Going With the Flow vs. Fighting for What You Want

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    I’m being faced with a situation that makes no sense to me and I need help understanding where I am.

    For most of my adult life, I only made very calculated, well-thought out plans when things came up, like whether or not to move to a new city/state/country, whether to take a job, whether to move in with boyfriends. I would stress myself out so much deciding if I was making the right decision. And I could usually tell if that decision was being forced. Things would usually not work out – I just naturally felt like I was on the wrong path. Aside from having a habit of trying to control things and outcomes, I lived a ‘grass is greener’ mentality.

    So last year, after being broken up with by my partner of 10 years, I made decisions that I knew would be good for my soul and future – I came home to my hometown to finish my studies. To heal, to witness my emotions, feelings and tendencies. And everything just flowed. I often thought of running away from my pain to something more fun or familiar, but I worked through those feelings thinking that I’m going to get through this. The pain and discomfort.

    Two weeks ago my current and future life that I had been planning for 7 years through my studies came crashing down as my school closed, mid-term. I’m currently in a state of shock and loss because this is the 3rd school I’ve tried to attend and I was putting my heart and soul into my studies like never before. I don’t know what to do…

    So I’m having a hard time understanding different ways of being/reacting:

    – I go with the flow
    – I trust that everything is unfolding exactly as it should
    – I believe that this circumstance will take me where I need to be


    – I have to make plans for my future
    – I’ve learned what I needed to learn from my time here and I need to move on
    – Great injustices are occurring and I need to fight for justice
    – I need to fight for what I want and believe in
    – Hard work and perseverance will get me to where I need to be

    I honestly don’t know how to move forward and fight for what I want while going with the flow and allowing life to take me where I need to be. I’m having a hard time putting all these things together. I want to just listen to my soul and let it tell me where I belong, but I think that in doing just that and getting to the situation I’m in now, I didn’t pay attention to the alarms that might’ve gone up if I had relied on my mind.

    Can someone help me reconcile these somewhat conflicting feelings?

    The Ruminant

    Hi Sandy,

    A third point of view comes to mind: adapting. You can make plans and strive for what you want, but you need to be able to adapt to the changing currents. Not exactly the same as going with the flow as you described it, but close. Think of a surfer surfing the waves or a person sailing a dinghy: he has a plan and the skills, but the environment is constantly changing. He can not rigidly execute a plan, but has to constantly adapt to the environment. It would be stressful, if the person didn’t accept the changes that happen, but he knows that things will never go exactly according to plan, and that is part of the fun!

    Life never goes according to plans either and it doesn’t have to be stressful if you accept that fact.


    Hi Ruminant,

    Well you just hit the nail on the head!

    I know I’m not very adaptable. I imagine myself living as a caveman and not being able to move along and adapt and being left behind to die. I would totally be that last standing native who refused to learn the new language and assimilate with new cultures and societies. This seems like a defect, genetically, but also a form of self preservation.

    It’s ironic… I took control and left my last two schools, saying they were insufficient and incompetent. And now my school is leaving me! And I must adapt or die!

    Thanks for putting this perspective in my mind!

    Crystal Alexander

    Hi Sandy, I know this is old but I am new. I was personally touched by your story as I am going through something similar. I think what the Ruminant said has a lot of merit. We do have to adapt because life is constantly changing. However I think sometimes we need to change our mind-set so we can look outside the box sort of speak or look outside of ourselves. I have once said, our problems are sometimes beyond our PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING. So make it someone else’s problem (not literally); but how would you help them? Sometimes we are so busy trying to control a situation we can’t see all of the available options, we have our blinders on. So when we try to give someone else advice we can sometimes come from a broader perspective. So maybe you should really think about how you may be hindering yourself. If you go in to something with the same attitude at some point you will realize you are getting the same results. Maybe in this case the same result is you trying to put yourself in the right spot and feeling like oh this is not it, or i’m here and it goes bad. Maybe you need to take advice, be that advice adapt, or get more information about what it is you want to do and a different way to make it happen.

    Either way, good luck, I know it will work out


    Hi Sandy,

    I hope to add to the fantastic advice from Ruminant and Crystal.

    It seems to me that your two options are kind of like this: 1) Put in the work/effort and everything will line up, go smoothly, take you where you ‘need to be’, or 2) If things are not going smooth, then it’s time to scramble and fight to get things back on track. Is that accurate?

    If it is, then I know the feeling. I used to see things that way as well. But I’ve learned a few things along the way:

    1) Things are rarely as bad as the seem
    Ok, so things are not going as you’d suspect. Take a moment, and a few slow breaths, steady yourself. As Ruminant said, life rarely goes according to plan. Remind yourself of this. It can feel awkward being off track, like the world is against you, if you’re not going forward with a plan. I used to feel this way, but it’s not like that. Yes, there are dog-eat-dog people out there, but there are plenty of helpful people and situations ready for you. You don’t have to be driving forward all the time. You might just burn out. It’s ok to drift.

    2) The smallest adjustment can make a huge difference
    Just like the surfer who can make the slightest shift to regain balance, you too might be able to do the same. Open yourself to possibilities. For example, are there courses online you can take? Take your time and look for the little things. Who knows what good things just one of those might lead to?

    3) It really is about the journey, rather than the destination
    See the situation as options opening up before you. How about that? YOU get to decide the next step. When you approach it like this, it can be empowering, even fun. Where will it lead to? You might have some idea, but you’ll never know for sure. To me, this sounds like an interesting adventure where you get to choose what you want, think on your feet. Take the experience in as you go. Allow yourself to cheer for the unexpected fortunes, pout at the unexpected failures, and all other experiences. We all go through this, and some are learning to enjoy it as it happens. You can too.

    Hope I’ve made sense and at least some of it applies to you! 🙂


    🙂 Hi 🙂

    Yes – I have sometimes termed things “catastrophic” when in fact my woes are merely “privileged problems”, “minor inconveniences” or “uncomfortable”. It’s not like I lost my legs, or am facing a cancer outlook of 5% recovery, or loosing both my children in a car crash or famine or homelessness etc…

    My thoughts are not me.

    They will attack me though. They will be relentless. They will use language that paralyzes me in fear or leaves my heart racing or contributes to the shininess of my nail clipper. (I used to chew my nails)

    I get to be in charge of me though right? No one else is. I can take that assault or onslaught it (my thoughts) presents, and say ‘thank you – that was a little harsh – lets try again’. I get to over ride my self talk if I am aware that my thoughts are not me – they are not my feelings – and they are not in charge.

    Peace and joy are not attained through ‘things’ or ‘titles’ or ‘stuff’. I sometimes think “If only (insert thing or event) THEN I would be happy”. But no… that external stuff never suffices for long… soon I am empty and starving for more titles, or more stuff, or better hair, or a bigger shinier vehicle… 🙁 I have crammed a LOT of stuff to fill that ‘void’ – and I’m still left me myself and I where ever I go, what ever I call myself – whatever I pull up in – and no matter how big my hair is 🙂 hehe.

    I appreciate this thread guys – lots of wisdom thanks 🙂


    Thank you, Crystal, Natasha and John for taking the time to write and provide support. I will take your suggestions to put myself in the position of an observer to find answers, to view my life as an interesting choose your own adventure/journey, and to constantly be aware and grateful for the blessings that I do have.

    Since writing last, my space has shifted a bit to a place where I’m feeling very alone in my life’s journey. I think I was able to feel very fulfilled through my studies. Without them I see the empty spaces that I long to fill with family and good friends. I remember that my number one priority in life is my family and community and without them, nor my studies/passion, I feel quite empty and confused.

    I think part of my struggle stems from wondering where and what I’m meant to be. I know for years of my life, my life goal was to understand myself and grow spiritually so that I can be a more loving person. Times like these, I wonder if that’s my true path that I need to not stray from. All the rest is extraneous…

    adam weilacher

    A person can also flow too much with negative elements/forces/entities around them….I try to discern the flow that is most going to further my spirit and health and drift with it, but I also interact with the flow…not to change it but to understand it better.


    I know the feeling of being alone in a room full of people, on the outside looking in – or feeling alone when all alone.

    I have gone from that feeling… to feeling a spiritual presence anywhere I go, and never really feeling alone.

    I know that my expectations are quite high sometimes, that once I feel enlightened, I should never back track, only move forward. I believe that sometimes I need to take 2 steps back in order to appreciate the step forward again. I also feel it’s all part of the spiritual path and is set out as it’s supposed to be.

    I honor the peace in you today. Thank you for sharing it. xxxx


    Hi Natasha,

    I came back and re-read the advice that everyone posted and noticed that I hadn’t seen your last post. Funny, but your comments on feeling alone in a room full of people really addressed where I’ve been for the past few weeks. And your first post that mentions that peace and joy aren’t attained through stuff really picked me up when I needed it.

    I have been feeling down in the dumps – doing things that aren’t good for me, but unable to stop myself — looking at my past partner’s life on social media (I’m no longer even on any social media for fear of getting caught up in his life). Seeing the very large social circle he’s in, the cool people he’s associating with, the girls that he communicates with who are in my eyes much more cool, pretty, talented, smart than I am. It’s very hard to observe when here I sit with nothing going on in my life, getting older, no social circle, etc.

    So like I mentioned, I’ve wondering if I would feel fulfilled if I were in his shoes (particularly if I had some cool guys to take my mind off of him) and if he still feels lonely in his situation. I definitely needed to be reminded that our void follows us wherever we go. And now I can focus on filling that void by taking care of myself.

    I just wish I could stop the self-torture with the social media stalking… and being able to detach enough that when he contacts me I don’t get caught up in him again….


    Oh, honey! Don’t do that to yourself! He *looks* like he’s hanging out with beautiful, talented people. But is he? Those girls may have pretty faces, but as they pretty on the inside? We always look our best on social media. If he were suffering, you’d see no signs on Facebook!

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