Poise is a state of balance. We can see this physically when we view poised people moving with grace and agility. If thrown off balance, they are quickly able to regain it because of their practiced skill.

Let’s take that  term apart. Often we give more recognition for skill, as if people possess something intrinsic that makes them successful in physical endeavors. However, every athlete would attest to the truth that skill is not enough – that “practice makes perfect.”

Emotional poise also requires balance. You’ve probably heard that every strength can become a weakness if it becomes too dominant. Our strengths have to be counter-balanced in order to remain assets.

  • For instance, being organized and task oriented is of importance, but if we too rigidly adhere to this, we miss out on fun and creativity. On the other hand, if we possess spontaneity and a carefree spirit without the balance of being able to plan for some things, we may be more vulnerable when it comes to retirement.
  • To use an emotional example, loving and caring for others is a wonderful gift. We have a more rewarding life if we are able to look beyond the narrow confines of our self-interest. If not balanced by care for self, however, it lapses into self-neglect or even masochism.

We need the balance of self-interest to truly be poised emotionally. 

To cultivate poise, be curious about these things:

  • Do you care for your body, giving it proper nutrition and exercise?
  • What activities of self-reflection do you engage in?
  • What gives you joy and fulfillment? Do you focus enough on these activities?
  • What activities do you engage in that are about the welfare of others?

Being curious is gentler than we often are with ourselves. Stop right now if you’re using this in a judgmental way! This is not meant to add stress to your life. Life is a process and poise is about counter-acting anything that is out of balance.

The above questions are important because they all contribute aspects to poise.

  • If our bodies are not properly cared for, that affects us not only physically but emotionally. Carrying tension eventually leads to breakdown in some part of our bodies. The effect of exercise on our emotions has been documented, and it’s beginning to be more recognized how our emotional state is affected by nutritional deficits.
  • Self-awareness is very important for poise. That requires space and time to “just be” rather than keeping busy all the time. Knowing what is important to us and knowing what we feel helps us self-correct if we begin to get out of balance.
  • Our poise is undermined if we never water our “souls” or what brings us joy. Our wells run dry, just as real ones do when there is drought.
  • If we’re all about “us” and don’t have any concern for others, we lose perspective in life. Understanding how others are similar and different from us keeps us in tune with one another. It gives us a leg up when it comes to negotiating conflicts with people.

Think about the poised people you know. I’d be willing to bet that they strive for balance in all aspects of life. “Striving” is the key word here, because perfection never comes.

Knowing that frees all of us for growth!



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