In some form or another, this is a question I have asked clients many times over the past few years.
Because amongst the high performing types, with whom I work mostly, lies a pattern of extreme behaviour.
They're either performing at maximum intensity, right on the edge of what they're capable of, or they're crashing. Burnt out in a cloud of their own tyre smoke.
For some, this manifests in their health, with extreme athletic performance on one side, addiction on the other.
For others, it's work related: rapid business growth one side, bankruptcy on the other.
And for a fair few it shows up in their relationships. They're either head over heals, or alone.
Different edges, same pattern.
Making Sense Of It
As with all human traits, making sense of it is both incredibly complex and frighteningly simple.
For brevity, and because I'm not that clever, I will try the simple explanation.
Three years ago I was on a call with a client as she described her tendency to self sabotage, when suddenly it hit me.
She was constantly either flying too close to the sun, or too near the water, because it was at these extremes she was guaranteed to be seen!
For her, the space in between represented invisibility.
It mattered not that both extremes were dangerous and unsustainable for her, she'd take burning or drowning over being invisible any day!
Let's be clear, for this client, or any others, this is not a conscious act. They're not waking up saying "I must avoid the middle ground today".
Rather, they're being guided by a deeply encoded set of beliefs as to who they are and what they need to do in order to be 'enough'.
For many, if they're not at the top of their game, or in the grips of a crisis, they are nobody.
What To Do About It?
If I tried to provide any specific 'how to's' here, I would be falling short, so I won't do that.
What I will do is draw you to a very simple human trait which may help you makes sense of it.
We do things for two reasons only:
1) To avoid pain
2) To gain pleasure
Thank fully, we're all different. What is pleasurable to one person is painful to another (cycling uphill for example).
One of the main guides as to what we consider pleasurable or painful, good for us or not, is our belief system.
If you believe that exercise and hanging out with other lycra-clad people is a good thing, you'll do it. If you don't, you won't.
Likewise, if deep down, you BELIEVE that by occupying the space in between extreme behaviours, you will not be seen and therefore not be enough, the same patterns will keep playing out. Even if intellectually you know it doesn't serve you.
If however, you believed that occupying this space would leave you feeling at ease and capable of being your best self, you'd probably find those edges softened somewhat.
If any of this rings true for you, I'd love to hear from you so please do get in touch.