Helping people find balance in their lives is the most important part of my work. And in that time I’ve seen many people decide to take the extreme path towards their approach to life. Balance means there is an even distribution of something or an equal measure of things. Extreme on the other hand is just the opposite. It means something is excessive and other things are lacking.
There can be more than one reason why someone is extremist. Some believe balance is boring and extremes are exciting because something is always happening. Others believe that only extremes will bring them the satisfaction that they seek. And the third don’t really have the self-reflection to notice they are extreme in their behavior. Whatever the reason, let’s talk about the negative sides of extremism.
Firstly, most extremes are difficult to sustain in the long run. For instance someone doesn’t want to be out of shape anymore and decides he or she will start working out and eating healthy. Not slowly of course but with everyday rigorous workouts and a complicated, restrictive diet. Even if people have the willpower, stick to the plan and actually achieve what they set out to do. They either stop doing it because they’ve reached a goal and think it’s no longer relevant. Or they’ve exhausted themselves too much and need a long pause or quit. In both cases they lose the desire to continue.
Secondly, even if we are able to live extremely for a long time, that is usually the period of life we regret later on because we completely disregard other areas of our lives. For instance we may focus solely on career and not raise a family or we may focus solely on family and completely disregard our career. But experiences from people on both sides teach us that both sides regret focusing solely on one aspect in life. What usually happens is we feel like we have to go in the other direction twice as fast to make up for lost time when we change our perspective.
And thirdly, when we are extremists we are making everything difficult for the people around us. For instance if we have a partner or a family and we focus exclusively on them, such a relationship can become overbearing for the other side. Such relationships where partners are living solely for each other sooner or later become quarrelsome and heavy with expectations. And in such families where parents are overly involved in the life of their children and try to control everything it is impossible for children to think and act independently and learn their own lessons.
Extremes may bring short term satisfaction but that usually means a long term disappointment. Extremes can be rarely sustained in the long run and even if they are, regret usually follows such a life period. Every extreme sooner or later balances itself. Unfortunately people who have a strong tendency towards extremes will never try to keep that balance but rather find a new extreme and jump to the next.
Being an extremist is easy, that is why there are so many. Being a balanced person is hard because it takes work. Many people believe that balance is something that happens on its own but it is really not. It takes a lot of courage to stop and self-reflect, responsibility to balance one’s own life and continuous effort to maintain that stability.