Bringing harmony and peace into our lives is something that all human beings are striving for, often looking in vain outside of ourselves to find it. But finding inner peace requires that we understand ourselves and take a look at our needs and whether they are being met. We are made up of four need arenas: the physical, the
emotional, the intellectual and the spiritual (our body, heart, mind and soul). If we arranged these four needs as even wedges in a circle, we would see that if we spent too much time in one quadrant we would form a bulge and wobble when we roll. The places we neglect contribute to our lack of balance.
The spiritual side of us (and I’m not talking about religious dogma) is where our creativity and imagination live; the place where our dreams and life’s purpose reside and the source of those things that we are passionate about. If we neglect this part, we create a hole in our soul that we might try to fill with drugs and alcohol. We disconnect from our spiritual side when we work for the mighty dollar instead of living our dreams. When we “put in our time” we are neglecting our natural desire to make a difference. How often do you say: “Thirty and out”; “Only two more years till I graduate”; or “Only three more days till the weekend”. If you are just putting in your time, you are surviving, not thriving. You are wishing your life away on some nebulous happiness in the future that can never be if you continue to focus on circumstances instead of yourself.
Then there is our emotional side. This is where love and intimacy grow; where we develop our relatedness to each other. It is the home of our gut feelings, our intuition, our attitudes, and our behavioral norms. It is also where the “unwanted emotions” – fear, depression and anger – live. We hurt ourselves when we think that we should not have these dark emotions, so we try to deny them through overeating and other abuse of others and ourselves. We need to recognize that all of our feelings are appropriate, we just need to learn how to manage them.
Emotional intelligence, EQ not IQ, is not taught in schools although it has been proven that only three out of ten people with high IQ become successful in life, whereas seven out of ten with high EQ create successful lives. The development of emotional intelligence is being introduced in the workplace in soft side training programs focusing on conflict resolution, team building, communications and relationship building. A test indicator for a high level EQ is the ability to defer gratification. How would you score? One of the top five medical expenses in society today is therapy. This is truly an indicator of the need for us to understand ourselves and manage our emotions. Those who will thrive in the future will have the ability to manage their emotions by recognizing and nurturing them, learning where feelings come from, and how to choose what to feel. Misery is a choice. So it stands to reason, if we can choose our own misery, we can choose our own joy.
Our physical side is also one which society neglects but there is mounting evidence that our emotions affect our wellness and that having our four arenas in balance is imperative for physical health. If we neglect they physical, our failing health will eventually force us to pay more attention to it. It is documented that our immune system is affected by depression and anxiety. New techniques, such as holistic medicine, are on the rise because they address us as a whole; as the sum of all four arenas.
Our intellect, the arena of lifelong learning cannot be neglected either, or we will stunt our growth. We are forced to keep up with technological advances at an ever-increasing rate, or risk falling behind forever. What we know today will be obsolete in two to four years. But this should not be a source for more anxiety; it is an opportunity to continually develop our minds and learn new skills.
Keeping a balance between all arenas should be at the top of your “things to do” list. Take the time to find out who you are and what you want in life. Examine if your dreams are being lived and if you are creating a life of your heart’s desire. Take the time to care for your physical and emotional well-being. Spending equal time in each quadrant will put balance into your life. No longer be a victim to “putting in your time.” Instead, have the courage to say “there is enough time for me to be me.”