Going with the flow can be challenging when things aren’t going our way. We find it difficult to accept and we feel the need to control our world. These five steps will show you how to have faith through the ups and downs while remaining proactive in your approach. (Estimated reading time: 6 minutes)
“Going with the flow is responding to cues from the universe. When you go with the flow, you’re surfing Life force. It’s about wakeful trust and total collaboration with what’s showing up for you.”— Danielle LePort
I’ll admit that in the past, I was a nervous flyer. I was particularly tense whenever a plane experienced bumpy spells of turbulence.
My hands would get sweaty and my heart pounded so hard that I could almost hear it. I would anxiously look outside the window to check if the wings of the airplane were still intact. I was somehow convinced my concern was crucial to keeping the plane afloat!
My eyes would dart around the cabin to catch the expressions of my fellow passengers. Some were slouched in their chairs with their eyes closed, others looked annoyed as they held onto their drinks to avoid spillage, while others looked as calm as Zen monks.
As the turbulence wore off, I gradually regained my composure and I vowed to get support for dealing with my fear of flying. After one particularly turbulent flight, I arranged to meet with a friend and her husband, Tom, a pilot.
I asked Tom if he could give me basic information about the mechanics of flying. I knew that it was the only way that I could diffuse my nerves.
Tom smiled, saying that I was not the first person who had asked him about the safety of flying. He went on to assure me that planes are built to withstand turbulence and that pilots are well trained when it comes to navigating it through a bumpy patch of air.
He said, “sometimes we try to move away from them, but there are times when we have no choice but to pass through, and the key is for us to avoid resisting the flow of air, no matter how much we wobble. We allow the plane to be carried by the air currents because we trust our instruments and the sturdiness of the plane.”
Tom’s words not only comforted me but also gave me an unexpected breakthrough. I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to real life.
As humans, we like to have control over situations. Uncertainty makes us feel uneasy. In addition to our natural aversion towards the unknown, we face the mounting pressure of meeting society’s expectations.
So we keep pushing under the illusion our lives follow a straight and predictable path. We think it’s a numbers game and that the more we try, the more we increase our chances of getting what we want.
While there’s nothing wrong in trying to actualize your dreams, you should question what those efforts are costing you in terms of your inner peace. Is your need to control and micro-manage wearing you down?
Everything that we do interacts with the natural flow and rhythm of life. It pervades every aspect of nature and all creatures abide by its law and order. Because of our human ego, we try to resist it and fight it.
We find it difficult to accept that even if everything seems like it’s going wrong, it may be exactly what’s needed for our growth and progress.
There is a higher purpose and a plan that we can’t always see from the tiny window of our human consciousness. No matter how well you plan and prepare for things, there will always be aspects of a situation that you can’t control.
Much like flying in a plane, we will go through rough phases where the only way to deal with the mystery is to have faith and trust in what we can’t see.
Going with the flow certainly doesn’t mean that we accept unsatisfying circumstances that do not fulfill us. On the contrary, it should be a co-creative process where we work in a tandem partnership with the universe to manifest our desired outcome.
This means doing the best that we can within a situation, and then releasing our mental grip on the outcome while staying open to all possibilities.
We roll with the punches without getting frustrated or losing hope along the way. We remain objective as we strategically fine-tune our steps.
For example, if you’ve been sending out job applications only to receive one rejection over another, you may feel disappointed and lose confidence in your professional abilities. But it is precisely during times like these when you should stay strong and learn to trust the flow of events taking place.
You stop taking things personally and keep moving forward. In this case, that would mean getting feedback from employers and career counselors on how you can change up your game to get more recruiters to be interested in you. You could also begin networking to meet useful contacts.
Going with the flow is essentially a way of being that requires us to have faith in the process, while remaining proactive in our approach. Here are five ways you can accomplish this:
1. Become less rigid about your path: Having a goals is important but we need to be careful about how attached we get to the road that we use to get there. We certainly need a well-thought-out plan but seldom do things go exactly as planned. There will be detours, about-turns and slowdowns on our way to our destination. That’s why staying flexible about how we’ll reach our destination and being open to making adjustments is crucial.
2. Give up overanalyzing situations: When we want something really bad, there is a temptation for us to examine it from several angles and mentally dissect it until we give ourselves “analysis paralysis”. This is when strategic thinking starts becoming counterproductive. If you feel this happening to you, it will help to do some breath work, meditation and repetition of affirmations to manage your anxious thoughts.
3. Pay attention to clues and signs: Once you silence the mental noise in your head, you’ll be able to hear the inner voice of your intuition, which can provide you with guidance on how to proceed. You’ll also have the awareness to pick up on the hints that the Universe will send your way, in the form of people, events, books, and even song lyrics. You’ll notice that once you let go of the need to control, you’ll attract all the resources and knowledge needed to move away from uncertainty and confusion.
4. Maintain a higher perspective: It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of our daily existence and lose sight of the big picture of our life. A birds-eye view on our situation can give us perspective on the challenges that we face. For example, if you find yourself stressing about why your date hasn’t called you back after so many days, you might want to ask yourself a big-picture question, such as: Will this person not calling me back really matter to me 10 years from now? Does it affect the exciting plans that I have for my professional life or the relationships I have with my family and friends?
5. Trust: It’s next to impossible to go with the flow if you don’t have a basic level of trust in yourself and in the process of life. If you believe in a Higher Power, you need to place your faith in your religious and spiritual beliefs and trust that you are being compassionately guided through a process for your soul’s growth and evolution. If you’re not prone to think in this way, you need to trust in your abilities and inner resources to do whatever it takes to find the support you need to actualize your dreams.
The legendary martial arts actor Bruce Lee, sums up the importance of going with the flow in this quote:
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
Let’s all strive to be like water, flexible and fluid, yet powerful and dynamic, so that we can flow in harmony with the ever-changing currents of the cosmos.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: What does “going with the flow” look like and feel like to you?
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Lou-Ann Jordan says
Oh my gosh, thank you so much for posting this. This morning I was STRUGGLING with much of what is mentioned here. Though I had arrived at a place of “quiet”, this is very encouraging.
Lou-Ann, I’m glad to hear that this post helped. Yes we all struggle with this issue but the good news is that the more we stay mindful of our tendencies to resist, the better we get at it reaching that place of quiet.
Thank you so much for the message. I had a fruitful day yesterday but the same thoughts and how to pull out my POA just as mentioned in the blog. Reading your new post has given me a better outlook of the environment around me. I do have to stay calm with my plans and watch out for how it turns out and stay flexible around me.
Exactly Deepa. Stay focused yet flexible. I wish you the best of luck in your plans!
Kayne Gaynard says
Hello Seline. Great post and I thought Ill share my thoughts on this…
Staying clam and relaxed when plans change have always been challenges I face. I dont like not being in control and hate not knowing what to expect. I try to go with the flow and chill and relax and take things as they come but it is a real challenge for me- glad to know I am not alone.
Kayne, it’s certainly no easy task. But with practice you’ll definitely get better at it. All the best! -Seline