Incorporating balance is important in many aspects of our recovery. It is also an important consideration for us to make in our ability to maintain healthy relationships. This final interpersonal skill (walking the middle of the path) will help us to consider ways to incorporate balance in our relationships. The middle path is one of harmony with reality as it is. It does not mean 50% of one view and 50% of another point of view. It is a move away from extreme emotional responses, actions, and thinking, and toward balanced and integrative responses toward life’s situations. It is comprised of:
- Teach us that all things are interconnected and in a constant state of change
- Communication that involves letting a person know that their feelings, thoughts, and actions are understandable
- Validation does not mean we have to validate the invalid
- Behavior change skills
- Use skills to increase desired behaviors and decrease undesired behaviors
In order to better understand this concept, let’s consider an example:
Upon walking into the lunchroom at work to eat his lunch, John notices that his lunch is gone. Doug than comes into the lunchroom and says “I saw Carlos eat lunch already. You know how he is always eating other people’s lunch”. After hearing this, John walks into Carlos’s office and says, “you ate my lunch again…you must hate me! I’m done working with you!”.
John will need to recognize the middle path exists in order to avoid further confrontation. In order to do this, John would first need to accept that his lunch is gone and address the issue with a mindful approach. While John may be angry with Carlos, he also needs to work with him and find a balance. This would mean replacing “either-or” thinking with a more balanced approach. Instead of thinking that he either needs to reprimand Carlos for taking his lunch or let him have it and not say anything, John can come up with a more balanced approach by explaining how he is affected when Carlos takes his lunch and asking him to not do it anymore.
It is sometimes difficult to incorporate balance into our relationships, especially when someone does something you do not like. It is essential, however, especially if our aim is to maintain healthy relationships. Today you can incorporate balance into your relationships by utilizing the interpersonal effectiveness skill “walking the middle path”. By doing so, today you can increase your ability to maintain healthy relationships!