Our series Love In 20/20 is inspired by Good Clean Love founder Wendy Strgar's expertise in love and relationships, women's wellness, and her belief that loving is a skill-based capacity that improves with deliberate intention. Follow throughout the year as Wendy shares 20 ways to attain 20/20 insight and clarity to help each of us connect more deeply with ourselves and with others.
The term “go with the flow” is not new. In fact, it was first alluded to by Shakespeare over 400 years ago – and for good reason. Going with the flow of life is one of the most effective ways to create a more relaxed relationship to the events and people surrounding you, while also making you more resilient and adaptable to the ever-present unpredictable nature of life.
Sometimes the cliché comes off like an admonishment, when one is urged to just go along with whatever is happening. But, this is a misuse of the expression I believe, because truly going with the flow begins as an inner reflection – not being cajoled to go along with a crowd.
What do you think?
Going with the flow is a fundamental shift in how we think about our ability to control the events and even more the people in our life. When we walk around feeling responsible for making things work in a specific way with specific timing, we are rightfully anxious. Practicing the art of going with the flow acknowledges that the only reactions we can legitimately influence are our own. Giving up the responsibility of making events line up is like a deep exhale. It doesn’t mean we stop showing up, but it does allow us to be more okay with how things are, especially when they aren’t how we wanted them to be.
Another way to experience flow is to deliberately practice stepping into the unknown. Even small things like taking a walk in a new part of town, or trying a new exercise gym or yoga studio give us the space to be with how things are different than we might expect. Experimenting with widening the bubble of our lives grows our courage to be more spontaneous and also helps us have more courage to deal with the ever-increasing pace of change we all face.
Maybe the greatest gift of getting good at going with the flow is how it can mindfully put an end to our ruminating voice of never being good enough. Most of us still harbor beliefs about getting things just right – making the perfect meal, enjoying the perfect date night, or finding the perfect gift. Going with the flow eliminates this fantasy state by letting things be what they are. You could burn the main course and still have a nice time. Good enough becomes a friendly space, not a disappointment.
With only a little bit of practice at going with the flow, we end up having a wider view and a larger perspective on life. The little things really are little, which gives us the mental space and clarity to come to our senses and experience the wonder of our life. Getting to the moments where we know that the world is not going to conform to our version of reality by pushing harder is a relief and opens our gaze beyond ourselves. People don’t have to become who you want them to be to stay in a relationship with them.
This resulting bigger view of yourself, and life in general, is why going with the flow has been an idea that stands the test of time. When we go with the flow, we can relax into what is and let go of all the many things that distract us from the life we really want to lead. We can breathe easier and stay more present as we become more capable of letting go and letting be. Some would even argue that this kind of flexibility is actually a form of receptivity which enables you to really be aware and more compassionate to other people’s experiences. Going with the flow makes you kinder.