Why “Go With The Flow” Is The Ultimate De-Stressing Mantra
What comes to mind when you recall that familiar phrase?
Is it a cute surfer á la – “Go with the flow brah”?
Or is it something a little deeper?
A couple of years ago I became familiar with the phrase via author Shakti Gawain’s book
In her book, Gawain explains the theory of ‘go with the flow’, in correspondence to the ancient Chinese philosophy of Tao. Taoism is a philosophy which teaches a life of ‘ease’.
Of all of the amazing messages in Gawain’s book, this passage in particular really resonated with me:
““Let us imagine that life is a river. Most people are clinging to the bank, afraid to let go and risk being carried along by the current of the river.
At a certain point, each of us must be willing to simply let go, and trust the river to carry us along safely.
At this point, we learn to “go with the flow” — and it feels wonderful.
Once we have become accustomed to being in the flow of the river, we can begin to look ahead and guide our course onward, deciding where the course looks best, steering the way around boulders and snags, and choosing which of the many channels and branches of the river we prefer to follow, all the while still “going with the flow.””
“At a certain point, each of us must be willing to simply let go,
and trust the river to carry us along safely.
At this point, we learn to “go with the flow”
— and it feels wonderful.”
– Shakti Gawain
‘Flow’ is about leading your life’s course with minimal resistance.
‘Flow’ as Gawain explains it, is about leading your life’s course with minimal resistance. It is about allowing the course of your life to unfold, whilst making conscious decisions about what is ahead of you.
If you believe, as the theory of Tao suggests, that your life is like the course of a river, then the path of least resistance is to simply go with the flow.
For me this was a HUGE ‘aha’ moment, and I hope too that it can be of benefit to you.
It’s applicable to the smallest of situations – like the frustration of a traffic jam – all the way through to big decisions like your life parter or job.
Read on to discover why I believe we can all do with more conscious ‘flow’ in our lives, and how to incorporate this teaching into your life so that you too can de-stress and allow your life’s course to unfold.
Anyone can apply this to their life. It’s all about letting go, and – you guessed it – going with the flow.
Here’s the thing, we’re all working at 1,000,000 mph
We’re all working at 1,000,000 mph.
Everything in life is fast nowadays. The way we communicate, the way we try to action ideas, work, rest, play . . . it’s all happening so quickly.
Some faster things I am truly grateful for – like 30 minute workouts, Uber and my first coffee of the day – but other things can do with slowing down.
We are so used to immediate gratification through social media, and our digital outlets, that we forget to plan for the long term. Not only that, but we berate ourselves if we don’t see results immediately.
Wanting everything to happen right now, not only adds unnecessary pressure, it allows no room for doing things well.
How often have you thought that you could execute ‘x project’ so much more effectively, if only you had more time?
What if you made more time? Extended your deadline? Chose to scale back on some commitments so you can go hell for leather on others?
‘Finding your flow’ can help you with all of this and more.
Heels: Old – Very Similar
Basket Bag: Bought In Menorca – Very Similar | Belt: Vintage
What Does Flow Look Like?
The theory of ‘flow’ counteracts that need to go at 1,000,000 mph. It allows you to look at your entire life as a course, one which you can choose to lead with less resistance and more calm.
Being ‘out of flow’ looks like (for me):
- feeling friction
- being ‘edgy’ with others
- it may manifest itself in a physical way
- being ego-driven on the basis of ‘gains’ or ‘shoulds’
When I am ‘out of flow’ things feel overwhelming and I second-guess myself a lot.
Being ‘in the flow’ looks like:
- feeling good
- feeling energised
- making decisions from my intuition and gut instinct
- saying no when I don’t want to do things
- saying a big “yes!” when unexpected ‘feel-good’ opportunities arise
When I am in the flow my mind, body and soul feel aligned and generally happy.
“My belief is that when things
feel instinctively wrong,
You May Have Been In And Out Of Flow And Not Even Recognised It
I would bet good money that you have been in moments of flow, and conversely moments of friction.
There will have been times in your life when everything ‘unfolds’ beautifully, and times when everything is an uphill battle.
My belief is that when things feel instinctively wrong, they are. And this can throw up some really difficult decisions.
Last year for instance I had a big work dilemma I was going back and forth on. My ego wanted me to do one thing (to stay in the situation and try and figure it out) whereas my gut instinct was telling me to leave the situation, miss out on the (potential) financial reward and follow the course which felt most liberating and ‘true’ for me.
Eventually, after six months of angst, I went with my gut instinct and it was immediately as if a channel has become unblocked. Or rather, that I had finally, and consciously, ‘gone with the flow’.
As with all big decisions which I ultimately made following my gut instinct, so many GOOD things came – almost immediately – from following the course of least resistance.
Note – Less Resistance Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Work Hard
When I’m ‘in the flow’ sometimes I question why it feels so darn easy. In fact, sometimes I question if it should feel ‘so easy’?
I wrote in my journal after Big Small Business in April that “it was the hardest I have ever worked, and it was the easiest thing I ever did”.
When things are right, you may still have to work like crazy to realise them and make them come to fruition, but they will feel easy because you are on the path which is ‘right’ for you.
So, What To Do If You Are Out Of Flow?
As with all tricky periods, once you have recognised that you are in a tough spot, you are half way to getting out of that situation.
Just recently I had a few weeks of total upheaval. I was feeling so stressed, ‘out of flow’ and upset. It took me a good couple of weeks to finally recognise how out of sync I was, and to open up to trusted friends about it.
Once I recognised where I was, everything began to get better, because I could focus on getting back ‘into my flow’.
Interestingly, Flow Doesn’t Necessarily Favour Routine
I have an on/off relationship with routines. Sometimes I am militant with my morning practices, exercise classes and work regime, and other times I set no alarm and literally follow the ‘flow’ of each day.
There is no right or wrong answer, and this is where your own instincts come in, but when I feel like breaking routine, I know I have to do it.
If you follow the work of Jess Lively, one of my favourite podcasters and a huge fellow ‘flow’ advocate, then you’ll have learnt of Jess’s feelings on focusing on your emotional frequency over intensity.
Jess’s theory is that we all need to get into ‘alignment’ in order to work effectively. It’s about working in a much more intuitive way, rather than hustling or working Really Hard.
If you’re interested in this line of thought – check out Jess’s podcast – she goes in depth into this subject. Jess also has a course all about living your life through flow – Flow With Intention Online.
So, How Can You Incorporate ‘Flow’ Into Your Life?
1 – Learn About It
If the theory of ‘flow’ is new to you, or you’d like a refresher, then educating yourself on flow is the first step.
You can check out Jess Lively’s Podcast.
You can also read
2 – Recognise When You’re In The Flow, Or Not
The first step to getting ‘back into flow’ is to recognise when you’re not in it. If you are tired, frustrated or anxious, the likelihood is you are out of sync.
Try talking to a friend, journaling, meditating – whatever you feel may help you to get back into your flow.
For me I like to talk things through, get some perspective, journal and focus on my own wellbeing for a while until I can see a clearer path ahead. Sometimes there is no immediate answer, it’s just a case of resting and waiting a little while.
3 – Prioritise Your Health & Wellbeing
One major stumbling block for flow is exhaustion.
You must look after yourself first and foremost.
Your health and wellbeing is your greatest asset, so look after it as if it is. Everything becomes clearer when you feel good, so try and recognise what your body needs at any one time. I’ve been following the Camille Styles Cleanse for a couple of weeks now (not as strictly as the first week btw) and have felt so much more energised and aligned for it. I truly believe in the connection between mind and body – I’m conscious to look after them both.
4 – Extend Your Deadlines
Remove the pressure of overwhelm by cutting yourself some slack.
My friend and BSB co-creator Laura recently wrote about this on Instagram and I couldn’t agree more!
Take tasks off of your plate, extend your deadlines or delegate.
So often we take on WAY too much, only to feel depleted when (naturally!) we can’t do it all. Instead of looking at the immediate future, try looking at the long term – you can use my macro to micro to-do listing technique to assist with this.
5 – Learn To Distinguish Your Ego From Your Intuition
If there is one major lesson Jess Lively teaches (and yes, I am a super fan!), it is how to distinguish your ego from your intuition.
Jess explains this beautifully (and much more eloquently than I do!), but essentially the way I have come to understand it is this:
When you make a decision based on your ego, it will leave you with an ‘icky feeling’. For example, you may say yes to an invitation because you feel you ‘should’, even if you really don’t want to go. Here, you’re thinking with your ego and it’ll likely leave you dreading that date or even cancelling it last minute.
On the flip side, when you make a decision via your intuition, you will only feel calm. When you think about that same invitation and turning it down, you feel calm. So why don’t you go ahead and do so?
That my friends is the difference between ego and intuition. Your intuition doesn’t always ‘make sense’ in a traditional sense, but it’s your gut instinct which is ultimately looking out for you.
I have personally found that when I make decisions from my intuition, not my ego, I get into flow (and stay there!) much more easily.
Side note: we’ll be talking more about ego on The Elgin Avenue soon!
Learning to ‘go with the flow’ and keep that mantra close to mind has been one of my greatest aides in life.
It helps me to make choices, and to allow things to unfold naturally in a way which feels ‘right’ for me. Rather than battling against my own instincts, and leading with my ego, when I keep ‘flow’ to mind I follow the course which feels most natural and comfortable for me.
Fortuitously it is when I am in ‘the flow’ that I most often see the results I desire too, like greater inspiration, more energy and more positive opportunities coming my way. Those may have all been things which I could have sought more fiercely, but somehow what is mean to come to you will do so, when you allow it to naturally.
What’s Your Take?
Have you got to grips with the ‘go with the flow’ theory? Do you know when you’re in the flow, or not? How do you get back on track if you’ve been out of sync?
I’d love to know your thoughts! If you have any questions too, please do pop them 👇🏼
Love, Monica x