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  • Writer's pictureGabby Pavlovic

Finding "work / life balance" in a digital age

Updated: Jun 5

As an online practitioner, I've recently been battling with the idea of being consistent and showing up regularly online, whilst also ensuring I’m taking time away from screens and the digital world generally.


I want to find this balance between the two, mainly so I can stay sane, but also so I can remain connected to myself and the people in my life who I appreciate and love. I also want to maintain strong connections to things that I enjoy the most, the things that I like to experience outside of my work.


I felt called to write about this because recently I took some time off for the first time in a long time. My partner and I went up to sunny Queensland, where we had a great time soaking up some sun, fresh air, good company, and it was really wholesome. But in the lead up to that break, and even getting back home afterwards, I’m noticing how I’ve really established my "baseline" as being centred around work. And that’s not something I want to make a long-term habit of.


Gabby in a palm forest with very tall palm trees
Enjoying a wonderful palm forest on the Sunshine Coast

Now I’m not sure about you, but I want work to live, not live to work.

I love what I do, but the thing is, when you love what you do, it can be even easier to fall into the habit of overwork, or over-striving, because you justify this, because hey, “I love what I do, so it's all good!"


Or perhaps you might be on the other side of the coin. Maybe you don’t love what you do, or you’re doing something that maybe doesn’t 100% align with your true purpose, but it’s paying the bills, and it’s a good security blanket.


Maybe you’re somewhere in between… but we can all relate to the idea of knowing how important it is to achieve a level of balance in life.


I'll be honest, it has been difficult trying to maintain a state of balance among what I consider work, leisure, rest, and so on. Balance is not something that comes easy to me.


Maybe this is something you can relate to?


Balance is something I am constantly looking to achieve in different ways, because my life ebbs and flows in different and unpredictable ways. I think that’s something we need to remember.


What feels “balanced” for you today might not bring you that same level of ease, calm, and joy, tomorrow, next month, next year.

If you’re someone who tends towards self-criticism when you don’t achieve the things you want to, whether that be goals you’ve set or like we’re talking about here, a state of balance for yourself, there can often be feelings of guilt.


Let’s use the example of finding what we often refer to as a “work/life balance”. There can be guilt around not achieving this balance. You might even add “find a work/life balance” on your to-do list, making it something you feel like needs to be achieved or accomplished, or checked off and accounted for.


If you don’t get to tick it off (which you probably won’t, because there never seems to be enough time to get everything done) and you don’t get to achieve that balance you’ve set out to achieve, you might feel like you’re doing something wrong.


If you’re conscious of this, and you’re conscious of this tight grasp you have on feeling compelled to get a million things done, you might feel like there's something that you're doing to sabotage your success or sabotage your sense of calm and peace and balance or your sense of regulation and ease that comes with having that ideal "work life balance".


Recently I had a conversation with Gemma Hanley, a women's anxiety coach. She mentioned that self-sabotage is a term that is actually quite detrimental. In fact Gemma tends to avoid using that term herself, because what we consider (or what society considers) “self-sabotage” is actually a self-protective mechanism.


It is actually a way that our body adapts to a circumstance which it is unsure about, or which it thinks is going to put us in harm's way. It sees whatever we're dealing with as either a real or a perceived threat.


By “self-sabotaging” our outcomes or progress, or creating behaviours that drive us away from achieving our desired outcome, instead of looking at that as us doing something wrong, instead of self-attacking and internalising this guilt, perhaps we should do the opposite.


Perhaps instead, we could say to ourselves, "my body, my mind, and my entire nervous system is trying to protect me from something now" and be curious about what that might be.



The power in looking at this concept in this way is we can now see that there is a deeper layer to the behaviour, there is a deeper understanding that needs to be had about any resistance that's coming up to achieving the ideal outcome.


Viewing “self-sabotaging” behaviours as a self-protective mechanism is something that makes sense to my mind. We can actually use this as an opportunity to delve deeper into what the deeper concern might be for us. What is the fear driving this protective mechanism? Is it a fear of change? A fear of success? A fear of failure? It could be so many things, but we don't know unless we inquire and are curious about it.


Fostering curiosity towards these feelings that we have is something I think we should all encourage in ourselves and in others, because the more we can maintain a sense of curiosity, the more we can start to learn a about ourselves and each other. With this knowledge, we can hopefully communicate better.


Perhaps I’ll illustrate what I’m trying to get at here with a personal example.


Lately, when I've been finding that I'm not showing up regularly on social media (as an example), I'm consciously moving away from that feeling of self-attack, like I'm doing something wrong, like I'm not showing up to the people who care about what I do, and are curious about what I do, and instead I'm moving from a place of feeling self-critical feeling, a sense of guilt, feeling like I should be doing better or doing more, I’m moving from that place, to a place of curiosity around why I feel this way.


And I think the way I feel or the reasons why I feel this way around showing up constantly in the digital space, might not even have anything to do with belief systems or conditioning that I have. It might even just have to do with the fact that evolutionarily, we are not adapted to spend our time in a digital world.


We are operating in a world that our minds, bodies and spirits have not been able to adapt to quick enough. Simple as that.

This idea of an evolutionary mismatch is something I'd really like to delve into further in podcasts and in written material, because, to be quite honest, this mismatch is what I am essentially educating people about every single day in what I do.


And most of what my job is, is helping people to remember who they are. Helping people to remember that they are nature, they are not separate from nature. We are not entities that are attached to screens. We do not have appendages that are digital. These little black mirrors our eyes are glues to for hours on end are not extensions of ourselves.


We are flesh and blood and spirit, and so if you're not showing up in a space and you feel guilty because of that, maybe the deeper need there is the need to feel connected to yourself. The need to feel connected to who you are. And there are different ways that we can connect to who we are.


Connecting to the self can be done in many different ways. And in my podcast with Gemma Hanley, we talk about doing inner child work as a way to connect to ourselves.


We can connect to ourselves in ways that appeal to us. Not everyone will want to do inner child work. Some people like to meditate. Others like to connect to themselves by doing something creative, especially with their hands. I find that encouraging people to find a creative outlet where they actually use their hands brings them out of their mind and into their body and allows them to connect with themselves in a way that they otherwise would not be able to.


Other ways that people connect to themselves can be through things like dancing, playing an instrument doing some kind of art or hobby in another way. It might be sitting quietly and peacefully without any stimulation.


Connecting with ourselves involves a state of being and creating what Gemma referred to as a sense of spaciousness.


So I'd like to ask you, where can you create space for yourself today? Where can you create spaciousness in your life, where everything else is busy and go go go?


Where can you actually provide spaciousness in your life so that you can just be with yourself, so that you can connect with yourself, and so that you can really be curious about what it is you need?


So, there are a few things for you to reflect on today!


Feel free to journal on this, it might be something you’d like to explore further if you do like to journal your thoughts out.


Upon reflecting on what I’ve just shared, I realise now that what I need is some space from the digital world.


And so I am not sure what my life will look like moving forward as a practitioner in the digital space and as a podcaster. But I know that achieving a state of balance between spending time in the virtual world and spending time in the “real” world, or the world of nature, is something that I am working on. It’s something that I’m learning to do, and learning to adapt with, as I grow and evolve as a person.


So, if you’re in the same boat, it is absolutely okay if you haven't figured it out yet.


In fact, there will always be more to figure out!


So whatever balance you're trying to achieve in your life, whatever goals you're trying to set for yourself, give yourself credit for how far you've come in getting closer to that.


If it feels like you're moving two steps forward, four steps back, that's also okay, because we are still moving, slowly but surely, and that's always better than not moving at all.


I hope these thoughts and reflections give you something helpful today, and if you'd like some one-on-one support to help discover how you can find more balance, improve your health, and become more resilient to the stressors of life, book in for a free chat with me and we'll see how I can help.

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