How To Avoid The Flow Trap a.k.a the place of stress and twisted knickers

September-11-2016 0 comments

“Now that I feel so good (happy, grounded, in flow…), how can I stay here?”

There it was again.

The question I get asked 90% of the time from my clients, colleagues and friends (one of the heart warming benefits of being seen as the go-to gal in the happiness and flow field).

I think it speaks to a basic human desire to want to hold on to anything that has us feel good: an intimate moment with your McDreamy, a tastebud-tantalizing red velvet cupcake or the April Fresh smell of your newly washed bedsheets.

Can you think of any of recent experiences you’ve want to freeze frame on, just because it felt so good?

In flow lingo, I’d say what you’re looking for is increase your FLOW FACTOR – the amount of time you are in flow vs. out of flow.

And while I believe it’s completely possible to do that, there’s a four letter word that’s getting in your way.  In fact, it’s a downright flow trap.

That trap is the word STAY.  As in, ‘how can I stay here?”.

Why is it a trap?  Because it implies that our feelings, our desires and even our circumstances are constant.  It implies that we don’t change and that it’s even possible to ‘stay’ in any place forever.

The truth is our mental states, our feelings and even our goals change as often as the weather in the UK.

Let’s take feelings for example: one minute I’m giggling at Jimmy Fallon’s latest “Box of Lies” sketch and the next, I’m shedding tears watching the latest RomCom (Me Before You, anyone?).

Or how about goals: seconds after I’ve nailed down the art of a “traditional” basil pesto, I’m swiping on Yummly, looking for the next new secret sauce.

Even at a cellular level, there is a renewal process happening all the time.  Proof in the pudding – who else needs to frequently clean out plugged up shower drains?


Secondly, although we think we want minimal fluctuations in our moods and experiences, according to Positive Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, that would simply lead to boredom.


flow-diagramIn his research on the state of consciousness called flow, he discovered that flow is a constant balancing act between anxiety, where the challenges in our lives are too difficult for our skill level and boredom, where the challenges are too low.  People are happiest when they are engaged and stretching themselves, not when they’re floating around in stay-ville.

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 

Knowing that, let’s come back to that question: When you’re feeling on top of the moon, in the zone and like your days are Disney-picture perfect, how can you stay there?


FIRST, MILK IT. Do whatever you can to fully pour yourself into that experience as deeply and for as long as you can.  Get present to what you’re feeling.  If it’s appreciation, feel the appreciation.  If it’s ease, slip into the ease.  Savour every moment like Mindy Kaling savours a chocolate bar.  Bonus points: get the 411 on what’s helping you feel so good.  Are you honouring a value for creativity?  Are you having mind-blowing limiting-belief-busting chats with your biz buds? Or maybe finally starting to believe that you ARE worthy of the compliments your clients shower you with?  Identifying this will help you build this flow pathway and help you find your way back when life throws you the next challenge.

SECOND, EMBRACE CHANGE.  Learn to embrace change like you’d embrace a foot massage after a four hour trip to the mall on a long weekend (in heels).  Building on the research I mentioned above, change is inevitable when you want to be happy because it involves trying new things and stretching yourself. Finding a way to become besties with uncertainty will save you from unnecessary frustration.  One question to can ask yourself in times of uncertainty is: “Do I want to be in the exact same place as I am now – in 10 years?”. Wearing the same jeans? Using the same phone? Earning the same salary?

This question always liberates me because I know deep down that I want to evolve and progress in my level of consciousness, in my relationships, in my business and yes, into a new pair of jeans!


Alright, now it’s your turn.  In the comments below, tell me:

What’s one thing you will do the next time you are in flow to leverage that state and milk it till the cows come home? OR What helps you accept and allow change when it comes knocking at your door? 


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