Flow can help you navigate your social life
Flow is full of surprises. I find that the synchronicities which show up are always unexpected. Yet in our social lives it can be so comforting to know what to expect. When we allow flow in our friendships, we may not connect with the person we expected to, but the connections we do make can be deeply fulfilling in unexpected ways.
Recently I was preparing for an event in my hometown. I reached out to people on social media and found many people I knew from elementary school. I noticed that there were some people I almost didn’t click on. Why? Because I thought to myself, “they will never come.” Why do I think that? In some cases it was someone who didn't like me when we were younger, so I assume they still don’t like me 35 years later. In other cases it was someone who I am simply sure is not interested in what I'm talking about. When we were younger I sized them up, yet I really have no idea how they have changed as adults, and I assume I know what they like.
Where do these assumptions come from? I think they are rooted in insecurity. I'm really just still afraid of them rejecting me. I’m worried of being uninteresting to them, just as I was in elementary school.
Flow weaves our lives together unexpectedly
I find that my assumptions are often wrong. In particular, flow leads me to experiences which undermine my preconceived ideas and let new relationships unfold. My practice is to send a message to every person, regardless of my gut instinct. I can’t really trust my gut instinct on who to invite and who to skip, because in this case I have to be careful that my gut is not simply reflecting my childhood insecurities back to me.
When I do this practice, I find myself perpetually surprised by who responds. Ben was a kind of tough athletic kid in elementary school, whom I only knew peripherally as part of a different social group. When his younger brother appeared on my list of contacts, I almost didn’t reach out to him because I remembered how different we were from each other as kids. But I did message him, and out of all my messages that day he was the first one to respond. He said it was great to hear from me, and that he'd come to my event and bring his two kids along as well.
Also surprising is Josh, whom I know quite well as an adult. I feel comfortable in that relationship, and I invited him without hesitancy. Yet I heard back from him that although he's interested in the event, he has a prior engagement.
When we allow flow to guide these types of experiences, we can allow a greater ease into our social experiences. Rather than be attached to those connections we think are the most safe or comfortable, and then being disappointed if they are unavailable due to unforeseen life circumstances, we can take a step back and see who shows up. We can’t control how our lives get woven together. Maybe Ben needs my friendship right now, and my outreach to him makes a big difference in his life. If we stick to the Josh’s in our lives, the known and comfortable relationships, we may find ourselves having nobody show up simply because the schedules just don’t line up.
Living in flow can be useful for strengthening and broadening our social relationships in unexpected ways. When we Listen to who does and doesn’t show up in our lives, Open our minds, Reflect on our preconceptions, Release our assumptions, and Act from that frame of mind—what I call the LORRAX process—we can be pleasantly surprised by the people in our lives.