Please Note: Linda's blog has moved to her new website:
From now on, please visit her new website to enjoy all her upcoming blogs


January 22, 2014

How do we go from burnout to blessing? How do we maintain the elusive balance that can give us a genuine pace of grace? A breath of peace whenever we need it, time for beauty, for prayer and reflection, for play, for free time with family and friends. There is an epidemic of overdoing that has spread throughout the world in the past decades. There has been a kind of urbanization of private life -- the chaos and thrum, the noise and rushing of a big city penetrating even the smallest town or island. It seems we have identified busyness as the meaning and purpose of life. "Are you busy?" people ask each other, as if that is the measure of a valuable life.

I have been reflecting for many years on the idea that virtues, if carried to excess, can become vices or sins, in the sense of being off the mark. Too much kindness to a tyrant or a thief without accountability, tells them to continue as before. Too much assertiveness without tact can be hurtful when telling people your truth.

To stand on our holy ground, in a place of certitude and confidence, requires us to discern the growth virtues that balance our strengths, the teachable moments that the patterns of our life keep bringing before us. Here are a few steps:

1. Identify your strength or core virtues.

Name five virtues which you have naturally or by practice, developed well. These are the virtues you can rely on in yourself and they come when you need them.

2. Reflect on what happens when you take them too far.

One might say you can never love too much, but love can morph into possessiveness, obsession or jealousy, whether love of an individual or an idea. Genuine love requires balancing virtues such as detachment and independence. Contrary to the idealized western version of romance, personal love doesn't mean two people merging into one. To be whole, we need both intimacy and solitude. Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote: "... once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as whole before an immense sky."

When you think about it, even the virtue of Unity, so badly needed in our world today, can become excessive, if it turns into people-pleasing, or peace at any price. It must be balanced with Justice for each individual and Assertiveness as well. Unity does not mean conformity. It is a coming together in our diverse ways, respecting our differences while focusing on our common purpose, but not demanding rigid compliance. It is agreeing on guiding principles and faithfully abiding by boundaries set by the group.

3. Identify the growth virtues you need to cultivate in order to balance each of your strength virtues.

A colleague recently consulted me about this, and realized he needed to balance his strength virtue of Idealism - big dreams, big vision - with Self-discipline. As Stuart Schroeder of Canada Corrections Chaplaincy once told me, "The difference between the dream and the vision is the work plan."

One of the imbalances I have experienced and also witness in many others is Compassion and Caring for others at the expense of self-care. What happens is that we drain ourselves dry for a cause or a person we love, and continue trying to give care when we are operating on empty. This can turn into compassion fatigue, exhaustion, depression or resentment -- not at all what we had in mind. So we need the Assertiveness to set boundaries around our self-care, our own rest, our own Joy, activities that restore us, and Trust that it is not all up to us. This requires us to detach from control which too often accompanies care and go with the flow, balancing our need to give and our need to receive, our need to care and our need to retreat. It isn't really all up to us anyway!

4. Begin to consciously practice balancing the virtues you have identified.

One of the most classic examples of balancing virtues is Forgiveness and Justice. I heard His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak of how we can forgive as long as we promise to be guardians of Justice so that an offense doesn't keep happening. We must protect ourselves by walking a clear path of Justice. This is spiritually best not only for the victim but for the perpetrator. Setting clear boundaries around our own emotional, physical and spiritual safety is essential. It is a way to make amends to ourselves for allowing people to drain our energy or violate us in some way. It is as simple and powerful as making a personal commitment to ourselves and then keeping it.

As we experience the dynamic balance of virtues, we can feel the solidity -- the Certitude -- of standing on our holy ground, living by our deepest truth.


Author photo
Linda Kavelin-Popov

More Posts:
    (July 23, 2016)

  • Time Management for Spiritual Efficiency
    (July 13, 2016)

  • Virtues are the Keys to Success
    (June 29, 2016)

  • The Gifts of Family
    (June 9, 2016)

  • Family Reunions: Blues or Blessings?
    (June 1, 2016)

  • Mothering
    (May 17, 2016)

  • Learning to Die
    (April 29, 2016)

  • The Power of Presence
    (April 15, 2016)

  • Set Your House in Order
    (March 30, 2016)

  • An Easter Journey
    (March 21, 2016)

  • Living Whole Heartedly
    (March 17, 2016)

  • Determination – the Dream Keeper
    (February 24, 2016)

  • Educating the Whole Child
    (February 3, 2016)

  • Virtues in Paradise
    (January 22, 2016)

  • New Year Hopes for 2016
    (January 12, 2016)

  • Reflections on a Year of Humility
    (December 31, 2015)

  • Home is where the heart is
    (December 15, 2015)

  • Coming Full Circle
    (November 24, 2015)

    (November 14, 2015)

  • Gathering for Gratitude
    Global Mentorship Canada 2015

    (October 30, 2015)

  • Raising the Virtuous
    (October 6, 2015)

  • Too Blessed to be Stressed
    (September 21, 2015)

  • Balance Your Virtues
    (September 8, 2015)

  • Whatever You Do
    (August 30, 2015)

  • Recognising Teachable Moments
    (August 7, 2015)

  • Celebrate Life
    (July 27, 2015)

  • Tap the Power of Thought
    (July 2, 2015)

  • Hope
    (June 17, 2015)

  • Call on your A Team
    (June 6, 2015)

  • From Violence to Virtues
    (May 24, 2015)

  • Banking on Virtues
    (May 18, 2015)

  • A Mother’s Virtues
    (May 9, 2015)

  • Virtues Shine
    – in a South Pacific College

    (April 28, 2015)

  • Being a Good Spiritual Accountant
    (April 23, 2015)

  • Bullying in the Workplace
    (April 13, 2015)

  • Easter
    (April 2, 2015)

  • The Best Present
    (March 13, 2015)

  • A Virtues Valentine
    (February 14, 2015)

  • Cleaning Up Our Act
    (February 10, 2015)

  • A Pace of Grace for 2015
    (January 18, 2015)

  • Choosing Your Best Life in 2015
    (January 2, 2015)

  • Gifts from the Heart
    (December 22, 2014)

  • Transform Holiday Stressing to Holy Day Blessing
    (December 6, 2014)

  • An Attitude of Gratitude
    (November 27, 2014)

  • Simple Ways to Bring Joy to Children
    (October 25, 2014)

  • A Perfect Day
    (October 8, 2014)

  • Let Peace Begin with Me
    (September 18, 2014)

  • Islands of Love
    (September 4, 2014)

  • Keeping Love Alive
    (August 16, 2014)

  • Integrity: Taking the High Road
    (July 27, 2014)

  • Parenting in Paradise
    (July 18, 2014)

    (July 6, 2014)

  • Help Strikes Again
    (June 24, 2014)

  • Help for Troubled Souls
    (June 13, 2014)

  • Tapping the Power of Wisdom
    (June 1, 2014)

  • Path Finder
    (May 9, 2014)

  • Discover Your Joy Quotient
    (April 17, 2014)

  • Trustworthiness: Lemon with a Twist
    (April 3, 2014)

  • Spring Forward
    (March 20, 2014)

  • Appreciation
    (March 7, 2014)

  • Virtues Path for a New Year
    (December 31, 2013)

    (December 17, 2013)

  • Thanksgiving is Conducive to Bounty
    (November 28, 2013)

  • Flow
    (November 11, 2013)

  • SUCCESS-ion Planning
    (October 23, 2013)

  • In the Moment
    (September 22, 2013)

  • Be Here Now
    (September 17, 2013)

  • Grace in Our Tests
    (August 19, 2013)

  • A Pace of Grace Revisited
    (August 5, 2013)

  • Only Us
    (May 29, 2013)

  • Barbecues and Blessings
    (May 8, 2013)

  • Decisions in Paradise
    (April 23, 2013)

  • Daffodil Memorial
    (April 14, 2013)

  • How Full is Your Fruit Bowl?
    (March 20, 2013)

  • Rediscovering Joy
    (March 12, 2013)

  • Planning Your One Wild and Precious Life
    (January 30, 2013)

  • The Power of Intention
    (January 4, 2013)

  • From Violence to Virtues
    (December 21, 2012)

  • What can we do – before and after a tragedy?
    (December 15, 2012)

  • The Presence of Light
    (November 30, 2012)

  • Circles of Compassion
    (November 21, 2012)

  • Dare to Stop Postponing Joy
    (November 5, 2012)

  • The Rain of Grief
    (October 27, 2012)

  • Opening to Gratitude
    (October 18, 2012)

  • The Power of Gratitude
    (October 8, 2012)

  • Time to Celebrate
    (September 22, 2012)

  • The Gifts of Waiting
    (September 13, 2012)

  • Linda’s First Post
    (September 1, 2012)