Getting The Balance Right


Our lives can be so challenging and finding the right balance in the way we respond to situations can be really hard.

Sometimes we get it wrong. Particularly when we are under pressure, it’s easy to become led by emotion, rather than by reason. Finding the correct balance is a vital element to our resilience, and that skill came to me relatively late in life. I’m talking about taking time to consider things carefully, achieving an intelligent and complete understanding, and settling on the right course of action.

Fundamental to this is my appreciation that when I have an issue or a problem, the solution is not always about me. By now (allegedly), I’m a grown up, and I’ve learned how important it is to see, understand and accept other people’s points of view. By working actively to do this, I find I can benefit in subtle ways. For example, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by some pretty positive people – so on days when my post sepsis syndrome is strong, I can balance out my own emotions by focusing on theirs.

It feels to me that our modern media discourages us from developing this important sense of balance and equilibrium.

In the crowded marketplace for our attention the focus is on extreme stories, outspoken opinions, radical thought. I don’t think this is helpful, especially when things nowadays can be so complex.

So I try hard now to reserve my judgement, and my opinions form more slowly. I listen harder and I ask myself more questions. I write things down, thoughts, ideas and responses, and I consider them carefully before I start saying things out loud. I suppose I have a horror of becoming one of those opinionated older men.

Of course, I get frustrated and angry at the same kind of things as everybody else.

Brexit, for example, rising prices, parking fines, and the seemingly endless reports of the failure to diagnose Sepsis in hospitals. But life’s complicated – the more we study these things, the more we appreciate the need to react in a balanced way.

And sometimes, we find that circumstances overtake us, and on some issues we don’t have to take a stand, or decide. Things, people, problems just somehow move along, and we can let them go. Don’t get me wrong, I can be as decisive as anyone about my key concerns, but they are becoming less important now, I understand where I do and where I don’t have control, and I can feel the pressure receding.

For a number of years after they amputated my face, the reconstructive surgery was urgent for me, and I was anxious about arranging it all.

I was 38 years old and I was scared. I was so ugly, I couldn’t be seen in public. I thought I might lose my family. Lose everything, and just be on my own. Then I was devastated when the surgeon told me that the end result could not be achieved and they’d have to leave the job half done. At that time, that seemed like the end of my world.

Then I reflected, and an empowering sense of balance came to me.

Very simply, I decided to change the way I felt inside. I flicked the switch. I realised intuitively that I had honestly suffered enough pain already, that the people who were caring for me had suffered too, and I could live with the semi-reconstruction. I understood that the way my face looked wasn’t the most important thing in my life. That was a crucial turning point for me, when I knew that I could control the way I felt, and since then I’ve just built on that, so my confidence has grown daily.

I’m still working to get the balance right. And I will, one day soon.