The Myth of Balance

By Nicole Hind

You can have it all’ they said! And we believed them. We still do, even though we pretend to know better these days.

Women in particular are plagued by the ‘balance’ narrative. I often hear versions of this in the counselling room: ‘I’m a bad mum’ (I wasn’t patient) ‘My career is down the toilet’ (I was too tired) ‘I’m a terrible partner’ (I didn’t remember their mum’s birthday) ‘My friends hate me’ (I can’t give them the same amount I used to) ‘our house is a pigsty (and it’s my fault).

You know ‘rationally’ it’s not realistic to divide yourself into portions and give 100% to each portion at all times, but beat the hell out of yourself when you can’t do it. You take responsibility for things that aren’t yours alone. When you are burnt out and feel like an inadequate hopeless case, who wins?

The funny thing is, the aim of ‘finding balance’ is supposed to be about a fulfilling life: love, family, career, home, friends, adventures, self-care. Supposedly we have more freedom than ever. You aren’t oppressed by your life. And yet isn’t the impossible goal of ‘balance’ oppressive?

How can we escape this unhelpful fantasy?

Give yourself full permission to embrace messiness and ‘not-knowing’. Does anything else become available? Do you have more choices? Are there things you could be letting yourself off the hook for?

Put energy into the right things: less instead of more. Instead of trying to ‘fit in’ Mindfulness practice, be present with what you’re doing for 5 minutes. Celebrate whatever felt good. Stay in touch with what’s most important to you, even if that changes depending on what needs the most attention, and let the rest fade into static. You don’t need balance, you can just be human.

With a Masters in Narrative Therapy, Nicole has been practicing counselling for a bunch of years. Follow her blog to find out more: