Unnatural Flow States and You

Dear you, reading this,

It has been a doosey of a month. Lately, the topic of “being yourself” has come up a lot. In one instance, a friend told me he felt he couldn’t be himself because when I pushed back at his jokes, it threw him off his game. In another, a romantic interest was opening up about her pet peeves and in my head, I exemplified each one and started analyzing each move instead of paying attention to her.

Whenever this kind of talk is brought up, I am reminded of flow. Flows comes up frequently when talking about mindfulness. There is a state that can be achieved where your actions no longer have to be calculated and yet produce results. It’s a sort of invincibility. You don’t have to think about what your doing because your body has that covered and your mind, while focused, is just along for the ride. Through a certain lens, I assume it must feel a lot like being yourself. You couldn’t be anything else because you are simply being and, you are yourself, doing what you do best in a flow state. This extends to relationships and groups. At some point all memebers will be flowing and perhaps a few might get the feeling of “We are being ourselves.” Part of the fun of meeting new people is learning who you are together and getting into that flow state. That takes time.

There are ways to hasten the process. This principle is the basis of team building exercises and line dancing. Doing the same thing at the same time with someone in a positive environment gives people a commonality to branch out from. It establishes a group in the first place. One could make the case this is why adultery is so focused upon in western civilization. If acts of physical intimacy establish a romantic relationship then what happens when its shared with someone outside the relationship? I could write a whole section on that, but I would only need to do so if I was working within that framework. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to love or be loved.

I want to talk about what happens when you become afraid of your flow and the reactions to it. Just because the group or relationship is flowing as itself, doesn’t mean you have stopped being you. In both the examples of strained relationships, there are points of contention rooted in fear. In the case of my friend, he feared I would perpetually put him in a place of an aggravating jerk. In his defense, I would occasionally warn people he hadn’t met about his temperament and after a recent tiff, I briefly posted a video outright calling him an asshole. His complaint stems back to a time when he cussed out a girl who was trying to get me to cheat on my girlfriend at the time. Those two points were unrelated. I don’t think he knew the girl was flirting with me and they were fighting because she wouldn’t listen to him. Should I have stepped in and tried to make peace? Sure. Should I have stopped hanging out with the girl after she made her intentions clear while knowing I was in a monogamous relationship? Perhaps. What happened instead was my friend yelled at the girl until she cried and left. I, in turn, gave him a hug for solving my problem for me. Now, I maintain that I could not have foreseen that. That being said my friend has pissed off plenty of women and I knew she was the type that he pisses off. Did I charge the lazer? Yeah. He isn’t proud of what happened that night and has voiced feelings of being used. I don’t blame him. There is a real fear of that happening again. I won’t deny that I would watch if he went off on somebody. What occurs more often is he will dominate conversation with people, discussing topics that we’ve already been over. On top of that, he will do it in a manner that undermines a variety of things, some of which I quite enjoy, and then insult my friends to my face. Sure, The jokes still land occasionally, but gone are the days of laughing at a turn of phrase. Now it’s nervous laughter at the audacity of a man who feels that I am too self righteous. It may be the case that he only acts that way around me. He may be that way around everyone and I’m the only one who calls him out on it. Either way, the result is if he doesn’t want to be an asshole, he can’t be around me. If I’m around and he’s an asshole, there’s no way of knowing if I pushed him into it.

This brings us to the concept of an unnatural flow state. Much like how we can have good and bad dreams, flow can leave you feeling a rush like never before or show you things about yourself you wish you never knew. Society labels these as, psychotic breaks, manic episodes, fugues, or crimes of passion. Although, who among us hasn’t done something they wish they hadn’t in a moment of brazen confidence? In my case, I beat my brother up so bad the school was about to call child services, I’ve made sexual advances that were inappropriate, I’ve forgotten commitments that were important, and I’ve done severe damage to property. My Brother and I have made up but that night haunts me. I am incredibly grateful for the people that have forgiven me and hope to make amends to those who haven’t. So when a romantic interest I was seeing started making mention of her past with abuse and issues with men, I was reminded of the past instances where I had reacted poorly. I too have been abused by lovers in the past. Nothing as severe, but still enough to question someone’s motives. As we communicated more I started seeing the behaviors that triggered those kinds of reactions. I don’t know if she saw it too, but she started putting distance between us and frankly, I’m bummed but alright with that. There’s a chance that we could both find ways to live happy and healthy together. As it stands, it seems neither of us trust each other enough to put in the effort. She’s had times when her willingness to be vulnerable put her life at risk and I’ve had some where I put myself and others at risk. Neither of us want that risk between us whether, physically, emotionally, spiritually, or financially.

Some talk of a unified flow that weaves through everything. All our greatest achievements and heart wrenching tragedies are but eddies in the current that is our universe unfolding before us. Some say you can tap into it. That seems ridiculous. If it’s everything, you cannot detach from it. That being said, that flow will most likely forever be out of your grasp. There is more to the universe than knowing and so one cannot know the universe and all that jazz. It’s wonderful to be yourself, to tap into your flow state and do what you do best. It is amazing to flow with others, to be part of something greater than yourself working as one. Just remember that it is not an end unto itself. The flow or zone that an athlete or creative gets into is the same state that school shooters and Qanon posters do. We all have the capabilities for helpful and harmful flow. When you realize the shooter or nutjob within, some think they can only either go with it or refrain from flow. If you go with it, you do hurtful things on the premise of being yourself. If you refrain from flow, you second guess every step you make and miss out on part of what’s great about being alive. So don’t be afraid to step out of your flow for a while. You don’t always have to be yourself! You are always learning and forgetting skills and ways to interact with your environment. If you find that you’ve been experiencing unnatural flow states or people you can’t flow with, take control of your breath and look for the next step. Also, don’t be afraid to jump back in when you’ve done some learning. It feels really good when you feel like yourself and others respond positively. If it’s not too much to ask, help others when you figure it out. The violence is always out of hand.

As always, thank you for reading,

-K-Wullums

J say of the day: Oh yeah we can, but It’ll cost ya