Person A: Oh I’m so worried, if I don’t get this done in this year, what would happen to my life after that? I wouldn’t be at the place I want to be. But…
Person B: Stop worrying and just Go with the Flow. Everything will turn out fine!
It probably is. In recent years it has become the Number One most uttered “advice” I’ve heard from others.
Got a problem? Worried about something? Concerned about how the future would turn out?
Don’t. Just Go with the Flow! Don’t spend another minute worrying!
I can see why it has been tossed around as advice though:
It helps you cut out the worrying and soothe the anxiety – for now
And it makes sense. If you aren’t able to figure out a solution for now, it’s best to just not do anything.
Humans like to fret and worry and get ourselves all worked up into an anxious frenzy, as a way to control our situation.
Fretting and worrying even more won’t bring us closer to the solution. We would just be running around in circles but not really making much progress.
So yes, instead of worrying, just letting things unfold and going with the flow seems like the best advice at that point in time.
However, going with the flow can be the worst decision ever or downright dangerous, if you were in the following situations
#1 If the thing you were concerned about stems from a “legitimate” concern
And what I mean by “legitimate” is not the hand-wringing for nothing sort of anxiety, but that you have experienced or seen something that gives you great cause for concern.
For example, you are noticing that in recent months, you’ve been feeling very stressed at work. You don’t feel rested on your days off. You are constantly tired, you are not eating well and you find that you have the most volatile emotions ever. The little things will set you off. You don’t have energy for anything else, especially your hobbies. Whenever an email comes in, it sets your rage off.
Do you have an abundance mindset?
Trying to tell yourself that everything is okay, and that going with the flow is best and that the situation will straighten itself out in a couple of months is possibly some of the worst advice ever.
When I tried to “go with the flow” after experiencing burnout at a previous job, it just heightened everything I was experiencing and made me feel even worse.
Telling myself to go with the flow also meant that I was forcing myself to be more “chilled out” about the whole situation than I wanted to be, than I could be, as I was ignoring my unhappy feelings and forcing myself to be okay about work.
I was prolonging my unhappiness basically. And going with the flow can do that to you – make you prolong a toxic situation unnecessarily.
#2 You may be procrastinating and delaying the decision-making process
When you choose to go with the flow, you are sometimes doing so out of an unconscious reaction to not wanting to make a decision or a tough choice in an area of life.
For example, you may know that you need to end your current relationship. But you keep telling yourself you will do it when the time is right or when you feel better, or that you should feel grateful you have someone who likes you etc. That for now you will go with the flow.
What you are doing is that you are essentially just pushing back a tough decision yes, but one that has to be made. And when we push back, it becomes harder and harder to make the decision that you have been wanting to. You overthink, you have various fears come up etc.
When you need to do something in order to move on properly with life, you gotta just do it. Telling yourself you will go with the flow and see what happens never makes your situation better. You are simply prolonging a bad situation.
#3 It can lead to aimlessness and a life without purpose
The author, Gretchen Rubin, calls it Drift and defines it as the decision you make by not deciding, or by making a decision that unleashes consequences for which you don’t take responsibility.
Simply put, it is just going through life without much thought to implications or the consequences of your actions, you end up just following the crowd and moving from one life stage to another without ever questioning if it is what you really want.
It is not surprising then that people who go with the flow end up drifting for years on end, going about life with a sense of emptiness and aimlessness, like your life has no purpose and you are just living day to day, with nothing very much to look forward to.
This is sometimes how mid-life crisis occurs, or you suddenly “wake up” and feel like you don’t want to be a part of this friendship/relationship anymore, or that this career path is not where you want to be.
Going with the flow can work in certain situations, but we got to put limits on how long we would like to flow for.
If you find yourself constantly hand wringing and worrying about the future, stop and ask yourself if there is anything that you can do for now.
If there isn’t, then yes, go with the flow. But put a deadline on it. Tell yourself you will make a decision on this particular date and stick to it.
Allowing yourself to go with the flow for too long can actually put yourself in situations that are hard to get out of, prolong decisions that you could have made earlier and you end up wasting much of your precious time/life.