Living a Balanced Life
Living in a state of sustainability means that we are able to support ourselves without depleting our resources. Sustainable Living is a goal initiated by the field of ecology as recognition grew that Western and capitalistic cultures are highly unsustainable. It is not surprising then that many of us haven’t any idea how to live emotionally, spiritually, and financially sustainable lives. We don’t know how to balance our time, food, money, external care, self-care and spiritual needs in a way that doesn’t leave one area of our lives depleted. Sustainability-focused counseling helps people to live lives that feel manageable – to create a balanced and sustainable life that builds their internal and external resources.
We are not financially unsustainable when we spend more than we make. Going into debt can only happen so long before we max out our debt potential. Like all unsustainable behaviors, financial unsustainability dynamics lead to unsustainability in other areas. For example, lack of financial resources leads to anxiety. Anxiety leads to decreases in physical health and more illness. Anxiety can lead to depression and relationship difficulty. It can also cause people to make unethical decisions around money due to their sense of fear and deprivation. We may also make loads of money and have tons of extra put in investments and still be unsustainable. If the hours we put in making that money leaves us unavailable for our family, our relationships, our spirituality or need for rest and rejuvenation, then our money-making endeavors do not offer balanced sustainability.
Being the person who gives all the time, but rarely receives support in return is not sustainable. Eventually we feel depleted and start to give out of habit or obligation, so then the giving becomes a burden. Emotional depletion and lack of support leads to loneliness and depression and may lead to an existential crisis in which we question “what’s the point of life?’ Relationships in which one or both people are codependent are a type of emotionally unsustainable relationship, so is one in which one partner is fully dependent while another must provide for everything.
Spiritual sustainability occurs when our relationship to God/Spirit is a support to our lives. When we become so focused on our religion or our spiritual life that we sacrifice our family life, our spiritual life has become unsustainable. By the same token, if we have abandoned our spiritual selves so much that we no longer feel purpose in life, that is also unsustainable. Humans are designed to connect to a Something Greater and we are most at peace when we live in connection to that Something Greater. Now, that doesn’t mean that we all need to believe in God. The Something Greater could be family or scientific exploration, for example. But we all need something.
Sustainability in Life
We can take the value of sustainability and apply it to every aspect of our lives. For example, time sustainability – working too much, volunteering too much, spending too much time fixing up my house, etc. Some other areas of life where sustainability may be an issue are work, sexual expression, and intimacy.