Seeking Balance to Live Life (Part 2)

On this week’s post, we continue to dive into practical advice Seeking Balance to Live Life. Click here for part 1.

Manage your thoughts.  Even when you breathe, you can say to yourself “I am breathing in relaxation and acceptance, and (with each exhale) I am experiencing peace and life.”   Learn to challenge the unhealthy thoughts connected to the fight-flight or shut-down response, using healthier, life-giving truths that help you experience life more fully.  

Reflect on: Philippians 4:8; Romans 12:2; II Corinthians 10:3-5; Proverbs 23:7a

Accept vulnerability. You are vulnerable to many uncertainties in life, because no one can predict the future.  You are vulnerable to the past through unwanted thoughts and feelings because the past cannot be eliminated. Instead of trying to control them, accept their existence and give them less power by refocusing your mind in a valued direction.

Reflect on: Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 10:16-20; Romans 13:1-10; 15:1-7

Open up to life.   Refocus yourself to the world around you.  Learn to appreciate the art that is all around you.  Enjoy the varied types of music.  Appreciate the seasons and the beauty of nature, which has been called “the greatest show on earth.”  Dogs, cats, birds, horses, and creatures from the animal kingdom all have something to offer as you open up to life in the direction of your choice. The Lord has made all things for you to enjoy in His presence. 

Reflect on: Romans 1:20; James 1:17; Psalm 19:1-6

Choose your valued direction.  There are many roads from which to choose, so consider your values and beliefs, and choose wisely.  Move in that direction, allowing it to energize you.  It is a continuing process.  Remember, you are living life, contributing to the world.  Commit yourself to ongoing action, knowing life is not a destination, but a journey.

Reflect on: Elisha in II Kings 2:9; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14; I Corinthians 12:4-7

Love.  Open up to giving and receiving love.  It is the highest value, and through it we all can experience freedom from the ravages of the fight-flight or fright response.  Forgiveness for ourselves and others is found under the umbrella of love, as is hope for the future.  As philosophers and spiritually minded people have indicated for millennia, love is a resource which will never run out.

Reflect on: John 13:34-35; 17:23; I Corinthians 13; I John 3:16-18; I John 4:7-21

Ronald S. Newman, Ph.D. is a psychologist in Mays Landing on Route 50 who can be reached at:, or 609-567-9022.    

This article was originally published on the Hammonton Gazette, March 2019 and has been modified into a new format.

Illustration by Jeff Östberg.

Seeking Balance to Live Life (Part 1)

Life throws us curve balls, or sometimes fast balls that really hurt when we are hit.  We find ourselves battling various threats to our well-being, like a swordsman parrying the attack of an enemy. At a visceral level, we feel the fight-flight or fright response taking place in our central nervous system.  

This automatic response to threats may lead us to anxiety and panic. We find ourselves running in flight mode, seeking to avoid the danger that feels like a cougar on our back with its claws and teeth taking the life out of us. Or, we turn and fight, becoming more vicious ourselves like a pit-bull fighting for its life. Sometimes we give up and play possum, with our system in total shut-down mode.   

Reflect on Elijah in I Kings 18:16-19:4

How do we manage these situations so we may pursue a meaningful and productive life?  

Here are a few tips which may help.    

Notice your avoidance pattern. What feelings and experiences are you seeking to avoid?  Evaluate your own fight-flight or fright pattern in your thoughts and actions. Learn to become an observer of your own responses to perceived threats.  Addictions and various emotional and psychological problems can grow out of this pattern.

Reflect on:  Joseph’s brothers in Genesis 42 –Genesis 44

Learn acceptance.  Rather than fighting your emotional reactions, befriend them.  These physical and emotional responses are automatic, signaling you that some threat is present. The real enemy is your learned patterns of avoidance. You are seeking increased flexibility and freedom in your life. For example, you may gain freedom by saying a loving “No,” when necessary, if you are prone to say “Yes,” against your will to avoid the discomfort of offending someone.

Reflect on: Romans 12:1; I Peter 5:6-7; James 4:6-10

Assess the threat.  Is the threat realistic or more in our own minds?  Mark Twain said “I’ve lived a long and horrible life, and most of it never happened.”  Our minds are often the true battlefield wherein we struggle.  We magnify perceived threats, demand impossible perfection from ourselves for fear of rejection, minimize our own strengths, and so on.

Reflect on: II Timothy 1:7; Proverbs 28:1-2; Ephesians 6:10-12; I Thessalonians 5:21-22

Resolve memories.  When we do get attacked and injured, the memory of it is often where people become stuck. We can relive the experience over and over, even in nightmares. Instead, face those memories, grieve what needs grieving, confront what needs confronting, and seek resolution so that you may live in the present. Let go of labels about yourself that hold you back.

Reflect on: Proverbs 14:10; Exodus 1:14; Ruth 1:20; Ephesians 4:31-32 

Breathe. Focusing and taking charge of your breathing connects the deep limbic system with the conscious, thinking part of the brain.  You can slow your breaths to six breaths a minute, five seconds in and five seconds out, for example.  We can also consider how God breathed life into us and has given us this gift of life. 

Reflect on:  Proverbs 14:30; Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 3:21; Psalm 150:6; John 20:22

Continue reading next week to get more practical advice on seeking balance regarding our lives.

This article was originally published on the Hammonton Gazette, March 2019 and has been modified into a new format.

Illustration by Jeff Östberg.