The Drive for Stability
Human beings yearn for predictability and stability. We don’t function well in unstable conditions, or more accurately, we don’t think we function well in unstable conditions. We actually work very well in chaotic situations, but we still yearn for stability. In all of our interactions and engagements, we want to get to the point where we see predictable results. Unfortunately, once we get that, we often create chaos, usually by disrupting the stability with the drive for more accomplishment or the drive for more acceptance.
But it’s true – we function very well in chaos. In fact, chaos is the norm, not the exception. The forces that work against chaos are predictability and stability, so when life and sport become difficult, stability looks very inviting. And it’s that desire that motivates us to find a new coach, or read new material, or examine each and every facet of our games – these are all attempts to create consistency and stability.
I like to think of our brains and minds as snow globes sold in airport bookstores. With the snow resting softly on the ground, the scene is tranquil and picturesque. But with a flick of the wrist, the water-filled globe suddenly turns into a raging blizzard. Little pieces of imitation snow fly everywhere, continually pushed around by the current. Only after a time does stability return – the water quiets and the snow settles to the bottom of the globe. You can’t speed this process up.
Finding Stability in the Chaos
Life can be the same way. Our snow globes are often turned upside down. Our lives swirl, our minds spin, and the world seems to move faster and faster around us. The senses become overwhelmed, and we yearn for stability. We’re not always patient enough to let life settle back down on its own, however, and the harder we try to influence the process, the worse things get. Simply accepting the fact that the snow is going to float around chaotically for a while will go much further than curling up on the ground and crying that the water isn’t clear. Accepting whatever stability you can find within the chaos is a choice.
Ultimately, stability comes from the chaos, not in spite of it. The longer we enjoy stability, the closer we get to turning it upside down and starting again. It is a matter of time, not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of humanity. In fact, the more chaos there is, the more that becomes the norm, and that actually becomes stability. It may sound strange to think of it that way, but the contrast in the moment is often where anxiety arises from.
Let me explain in a bit more detail. Too many people get caught up in worrying about the next potentially negative event that they find it impossible to live in the current moment. It’s as though the uncertainty of the future means more to them than the living breathing experience they’re having right now. The reason for this is that the present moment, regardless of how much chaos is going on, is actually a known commodity – it’s stable. It’s easy and common for us to accept and minimize the known moment because while we want stability, chaos is easier to embrace as a standard. Conversely, when we’re in the middle of chaos, stability is craved.
How to Gain Stability in Life
Gaining stability in life and sport is about understanding what causes stress and what brings comfort. Learning to identify the sources of your stress – even if they happen to be things that you think you enjoy – can help with the stability process. It’s not about eliminating things from your life, but rather understanding the impact that those things have on you. It’s about moderation and buffering the impact.
The power of stability comes from the fight for it. Stability is truly ingrained by the daily effort to eliminate stress and to appreciate the predictability of the factors that make you a better person. We all want that, regardless of our background, belief system, or comfort zone.
To be successful, you have to know what drives you. But when you use one drive to fulfill another drive, you lose balance in life. Success and accomplishment cannot create stability in the long-term. Each drive must be invested in independently. One cannot ever fulfill the drive of another. Only when you value each drive for its own purpose can the stability of the human psychological drive take over. The game is hard enough that stacking the drives against you will only cause more problems. In order to be successful, you need to understand how each drive impacts you and how your internal motivations are aligning to gain success.