The only thing we can control in the face of life change is our reaction. And this alone might be enough. A 2018 study found that accepting our mental state, our negative thoughts and emotions, was more connected to better psychological health six months down the line than actually accepting a situation itself.
If someone hurts us and we say nothing and pretend we ‘just accept people as they are’? We carry that rage around with us, and project it into future relationships. Our attempt to ‘go with the flow’ ends up backfiring in the long term.
And if we don’t set boundaries with disrespectful people, we will end up in a constant state of stress that an affect our health.
“Go with the flow” – or denial?
Yes, ‘going with the flow’ can make us happier if it means we are open to new things that come after life change. And if we are not wasting all our time trying to change other people, but are reserving our energy for working on ourselves instead.
What is the worst thing that could happen if I made a choice to move on?.
But I tried, and I can’t move forward
If we try hard to have a better life but keep coming up against difficult situations? It is less likely to be ‘bad luck we have to accept’ and more likely that our unconscious mind is driving us to make bad decisions again and again.
Unless we learn to recognise and challenge our beliefs, we take such beliefs with us into adulthood and unconsciously make all our choices based on such beliefs.
Because we have decided the world is dangerous, we unconsciously choose to rent an apartment where the landlord is obviously shifty and tries to scam us. Because we believe we are unloveable, we pick a destructive relationship even when we knew that person had a bad reputation. But we convince ourselves these things ‘just happened’.
When going with the flow really does work
Do you need to control every last detail of your life? And get very upset when things don’t go to plan? Then going with the flow can be a positive exercise in letting go.
But be careful to not try to even try controlling ‘going with the flow’ by pushing yourself to be good at it, or doing it a certain way, to a certain schedule, exactly how you read in a book… !
Instead, listen to how you feel. This is something we never do when we are a control freak. We listen to the schedule in our head, or what we think is ‘right’.
Set aside some time (that you may or may not use all of) and don’t fill it with any plans.
On the day, see what you feel to do or what comes up and try to follow it.
If you really feel frozen, try going for a walk without a plan of where you are going.
Keep checking in with how you feel, and practice mindfulness – “what do I notice around me right here and now?”.
Still have a question about if you should or shouldn’t go with the flow, or want to share an experience with other readers? Ask below. Note that all comments are monitored and we are not able to provide a free counselling service over the comment box.