design error which means that however well you use them, they become unstable. There is little you can do about this, except take it back to the repair shop, or get some new parts.
Now think of yourself. The above offers you three ways in which you might become unstable, and suggests the kind of thinking that might get you back on track:
Are you going too fast or too slow? Going too slowly can make you unstable, because you don’t have enough activity to keep you moving healthily. This is why, often, joining a club or starting a new hobby works wonders: it gives you forward inertia. On the other hand, going too fast can seriously upset your equilibrium, because you don’t have time to correct your path. Even taking a break may not help (it is like riding a speeding bike into a bush!). Here you need to learn to relax your feet on the pedals, and be less manic.
Are you going in the wrong direction? Steering your action in a direction incompatible with your context results in crashes. You will only regain stability if you act wisely, matching your actions to your situation.
Are you inherently unbalanced? Sorry to have to say it, but we are all different, and some of us will find it harder than others to manage our bodily systems. For example, if you have experienced trauma in the past, you may be predisposed to become nervous and unstable whenever you are in a similar situation to that which caused the original trauma. Here, you may have to put yourself in the repair shop, whether it is intense reflection, therapy or medical assistance.
From the above, a few tips arise for finding stability in your life. For each one, there are exercises you can do to train yourself to respond better to your own instability, and achieve peace.
EXERCISE 1 – LEARNING TO CHOOSE YOUR SPEED
Watch your friends perform activities. You will notice that we are all one-speed people: frequently we do things at one speed, and that is it. For instance, you might always type as quickly as you can, always trying to get everything done. Or you might wash up extra fast, because you don’t want it to last too long. You may always get out of bed extra slowly, because you have trouble adjusting to the waking day.
A good exercise is to choose a new speed. If you always drive fast, see what it is like to drive slowly. If you make love slowly, see what it is like (obviously with consent!) to do so faster. If you gulp your drink, see what it is like to sip. The aim here is to gain a skill: the ability to CHOOSE your speed in all your activities. This will help you to moderate yourself at times of instability.
EXERCISE 2 – LEARNING TO CHOOSE YOUR DIRECTION
When unstable, some people reach for a drink. Some for drugs. Some people start a fight with their nearest and dearest. These are all habits we have developed to avoid the difficult activity of deciding on our own response.
A good exercise here is to keep a notebook with you and WRITE THINGS DOWN. For example, if you are encountering a diffficult day at work, note down what is happening, and write down what you choose to do next. This helps your deciding brain to kick in, and helps it to overcome your habit brain. In other words, writing notes, or even journalling if you want to go that far, helps you to become wise, and avoid repeatedly making the same mistakes time after time just out of habit.
EXERCISE 3 – LEARNING TO MANAGE YOUR INHERENT IMBALANCES
You may have inherited an unstable mind – either genetically, or through childhood experiences you couldn’t control. Your job now is to find ways of managing yourself, mastering yourself, so that you are not the victim of these inherent problems. This could even involve arranging changes in your environment to make it easier for you to live and work.
A good exercise here is to build your personal repair shop. This may be a healing friend (pay attention to who helps you feel better). It may be a course of therapy. Or it may be a different course, holiday or retreat with the specific purpose of rebuilding your equilibrium. It may also be arranging your home to suit your personality, so that it compensates. If you are inherently excitable, use cool colours and calm designs. Perhaps develop routines that separate you from social media a while before bed. Where you are ill, you will have to develop your own hospital environments. Don’t be proud. None of us are perfect. Even Formula 1 cars need careful repair work (arguably more than normal cars!).
We all have times of instability. Using the analogy of a bicycle, we can see that speed, direction and design all play their part in achieving stability. Learn to choose your speed; to choose your direction; and to manage your own weaknesses. That way lies wisdom and peace.