Life is complicated. Everyone wants wellbeing – a life of health, happiness, and success – but unfortunately most of us were never taught the specific methods to live such a life. We’ve been trained to think there is some sort of finish line where wellbeing is all of a sudden achieved. This isn’t the case. Quite simply, wellbeing comes down to 2 things:
It’s the combination of these 2 that allow you to live a fulfilling life. But the trick is you can’t really have one without the other. Assertiveness is the key to being balanced, but only a person who is balanced in all areas of life is able to be assertive. It’s a circular relationship, but for our purposes we’re going to start with balance.
Let’s get started!
What is Balance?
“It’s all about balance.” We hear this all the time. We read it in books, see it on TV, listen to it on our favorite podcasts. But what does it mean to be balanced, to live a balanced lifestyle?
An athlete requires physical balance for peak performance.
An accountant’s job is to balance the ledger to keep finances in order.
A lawyer or judge are depended upon to balance the scales of justice.
An engineer must balance the laws of physics with the visions of a developer.
The list goes on across many professions and areas of our life.
For our purposes, a balanced person is someone who pays the necessary attention to all 8 areas of life – what I call the “8 spokes” of The Wheel of Wellbeing.
All of us were born balanced – in a state of equilibrium – but then genetic predispositions and the environmental pressures of life changed that. As we grew up we created defense mechanisms as a means to fight insecurities, but those insecurities manifest themselves into imbalances. We start to pay attention to certain areas of life while ignoring others (i.e all work and no play).
The CEO who is highly focused on work at the expense of his physical shape and relationships.
The gym rat who works out 20 hours a week but can’t hold onto a job.
The booksmart genius who is always learning but never playing and has a hard time relating to people emotionally.
All of these people are imbalanced. They may be really good at one thing but they are being weighed down by other areas of life. Now I’m not suggesting that being balanced means you can’t be really good at something, but I am saying that all areas need to be tended to as to not have any negative impact.
To summarize, the key to wellbeing is balance, and the way to achieve balance is by being assertive in the 8 spokes of life.
The 8 spokes
Think of your life as a wheel, with 8 individual spokes. Each spoke on its own is critical to the wheel, but only when working in unison they allow the wheel to move forward. A wheel that is broken or imbalanced simply gets stuck. One that is balanced moves forward gracefully. Balance requires equal attention to these 8 areas: Physical, Mental, Emotional, Relational, Recreational, Environmental, Spiritual, Financial.
At the core of our lives is our physical being – the body we live in. Being balanced physically doesn’t mean 6-pack abs and 8% body fat (although it can), it means being your best physical self. Getting good sleep, being free of pain and ailments, and sexual vigor are signs of a healthy physical being. The best ways to achieve this are with proper breathing, a regular fitness practice and healthy nutrition.
Constantly growing the mind is the key to our mental being. Learning shouldn’t stop after school, it should be a way of life. The person who excels in the mental spoke expands their mind through continued education, reading, and engaging in thought provoking conversations. Only ⅓ of our functioning brain is programmed from birth, the other ⅔ is information we acquire through childhood and the rest of our lives. Our ability to protect ourselves against unknown, dangerous, or catastrophic circumstances rely on our mental capabilities being intelligently developed.
Emotional intelligence is our capacity to recognize our own and other’s emotions. It starts with our ability to discriminate between different feelings and using that information to guide our behavior and actions. Strong emotional intelligence will form the foundation for your relationships with others. However, since your feelings have often been brushed aside this capability is often jeopardized.
The first 3 spokes covered our personal beings both internally and externally, but the Relational spoke deals with our connections to other people. The key to having successful relationships is having clear boundaries and communicating effectively. All failed relationships will point to either of those as the root cause. The connections we have with others and our desire for intimacy are vital parts of our wellbeing so it’s important to nurture our ability to foster positive relationships.
Our happiness and growth is achieved through playful learning, joyful action, and leisurely relaxation. In other words – Have fun! Recreation is one of the spokes that often gets sacrificed by all the other pressures and demands of life. Paying attention to your need for recreation is vital to wellbeing. Having hobbies, playing games, taking vacations, exploring interesting topics – all these are necessities to a well balanced life. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself.
We are affected by our surroundings. Living in different climates, cultures, or conditions play an important role in the quality of our life and performance. The environmental spoke deals with our relationship with our surroundings. Utilizing your space effectively can create more safety, comfort, and efficiency. Decluttering your home or office or maintaining a beautiful garden can increase your productivity and overall satisfactions.
Spirituality is about connecting with a higher power. Some consider this religion while others may call it universal energies. Ultimately it comes down to belief of a unifying system that governs the rules and empowers people with intention. Showing gratitude, living by a code of ethics, and giving back to communities or charities are all ways in which we connect to higher powers.
Financial freedom allows us to focus on all the other spokes of the wheel, yet it’s only achieved when our values are balanced. The money we make, the satisfaction of our job, our level of security, and our future prospects all play important roles in our financial wellbeing. In other words, your self worth is cultivated when all the other spokes have been nurtured and tended to.
Achieving Balance in the 8 spokes
In future lessons we will cover specific things you can do to strengthen each of the spokes, but first it’s essential to have the right mindset and behavior. The only way to ensure success and balance across the 8 spokes is by exhibiting an assertive personality. The other 3 personality types are all signs of imbalances. Let’s take a look.
The passive person constantly avoids confrontation and seeks approval. Often times they put the needs of others ahead of their self interests, which is self sabotaging and stunts the accomplishment of one’s goals. As they cannot reach desirable outcomes, they end up damaging both their health and relationships.
Aggressive personalities are fundamentally at war with anyone or anything that stands in the way of their desires. They use intimidation to get what they want without much consideration for other’s needs. They seek the dominant position in any relationship and like to exercise their power on others. These people are always engaged in endless challenges. As a result others are either intimidated by or will be guarded against these personalities to avoid their domination.
Passive/Aggressive personalities indirectly express their hostility through procrastination, stubbornness, and repeated failure to accomplish tasks for which they are responsible.
Their actions are often seen by others as tricky and unfair. They use a combination of passive and aggressive behavior. This personality imbalance is the most common and leads to problems in relationships or work situations.
The only positive characteristic that helps you with achieving your goals is being assertive. As an assertive person you will not sacrifice personal wants and needs to satisfy or please others. You will be able to express your feelings and confident enough to ask for what you want without intimidating others or being afraid. Your self-esteem will not be submissive to the opinions and demands of others; instead, you are securely in charge of your affairs and capable to manage your life without breaking self or others’ boundaries. By being assertive you are in balance; you will not allow your rights to be jeopardized and you will not disregard others.
How to be Assertive
Assertiveness is a byproduct of Security. Only a secure person, grounded in their beliefs, can be assertive.
Security = Responsible Choices
Making responsible choices across the 8 spokes will allow us to feel secure. If you know that you are paying appropriate attention to your physical being, understanding your needs, cultivating your relationships, organizing your goals, and doing rewarding work you will feel secure. If you’re making irresponsible choices in any of the 8 spokes you will start to feel insecure and eventually display passive or aggressive traits.
So we’ve come full circle. Wellbeing is achieved through balance across the 8 spokes. We can only be balanced if we exhibit an assertive personality so that we don’t sacrifice our goals or crush others along the way. Being assertive stems from feeling secure, and our security comes from making responsible choices each and every day. So if you follow the chain down, you will see that wellbeing ultimately comes from making responsible choices. There’s no finish line with wellbeing at the end. It just comes down to making the right choices in the 8 spokes. It’s really as simple as that.
My goal with this course is to help you make responsible choices in each of the 8 spokes of your life.
Take note of which personality type you display most often. It can be a combination of them as well because we often react to situations differently. Try to identify times where you can be assertive instead of any of the other personality types. Write down 3 examples of times you were not assertive and what you could have done differently.
For example do you remember a time when someone asked you to do something you didn’t want to do?
If you said “yes” unwillingly you were being passive.
If you said “no” in a challenging or fighting way you were being aggressive.
If you said “yes” but procrastinated and made excuses you were being passive/aggressive.
If you said “No” in a polite way and communicated your reasons why, you were being assertive.