Balance is often one of the hardest needs to meet, because it requires sufficient awareness of all our other needs. Balance is often not met when one of more needs are seriously unmet but others are met in abundance. An example might be the balance between the needs for challenge and the needs for ease. Both are important needs and often arise when the other is over met. When things get too challenging, we often crave some ease and rest. But when we get too much ease and rest, we often want some challenge or excitement.

And such is life: balancing our needs from day to day, moment to moment. At the level of needs, life is often polar, a series of choices. In NVC philosophy, needs do not conflict, just like feelings do not conflict, but needs often compete, and part of being mindful of our needs is deciding which needs to meet and which to mourn or let go of. As we become more skilful at caring for ourselves, we start to adopt strategies that meet multiple needs. I remember in one workshop sexual expression met something like 30 needs. Obviously we cannot always be expressing ourselves sexually, but if we can meet 10 needs with some activity, it is probably worth considering.

Another area where people often struggle to have balance is between closeness and connection on one hand and space and alone time on another. As discussed further in the chapter on relationships, balance in closeness and space differs from person to person. I tend to like to spend a lot of time by myself. But I start to feel a need for connection with others if I have been alone for the entire day. For my partner, she might feel the need for closeness within a couple hours of being alone. Neither is wrong or unhealthy. They just are. The key is being aware of the needs as they arise and honoring what they are telling you.

Just like all other needs, balance is often influenced by our conditioning. One person might feel that their life is in balance with 8 hours of work 5 days a week and then fun and rest the balance of the time. Others feel more in balance if they have several hobbies in addition to work. Others like a little bit of a lot of things: work, study, exercise, socializing, alone time, rest etc. All is good. The key to meeting our needs for balance is to be in touch with our need for balance. To be mindful of it. When our life is out of balance, it often shows up in a series of feelings, including feeling “out of sorts” or confused.

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