go with the flow depicted by a river

Learning to Go With The Flow

Posted on Sunday, December 13th, 2009 at 2:13 pm in All Posts, Marriage & Relationship Help, Self-Help.

Updated June 24, 2020

Surrender into Support

Learning to go with the flow is essential in times of great change. As Choquosh, a Native American storyteller states, “The elders have sent me to you today to tell you that NOW is like a great rushing river. And this great rushing river will be experienced in many ways. There are many who try to hold on to the shore; there is no shore. The shore is crumbling. The instructions are: Push off into the middle of the river; keep your head above water; see who else is in the river with you; and celebrate”.

Enormous change

Recently I have been thinking about how much change we are all going through – the tightening of finances for many people, finding ourselves in positions we have never imagined – moving back in with our families, unable to find work, careers becoming obsolete. The world appears to be moving faster and faster and becoming more and more stressful. Unforeseen events and unfinished business are challenging us. Relationships are falling apart, stresses we don’t know how to handle are occurring. Many of us seem to be in the midst of a massive transformation, and we are being forced to search for internal resources, as the external appears to continue to unravel.

Pushing

Some of us have spent our lives developing our competencies. We learned how to make things happen. We learned how to push and we found our value in this, for it kept us safe. But now pushing is not helping us, it is creating more stress. Not accepting where we find ourselves, we try to push ourselves even harder to a “better” place. The problem is that as we PUSH, we are pushing today’s stress into the future. Instead, as we stand in chaos, uncertainty, fear, and discomfort, can we find a way to be in a better place internally, to find a center we do not know? Can we learn to go with the flow?

Surrender and go with the flow

A phrase that comes up occasionally in my yoga class is “surrender into support.” In these stressful times, how can we cooperate with our fate and “surrender into support”? What do we have to learn to move out of a life of struggle and into a life of ease and grace?

Be aware of your energy

One thing that helps me is becoming aware of my “energy.” I notice when I am feeling happy or carefree. I notice when I am feeling stressed. Why am I happy some moments and not others? What is occurring, what am I telling myself? When I feel happy I feel trusting and safe. I am not worrying about the future but usually am immersed in the present. When I am stressed I often am giving myself negative messages such as:

  • “I have to hurry”
  • “I have too much to do”
  • “This will never work out”
  • “I’m not safe.”

Notice how you feel as you read these phrases. You’re probably tensing up. Sometimes as we become aware of our own messages, we can shift them. We can decide to be different. Other times they are attached to deeper wounds that require unraveling. Do you know what you get stuck in, what makes you feel insecure or triggers internal messages that harm you?

Steps to look deeper

If you are working on a relationship or in a dilemma, ask yourself these questions. For example:

  • What is triggering me? – I lost my job, or she is mad at me.
  • What happens in my body? – I tense up, or I check out.
  • What does my mind say? – I have to make this happen, or it’s all my fault.
  • How do I respond? – I worry, or I start explaining and defending myself.

Take a minute and think about one of your struggles. Dissect it with the above questions. Identify the underlying fears. When we are afraid; we get stressed and lose perspective. We no longer go with the flow.

Step back

To surrender into support, step back, and see the bigger picture. When we step back, we are not so caught in the moment and we have more perspective. Our lives involve traveling through different chapters and conditions. We are bigger than the current landscape of our lives. Perhaps as our lives are being dismantled to the foundation, we can rebuild ourselves differently. We can let go of the shore of the river, and find a way to celebrate.

***

For articles on Jennifer’s personal journey of healing and growth go to Jennifer’s Blog.

For articles to help you with your relationships, go to the WeConcile Blog.

This article by Jennifer Lehr MFT has also been published at Good Therapy.org

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© 2008 - 2020 Jennifer Lehr, MFT