“Going with it.” We hear this saying quite often, or we hear the synonymous phrase, “go with the flow.”
I am not a spontaneous person. I’d like to be, I think, because for some reason I deem ‘spontaneous’ to be synonymous with ‘fun,’ and I’m afraid a lot of the time that people will think I’m not a fun person. Ah, and there it is… “that people will think…”.
One of my biggest resolutions for this year is to be the most authentic version of myself that I can be. At least, that’s the resolution I came up with after reading Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. The tagline is “Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.” Within the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to, if not live, then be aware of what she says in her book and how I face the obstacles she names within my own life. Well, I thought I was doing well, but within the last week I’ve had some large obstacles. Well, mainly one. I won’t get into details because I don’t think it’s necessary, but the situation I was suddenly thrust in had my mind spinning. I was feeling nauseated, I was feeling hot and cold at the same time, my stomach would churn, I was exhausted, and, basically, not ready to function in my normal day-to-day life. I was thinking about all the options presented before me, “what would happen if I did this versus that,” which option feels better to me,” “what would people think if I chose this over that…”
“What would people think if I chose this over that?” More importantly, “what would this specific person think if I chose this over that?”
I base a lot of my decisions on what other people think, mostly because I can think and think and think and come up with several pros and cons to various ideas; I basically think myself silly and end up right back where I started. I would talk to several people who would also have various opinions in hopes of clarifying my own, but in truth, I would just be more confused than ever. Brown touches on this in “Guidepost #5: Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith.” She says,” When we start polling people, it’s often because we don’t trust our own knowing […] We want assurances and folks with whom we can share the blame if things don’t pan out” (p. 88). This was news to me: realizing that the reason I’ve been sharing all my thoughts and feelings with other people in an attempt to clarify my own feelings and hopefully make a decision because I don’t trust myself to make the right one.
It’s so funny because I pride myself on being an intelligent and independent woman, but obviously I haven’t been exercising my intelligence or independence as much as I thought I was. After reading this specific Guidepost in Brown’s book, I was determined to start anew and try and make my own decisions and then, and only then, would I share my findings with people: after I was resolved with my decision.
But, of course, I find that I have failed once again. This situation I was in this past week threw me and I was back to my usual devices, talking to people to get their advice (though I will say that I only spoke to about 2 people instead of 5 or 7, although I really wanted to talk to more). But I somehow managed to make up my mind with what I wanted to say and proceeded to have a conversation with the person this situation involved. And I made the mistake of not speaking first and therefore ended up not saying what I wanted. Foiled again by my own doing! I was so confused after that conversation that I didn’t know what to do with myself. But, the next morning, I decided I wasn’t yet resolved and needed to say what I wanted to in the first place. But before I did, you know what message I got? “Last time I was decisive and you went with it, you know what happened.”
BOOM. There it was: “You went with it.” And it was like a light went off in my head. I MADE THE DECISION DUE TO WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WOULD THINK. Shit. And at the rate I was going, I was liable to do that again. And all of a sudden, what I had wanted to say didn’t seem so important anymore. But I said it anyway and, thankfully, the response made what I had just discovered all the more clear.
So, what have I discovered? I have discovered “go with it,” and it’s not the same as “go with the flow.” “Go with the flow,” implies going with what other people are doing, go with the majority, go with what’s popular, what’s expected. “Go with it” means follow your intuition because 11 times out of 10 it’s what’s right for you and that’s all that matters.
I just want to throw in Brown’s definition of ‘intuition’ because I think it’s a good one, though maybe different than what most of us think the word means: “Intuition is not a single way of knowing–it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith, and reason” (p. 89)
So, here I am on the other side, trying to trust my intuition, going with it instead of with the flow, and continuing to cultivate my sense of authenticity. Here goes nothing! No, wait… here goes everything!