I was jetting around the waters of Key West, Florida in a two-seat mini race-boat on my way to check out a marine sanctuary, when the boat came upon a sandbar and the boat’s propeller got stuck.
The guide, whom I’d been following, called over to the man driving my boat and told him to turn off the motor and walk to the front of the boat. That way, the propeller would be lifted out of the sand. As instructed, the six-foot tall and roughly 240-pound driver of my boat got out of his seat and carefully walked to the tip of the boat.
“What do I do now?” he asked. The guide responded, “You wait.” We were stuck in the middle of the Everglades and all we could do was wait until the current slowly pushed us back into water deep enough to safely restart the engine.
Dark clouds were rolling in and I was beginning to feel more and more impatient yet the guide didn’t seem to be fazed. He sat calmly in his boat waiting for us to drift into deeper waters. And as we waited, and waited, and waited, I suddenly understood the saying “go with the flow”.
Like my experience stuck in the water of Key West, all of us have had moments—or even weeks or years—when no amount of resisting, scheming, thinking, or forcing will change a situation. For instance, if I had decided to fight against what was happening by forcing the motor to do its job in spite of being in shallow water, I could have damaged the propeller. And for what?—my situation would have stayed the same, or worsened, and I’d still have been stuck.
During those times when you’re dealing with something that can’t be changed, you have choices. You can choose to struggle, battle, and cling, and remain stuck—stuck in an unfavorable situation, with negative feelings. Or, you can choose to go with the flow—in other words, you can choose to accept the situation, let go of negative thoughts about it, and open up to a change in direction.
Is there an area in your life where you’re feeling stuck? Perhaps you’re feeling stuck in an unsatisfying job or in an unhappy relationship. Or maybe you’re feeling stuck reliving past events that are causing feelings of sadness or regret. Use this awareness as indicator that it’s time to go with the flow—use it as your inner compass to get you moving again in a new and positive direction.
To go with the flow, ask yourself these three questions:
- Will any amount of thinking, forcing, or coaxing alter my situation?
- Which thoughts and old beliefs do I need to let go of?
- In which new direction would I like to head?
First ask yourself: Will any amount of thinking, forcing, or coaxing alter my situation? If the answer is no, accept that fact. Without acceptance, you’ll continue to fight, resist, and struggle, which will erode your joy and energy. On the other hand, accepting the situation for what it is and choosing to go with the flow will bring tranquility, peace, and lightness.
Next, ask yourself: Which thoughts and old beliefs do I need to let go of? Let go of any thoughts about the situation that are causing upsetting feelings; such as impatience, jealousy, fear, or anger. One way to do this is to trust that out of every situation, good will come. When you choose to believe that good will come out of every experience, you’ll soon discover that perceived obstacles are really blessings in disguise. Sometimes these obstacles serve to nudge you in a new direction—one that will open up your world to magnificent experiences. Sometimes they help you become a stronger, better, and wiser you. Take all the positives you can out of each experience and choose to leave the negative feelings behind.
Finally, ask yourself: In which new direction would I like to head? It’s important to understand that going with the flow doesn’t mean you drift aimlessly and allow the tide to determine where in your life you’ll end up. It’s fulfilling to decide where you want to go and then take the steps to get there. In my situation, I was using the current to take me to where I wanted to go—into deeper waters so that I could restart the motor and continue on my way to the marine sanctuary. I still knew where I wanted to end up. However, in going with the flow, I was simply no longer fighting the situation and I released my desire to control how I got to my destination. Take the time to determine in which new direction you’d like to go.
Back on the race-boat, my impatience had shifted into inner peace. Twenty-five minutes later, we were in water deep enough to restart the motor and we sped off to check out the marine sanctuary. I saw some pretty amazing things on that excursion, yet I think what I treasure the most from the experience is my awareness that in order to get free from life’s unchangeable situations, I had to simply go with the flow.
You can free yourself and go with the flow too: Accept the situation for what it is, let go of negative thoughts associated with it by trusting that good will come out of every experience, and open up to a change in direction. Allow the natural current of life to take you on a marvelous new adventure.