The Pendulum Principle

Have you ever been so fed up with a situation that you wanted to jump ship and run away?  We can be so aggravated that we think our only option is to call it quits. As human beings, we are wired to run from pain and/or run toward pleasure.

When desiring a change in your life, many of us default to, what I call, the Pendulum Principle. You’re behaving one way and you think the only way to make things better is to swing in the complete other direction and behave the opposite. Sometimes that’s a good idea. Sometimes it’s not.pendulum

The Pendulum Principle is unrealistic and hardly beneficial in many areas of your life. Take the following examples:

“Alright, that’s it. I’m tired of looking at all the stuff in this closet. I’m just throwing everything out.”

“This is the last cookie I’m eating. Ever. Enough is enough.”

“I’m so sick and tired of everyone needing something. I’m never answering my phone again.”

“Ugh, I can’t stand my job anymore. I’m gonna quit.”

In those areas, the only intention is to run away from perceived pain. However, those actions may ultimately lead to more pain: tossing something you need, food deprivation causing binging later, loss of relationships, and financial strain.

Here is when you want to find ways to guide the pendulum away from the pain point with the hopes of scooting it more into the middle. For instance, you could work with a therapist, coach, or professional organizer to identify actions you could take to create more pleasure in what otherwise might be a difficult situation.

There are times, however, when the Pendulum Principle is great and very possibly necessary to Live Out Loud. For example, let’s say that you want to start making yourself more of a priority, but right now, you’re putting everyone’s needs ahead of yours. To kickstart the change, you could put the kibosh on any and all requests that come your way.

As you practice saying no, these muscles get stronger and stronger, and the distance and space you’ve now created from being an automatic “yes” machine gives you a better perspective on where you want to spend your precious time and energy. Then you can consciously decide what you let back in.

By swinging the pendulum in the complete other direction (saying “no” to most, if not all, requests versus saying “yes” to everything) may be just what you need to ultimately settle your pendulum nicely in the middle, where you mindfully decide who you’re available to help and with what.

So, where could you use to adjust your pendulum? Please join the conversation in the comments section below.

Until next week, keep taking those small steps to Live Out Loud.

3 replies
  1. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Hi Kerri–I love this post! In my own life, the pendulum swinging the other way can result in a healthy dose of “hell, no.” As you mentioned, this can mean going from being very open/available to creating boundaries and guarding my time. It can also mean being less responsive to emails or taking a break from a project entirely. When evidence mounts that you’re being depleted, it’s helpful to create a shield. The middle ground will return eventually. =)


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