Yesterday, I published Jugglers and Midlife Crisis. I often use the analogy of juggling when dealing with the assorted problems my patients have. I was explaining my concept to a patient, explaining that I envision us as professional jugglers, constantly tossing balls into the air and catching them. Each ball represents a part of our lives and those of others. Yes, others toss us balls to juggle, as well. Some of us don’t know how to say no and end up juggling both their own problems, as well of those of many others (a topic for a future article).
Some of us are better than others at juggling the day to day tasks we all face and how well we juggle those tasks directly relates to the level of stress we experience. Using my model, I ask my patients to name each ball they are juggling (and who owns them) and then take them out of the air, one by one, placing them on the table. By doing this exercise, patients can then organize their problems into groups and then slowly reduce the tasks they are juggling by removing those they can’t deal with, working with smaller groups, and finally finish their tasks in a more reasonable manner.
The patient referenced above was a teacher and life coach. She was familiar with my approach and took the time to share her version of juggling with me. I want to share it with you, as it is excellent. She told me that there are two basic forms of balls we all deal with: one set are made of glass, the other is made from brass.
Glass balls are fragile, and, if you drop them, they shatter into a million pieces. They cannot be repaired. Glass balls relate to health, family, and friends. Brass balls are all the others. If you drop a brass ball, you can always pick it up. It may be marred or dented but can be repaired or replaced.
So, when you are hard at work juggling all the problems and tasks you have to deal with every day, remember which are made of glass and handle them with care. In a pinch, let the brass balls fall to the ground. Catch and cradle the glass ones until they are safely put away, then go back and clean up the mess.