Work-Life Balance: Your choice to respond

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor E. Frankl

I get so much energy from the knowledge that I have the power of choice! Yet, knowing that I can quickly slip into the beat of daily life and not always be authentic in how I respond to situations.

When the situation hits

 Do you recognise that fraction of a second before you respond to something?

 When you have a thousand thoughts, emotions, feelings and physical reactions rushing around you, sometimes overwhelming you?

 Do you realise you have the power to influence the outcome?

 Do you choose to be compassionate to yourself?

 Can you control the rising emotions that are engulfing your body and mind?

 Can you support your body as it reacts strongly and perhaps negatively to the situation you are in?

The impact of the situation

In the Netherlands, only 8% of workers reported having good work-life balance (SBI, 2011), and 13% of Dutch workers reported having burnout (CBS, 2011).

Work-life conflict can affect physical and mental health and well-being, life satisfaction, and relationships - imagine what life would be like if you could find a new way to respond to situations?

Acknowledging you have a choice

When you are in the middle of a really high pressured, difficult situation, it may feel like you have few choices - but you have total control. You have the ability to respond in a way that is supportive, caring and helpful to yourself.

It just takes some practice...

Here is a story about Louise

Louise: worked 4 days per week; manager in multinational company; based in Amsterdam; married with 3 children.

Every Friday Louise had a meeting with her manager, and would leave the room feeling angry, frustrated, upset, and discouraged. She didn’t know how to manage the situation but found that over the weeks she went into the meetings with more and more anxiety, became more insecure and more defensive of her tasks.

It was all she could think about. It was becoming consuming. It was affecting her home time. She was taking it out on her husband and children, and being irritable with them.

She couldn’t get to sleep because she’d replay situations over in her mind and then Louise would wake up in the middle of the night and it would start again. She was feeling physically unwell (headaches, digestions problems).

What to do in this situation?

Louise knew that this was having a serious impact on her health, her mind, her family and her work. She wanted it to stop. But how?

 She told herself "I will not allow my manager to have this much control over me."

 She wrote down all her feelings and, with some support, started to ask herself "What do I feel?" and "What do I really need?"

 Louise realised that she needed respect, independence, exchange, appreciation and a challenge in her work. Using this information she put together a strategy for her manager, clearly stating how she needed to work and what she wanted from her role.

 Louise met with her manager and made her requests. She came out of the meeting knowing that some of her needs were finally being met.

What can be learnt from Louise’s story?

Louise’s story is a very common one - it's a story of relationship conflict. The main things to learn from her story are that:

 She made the powerful choice that the conflict could no longer affect her health. It appears a simple choice, but it is very difficult to activate that choice.

 We are constantly feeling, experiencing, thinking. When it becomes overwhelming it is helpful to understand what we are feeling - writing the feelings down stops it becoming so powerful and consuming

 "My feelings and my actions are the result of my own unmet needs..." Marshall Rosenberg PhD. Understanding what we really need calms the negative thoughts and emotions.

 Planning a strategy for ourselves, a future, a change, is a great vision. It becomes a goal to work towards. Make requests to yourself and others to help make it happen.

 We are our own worst judge. We judge ourselves, our actions, our conversations. We often judge ourselves judging! Louise was great at this - that was part of the control. Acknowledge your judgments - they’re there for a reason but they don’t need focus or time!

Louise’s health improved over the weeks after the initial meeting. She kept focused on her strategy. Her sleeping improved and life got better at home too! Give it a try for yourself!


Wendy Mackey Jones


Wendy Mackey Jones

Solutions for Balance is a consultancy company specialising in work-life balance, and supporting individuals, groups and organisations to be healthy, engaged and highly performing (in all areas of life). I...

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