I often talk about being balanced - mentally and emotionally. Being balanced is good, a useful skill to have in life, a state of mind that brings peace of mind, being balanced isn't about control, it's about ... well, balance.
People who don't have a balanced state of mind just don't get it. Mainly because they've never experienced balance. Also, because many people don't want to experience balance. No emotional extremes and love drama? Somewhat boring.
After all, what does 'being balanced' really mean?
Leaving aside the obvious perks of being balanced, which are many by the way, such as peace of mind (who doesn't want to experience peace of mind now and then?) and more harmonious relationships with people, stronger health and better sleep, and so on. Leaving aside all these - so obvious and much talked about - benefits of being balanced, I want to talk about some side effects of being balanced.
I call them 'side effects' because firstly I didn't expect them when I was reaching out for balance. Secondly, I don't know if these are my own side effects or other people also experience them. Last but not least I suspect many people will regard them exactly as unwanted side effects.
As I developed a more balanced state of mind, I've become more emotionless inside. Not that I was too emotional in the past. But nowadays I feel particularly detached. Not much can stir up my emotions (not talking about husband and kids who are very good at pushing my buttons).
I know very well that my detachment may seem very unusual if not weird to other people. A couple of years ago a car smashed into the big trees which sheltered our house from the road and rolled down into our backyard (our house is on a slope). Neighbours rang me at work and told me a car smashed into the house, and sent me a picture. The backyard looked shambles and the trees were huge and it wasn't clear how much damage was actually done. I remember my colleagues looked at my face to see if I was upset or stressed, and I was calmly packing my laptop, feeling absolutely nothing.
I took a taxi and arrived to find my raspberry garden destroyed, trees shelter destroyed, our new heat pumps completely covered in debris and it looked like it'd take us 10 years to clean up the yard. The car was sitting on a steep slope right on a gas tap, and there was heavy machinery lifting the car and a fire truck with a firefighter with a hose standing there ready in case the gas explodes. A police officer was talking with my husband who looked quite shocked. There was an ambulance for the driver who was fine but also shocked. Not to mention a crowd of observers. I felt nothing.
As the evening went on I felt nothing, I was busy calming down my husband and the overexcited kids.
Days went on and I was absolutely fine, I felt nothing about the incident, maybe slight annoyance that the tree shelter was gone. My neighbours and colleagues at work were more excited and worried about the incident than I was.
I know that this lack of emotions and 'unnatural calm' may seem disturbing and annoying to some people. Yet, this isn't because I don't care about the driver, the damage to the house, or potential risk of the gas exploding in my backyard. I still have negative thoughts quickly running in my mind and offering me worst case scenarios. But there's a process inside my mind - a process that has become a habit that I hardly notice - to disassociate with my thoughts and stop them from affecting my emotional state. So it's not that I don't see the risk or the damage or other people's pain and fear. It's just I don't let my thoughts affect my emotions so I don't experience negative emotions.
Why? Firstly, negative emotions are unpleasant. Secondly, they don't help in any situation and definitely not in a critical situation. Last, how can my negative emotions calm down my husband, the driver and my kids who are already stressed? Negativity breeds negativity. Panic reinforces panic. Everything spins out of control.
This brings me to the second 'side effect' of being balanced.
This may sound contradictory but being detached most of the time I find it easier to generate emotions at will. I think all people can do it, but few do it in a well thought through and planned manner. More often than not people deal with emotions that have somehow come into existence and now need to be dealt with - either expressed or suppressed. So people have to either find a way to express emotions (either healthy or unhealthy ways) or hide emotions.
Being detached gives me the freedom to create my own emotional state, so I get to decide how I react to a situation. It feels like painting on a blank piece of paper. I get to decide how I want to feel regardless of what my mind tells me to.
Generating my own emotions feels like a very creative process. It's like dancing to different music. I feel I want to dance to rock music now, so I turn on the rock radio. Then I switch to country music or classic. I can stop dancing at any time I desire. But unlike music which can be turned off, emotions don't come and go in an instant. They come and go in waves, and switching to a different set of emotions requires some time; it's impossible to switch off that button, instead they need to subside and I have to come out of that emotional reaction slowly and nicely. The most important factor - I never forget that they're my own creation and never ever fully associate with them.
The same goes with reacting (emotionally) to other people. Not only it gives relationships some spice which is well planned on my part. It removes unwanted surprises from my life because it's so much harder for people to shake me out of my balance; even if I act as if I've been shaken out of my balance - believe me, I rarely am. On top of it I still experience a range of emotions but in the safety of knowing that I can stop any time I wish, wipe them out and create something new instead.
Surprisingly, as I've grown more detached and emotionless inside, people started to see me as more emotional, because I generate emotions as I want. Perhaps it feels safer because I know I can change how I feel, mostly.
This has nothing to do with pretending or playing games although some people can definitely see it that way. My emotions are genuine and sincere. The catch here is that I can only generate emotions that I've already experienced in life. I never try and create an emotion that I never experienced, because it'll look fake. The ones I've experienced are sitting inside me like a deck of playing cards, and I can pick any that I think would be desirable and appropriate at the moment.
What 'desirable' and 'appropriate' mean to me is a totally different story. What motivates me is a different story, too.
It's not exactly lack of motivation even though it often feels like it. It's just that my motivation is desperately trying to adapt to my more balanced and detached state of mind. This means that simple things like winning a Monopoly game, buying a new dress, getting a promotion or growing a bigger raspberry bush than my neighbour's simply don't motivate me any more.
Of course I keep doing all these things, but I can't be motivated to experience anything close to happiness or joy or any emotions really from these simple things. These little simple things are a given fact of my life. Of course my raspberry bush is bigger, it should be. I'll get this job, totally, because I deserve it. But if not, who cares anyway, there'll be another bush and another job. Such trifles of life don't deserve any emotions at all.
Sometimes I feel like a ghost hunter with ghost hunting gear running around an abandoned house trying to detect what triggers my motivation to feel anything at all. Or maybe like a primary school kid who just left kindergarten and still expects to see mum in the classroom. Mum isn't there any more and I have to decide what emotional experience I want and why.
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment. - Eckhart Tolle
Should I think about what I want to experience in the moment? It goes something like this: I feel I haven't had emotional drama for a while, why not create some. Why not use my husband for this purpose. Let him know first that it's an experiment. People take emotions seriously and emotional dramas can be quite damaging. It can be quite damaging to me, too, if I forget for a moment that I'm simply being creative and start associating myself with my emotional state.
Or should I perhaps think what would be best to show other people depending on the situation? But how do I define what's best? Best for me or best for other people, which gets me to question if I really know what'd be best for other people. Or best for myself for this matter.
Motivation is something I'm currently working through, but not with my rational mind because it only complicates things. I'm trying to play it by ear and based on feedback I receive from the world and other people.
How I relate to other people brings me to my next 'side effect' of being balanced.
Despite coming across as quite emotional, likeable and very engaged, I'm actually much more disengaged in relationships than before.
Again, it's not like I don't care. I do care, and I do feel other people very well, I always did. However, a combination of a detached mind and the ability to choose an emotional response makes me feel disengaged. The fact that I don't think I know what motivates me and what's actually best for other people doesn't help either.
My emotional state doesn't depend as much on what other people do or say. I don't expect any particular emotional reactions from people. I don't rely on others to give me emotional gratification of some kind, or boost my self-confidence, or bring me peace of mind, or make me feel better about myself. All this makes it hard to feel engaged and truly involved in relationships.
That doesn't mean that I don't talk to people, don't build networks and close relationships. I still do and it comes naturally to me. But my interactions are sometimes funny, or so it seems to other people. I can show particular emotions because this seems appropriate or needed at the moment and then change my emotional response. I can do this especially with family and close friends, because I sense that people want some emotional experience and so I give it to them. Or sometimes I change my emotional responses for my own entertainment.
Sometimes people feel that I've been very engaged and then suddenly withdraw because the interaction isn't going right. I don't withdraw, I just go back to my normal disengaged state. No matter what goes on with other people, deep inside I'm disengaged, I'm alone. Not to be confused with feeling lonely though.
To sum it up, I often hear other people say that I'm unpredictable. I guess unpredictable in my emotional reactions and actions. This somehow doesn't go well with the concept of 'being balanced' yet to me being balanced isn't about being completely calm, impartial and peaceful.
Being balanced to me is learning to balance my mind, my emotions and actions, so I can create my own reality by shaping my emotional reactions and interactions with people.