A lot of people will tell you to ‘go with the flow’. How many know what they’re talking about.
Today, I wanted to riff a little bit on the idea of ‘flow’.
The idea of ‘going with the flow’ has become very buzzy in recent years, but like a lot of things that make their way into the cultural zeitgeist, it’s not always clear what we’re talking about.
Generally ‘going with the flow’ means letting yourself move with the currents of life, offering up little resistance, floating along like some sort of cosmic jellyfish.
That’s nice. It does sound like a kind of relaxed way to live – never having to fight for anything. It sounds lovely. But it also sounds like terrible advice if you want to get anything done.
Anything worth winning takes effort. If it’s worth fighting for, at some point you will have to fight for it, I can guarantee it.
But if at this time of challenge you just decided to roll over and ‘go with the flow’ of whatever counter-force is bearing down on you, you will never get anything done.
Only dead fish go with the flow, as the saying goes. Jellyfish get eaten by turtles.
That said, there is something worth paying attention to here. There is a state where you are ‘going with the flow’ and making great thing happen.
And I think the key to that state is to recognise that there are always multiple flows in your life. At any point in time, you are being pushed around by multiple currents at once.
Maybe it’s the flow of your childhood conditioning. Maybe it’s the flow of parental expectations. Maybe it’s the flow of cultural norms. Maybe it’s the flow of your own soul’s unique mission.
The key is to ‘know your flow’.
(There you go. That’s my contribution to the zeitgeist. “Know your flow”.)
Knowing your flow is about building a robust self-awareness that allows you to understand what force is pushing you in what direction, and which of those forces you should be aligning yourself with.
So you know, maybe your childhood conditioning taught you to avoid conflict. Today, going with that flow means rolling over every time you meet someone pushy.
Know that flow, and resist it.
However, at the same time, you might be deeply inspired to travel and seek out foreign cultures. That’s something that excites your spirit.
Know that flow, and go with it.
And in that sense, going with the flow should feel exciting. It should feel uplifting and energising. It should not leave you feeling defeated, and definitely not feeling like you have just betrayed your own inner child.
What I am describing might sound unfamiliar to some people – like if you had to explain driving a car to someone who never has. (What does uplifting actually feel like? What excites my spirit?) But once you know how to read all the dials and gauges, once you understand what it is your looking for, then it all becomes pretty straightforward.
So know your flow. Find what it is that is driving towards where you want to go and who you want to be.
Then, and only then, do I give you permission to relax into it and ‘go with the flow’.