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  • Writer's pictureDiane Henderson, LCSW

The Five Balls

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Empowerment Tip #4: Empowered People Manage Their Stress Well


"Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, friends, health, and integrity. You are keeping all of them in the air. But one day you come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls--family, friends, health, and integrity--are all made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. Once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life"

--From "Susanne's Diary for Nicholas" by James Patterson

The following are my top ten ways to reduce stress. We will go further into detail about each below. Score yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 for each, with 1 meaning "I am poor at this", and 10 being "I have this one conquered and it causes me no stress".

  1. Trust in a Higher Power.

  2. Take nothing personally.

  3. Say "No" and set strong boundaries.

  4. Don't fret over that which you have no control.

  5. Develop a sense of balance in your life.

  6. Accept other people's weaknesses and build on their strengths.

  7. Stop blaming and complaining.

  8. Delegate.

  9. Think positively.

  10. Belly breathe.

Let's talk about each of these in more detail.

  1. Trust in a Higher Power. There is much research that supports the idea that people who believe in a Higher Power have less stress, less illness, and recover from illnesses faster than those who do not. Notice that I have used the word "trust" rather than "believe". When my clients make the shift from simply believing to trusting, their stress often dissipates.

  2. Take nothing personally. If you never gave your power away to other people, your feelings would never get hurt again. Can you imagine how freeing that would be? The trick to doing this is to remember that whatever that person is saying is only their opinion and they have a right to it. You have the power to decide how much of what they are saying is the truth. Own that part that is true, let the rest go, and move on with your life.

  3. Say "No" and set strong boundaries. I am going to refer you back to "The Line in the Sand" (Empowerment Tip #1) for this one.

  4. Don't fret over that which you have no control. When I have presented Stress Management Seminars, I ask the participants to tell me everything that stresses them out. When we finish the list, I ask them to examine each item they have listed and decide which ones they have control over. About 80% of the items on the list usually fell under the "no control" list. Then, my question to them became, "Why would you spend so much time and energy worrying, stewing, obsessing, and fretting about things over which you have absolutely no control?" To this day, no one has ever given me an answer. I invite you to make your own list.

  5. Develop a sense of balance in your life. The higher your scores on each of these 10 items, the more balance you will have. Remember "The Lesson of the Five Balls" above. You are in charge of your life, and you can do this, as daunting as it may feel.

  6. Accept other people's weaknesses and build on their strengths. It is not your job to fix other people!! You will fail 90% of the time, and that doesn't help your self-esteem or your stress levels. Spend more of your time working on yourself and less on other people.

  7. Stop blaming and complaining. Try this: for the next 21 days, do not allow yourself to complain about anything or blame anyone else for anything. If you slip up, you must start over. As long as you are blaming and complaining, you are part of the problem. I challenge you to be part of the solution. You will experience much less stress.

  8. Delegate. I know that no one can do it as well as you can, but the Earth is not going to fall off of its axis if the clothes aren't folded the way you do them, or an assignment you have given to someone is done a little differently than you would have done it. Women are especially bad about delegating. For some strange and unknown reason, we tend to feel guilty for asking for or hiring others for help. In what book is it written that we have to do it all? If your children can figure out computer games, they can also manage to learn how to use the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, etc. No, it won't get done perfectly, but you will live through it.

  9. Think positively. This is more difficult for some than others. Some of you have negativity in your DNA. But unlike other things in your DNA, this one can be changed. It may take time and work, but it can be done. Make a list of how your life would improve if you were a positive thinker. Won't it be worth your time to work on this? We will have more on this topic in a later post.

  10. Belly breathe. This is important when you are under stress, because it slows you down, pumps oxygen into your organs, and relaxes you. To belly breathe, inhale deep into your stomach and extend it out as much as you can. Breathe in to the count of four, hold it to the count of four, and then breathe out to the count of four. Do this over and over. It's great if you are having trouble falling asleep.


MANTRA TO REDUCE STRESS: "I am enough. I have wisdom enough. I know enough. I do not need to strive or strain, I do not need to reach or worry. I am enough. I allow the Universe to work through me. The Universe is more than enough. And so am I." -- by Julia Cameron

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