How to take the stress out of 2018: choose more flow….


I love talking about feelings.

As a psychologist feelings and me are supposed to be friends….. but it was not always the case (and, at times, still isn’t). I used to be totally disconnected from my feelings and it actually made me ill over the years. So this year for a powerful start to the year I decided to combine new year’s resolutions and feelings.

I have been an achievement and success junkie. I like to believe I’m in recovery but there is still a huge temptation to start a year with a pen and paper and a list of tasks and outcomes I wish to achieve. Ultimately I achieve some and don’t achieve others and don’t always feel so good about myself.

Underneath those lists and what I set out to achieve are many deeper needs – the need to exert control and willpower on my life, the need to feel safe and the need to feel good about myself. Do you see all the feelings involved in that…..? All that we aim to achieve is driven by a feeling we wish to acquire.

I have had an intuitive grasp of this for some time so I made my poor, unsuspecting (and very special) friends and family with whom I spent New Year’s Eve join me in sharing the state of being they would like to experience in 2018 (rather than a list of achievements or, worse, a list of all those things that we would quit/deprive ourselves of to feel better about ourselves).

My resolution was (and is still!)  to be in the flow in 2018 and it was only after I started to read Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map, that I was able to intellectually grasp that I was seeking a feeling state directly rather than trying to achieve things to feel something.

Unfortunately we often are not aware that we are actually seeking to attain a feeling and so we do what seems to be the ‘right’ thing to achieve the feeling. However, there are many ways to achieve the feeling state we are after and most of the time we choose driven, success-based achievements that involve discipline and often pain (and a complete negation of our true desires) because that is what society sells as helping us to feel good, safe, loved etc. (This is not to say that we don’t need discipline and achievements – however, if the doing stuff comes up for us as part of what is best (not ‘right’) in the attainment of the feeling state then it won’t hurt so much and be so damn hard!)

This all appeals to me because it ties into what I have shared about the different brains and the importance of conscious living. Doing comes from the head brain and the conditioning and beliefs we acquire as we grow up. Being and feeling arises from the heart and gut brains and when we are consciously in touch with the feelings we will end up doing the best thing  (not the ‘right’ thing’) to help us to acquire the sought-after feelings.

So this is how being in the flow came up for me. I have realised over the course of the last four’ísh years that my Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome has been fed by my desire to exert willpower over life i.e. to attain goals and to do what seems ‘right’. However, this is absolutely exhausting. Exerting control over life and its outcomes is only slightly less difficult than trying to end up in a specific place when you don’t actually know where you are going (that is the definition of unconscious living as far as I am concerned!)

Underlying my need to exert willpower and control and achieve is a very deep desire to feel safe (secure). So driving all this doing is fear. If my desired feeling is to feel safe I have realised that when I live in the flow and in touch with my feelings and listen in to what I truly want I end up living a life of compassion and self-nurturing. It’s so much easier, it’s so much gentler and it actually WORKS. For the first time in as long as I remember I have developed a deep trust of the world and a sense that all will be OK. So by being conscious of what my achieving and desiring was ACTUALLY trying to achieve I was able to put the goal of feeling safe out there as an intention or affirmation and have found that life has just flowed (mostly!) to enable me to achieve this sense of being in my life.

Please note that going with the flow does not mean just going along with whatever others are doing and whatever happens in life. In that picture I have absolutely no thought or care about myself. Flow is about co-creating my life and having an idea of what feelings and being states I would like to achieve and holding these as  guiding beacon to attract the life that will flow for me. Sometimes the life that happens, the opportunities that arise and the challenges that stump me may not seem in alignment but to be in flow means that if I am following my heart and trusting that then the best things will happen (even if they don’t seem to be the right things).

At the end of the day nothing OUT THERE is going to help you to feel what you want. It has to come from IN HERE (I’m pointing to my heart!).

So what can you do to make 2018 a year of flow and ease:

  • Take a look at your list that you’ve created for what you desire/want to achieve and ask yourself what you really want to feel when you’ve achieved and acquired all on your list?
  • Once you know what that feeling state is then make the intention to experience that way of being and feeling in your life e.g. to feel loved, safe, acknowledged, good enough
  • Scratch everything off that list that is a misconstrued attempt at attaining that feeling state (i.e. when you tune into the items on the list delete the ones that cause a little bit of dread and heaviness!)
  • Also make the intention to live more intuitively and to be guided by your heart. See my post on tips on how to do this. The things you DO will then be things that make you feel light and fulfilled.
  • Let your life unfold and observe with interest but not with any judgement or expectations.

Have fun, feel big, live your truth and enjoy the ease of living in the flow rather than trying to enforce your willpower on life to feel a certain way. This is not to say that there will not be challenges and difficulties but if you are trusting that they are part of what needs to happen for you to be where you want to be then you can stop fighting them and resisting life. Imagine that!!


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