Flow: Do’s and Don’ts

by Belinda Munoz on November 7, 2010


Flow. It’s a pouring forth smoothly without overwhelm. It embodies calm and serenity. We know it when we feel it. When flow happens, we wish for nothing more to make it better.

Sometimes, we want something to flow so badly, making way for force to take over. This, I find, is rarely a good idea. It’s akin to putting up a dam, the anti-flow.

I remember a friend telling me about her saga with playing the piano. She showed a love for it early on and her parents encouraged it. In a few years, she put in her 10,000 hours and became a virtuoso player. In the meantime, her parents jumped at every opportunity to show off her expertise. At people’s homes, recitals, community events, etc. Soon, her love for playing soured. She began to resent having to perform on command, being lauded for her unmatched skills, being seen as first and foremost a pianist. As an adult, she disengaged completely from her piano-playing persona, making it nothing more than a story to tell from her past.

Knowing how flow turned into force saddens me about my friend, and yet I understand it. She has so much more to offer the world besides playing concerto music. To be reduced to one thing is not how any of us deserves to be seen. Not when there are many facets of her gem, her life, shining from other angles.

Flow does not like to be psycho-dialed. It cannot be forced. I find that when I force things, flow evaporates. Tension sets in and envisioning a smooth becoming becomes a faint memory. When actions are over-eager and words are harsh, we get into starts and stops. On this rainy autumn day, sodden spirits somehow lift as I sift through soggy facts and extract insight.

To live a life that we want to live, I believe there is always effort involved. But flow, how do we let it be? Here are a few do’s and don’ts that are playing out today:

Don’t try to control everything. Not because we can’t, though we can’t. Instead, because flow and control mix like water and oil. Flow cannot be controlled and control clogs flow.

Don’t turn primal and give in to anger. Anger, though a human reaction, does not attract flow. When negative emotions run high, cohorts walk on eggshells, children cry, . The negative effects of anger are bad for anyone’s health and well-being. Instead, chill. It’s almost always the best panacea for anger.

Don’t be reactionary. When I’m reactionary about something, I never feel like I’m able to catch up. I’m in fix-it mode instead of improve-it mode. I may be putting out fires by being reactionary, but the real question is how could these fires have been prevented? While I don’t believe a life without reactions is possible, instead, cultivating awareness and big-picture thinking encourage flow. Having a broader vision allows us to become better at projecting where the leaks and fractures will come from. Cluelessness and microscopic vision, however, do not.

Do take action from the heart. Doing something with love breathes flowing life-giving energy that no obligatory action ever can.

Do practice. The mere fact of being alive sets the stage for quite a bit of this because, let’s face it, how often can we get anything done right with one take? (Okay, supposedly Clint Eastwood does when he’s directing a film, but he’s had a lot of practice, right?)

Do be patient when flow is slow-going because, as Jada and Will Smith’s son has shown us in the recent Karate Kid film, it can’t be rushed.


  • How do you attract flow?
  • What blocks flow?


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November 8, 2010 at 10:44 am

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Giulietta Nardone November 8, 2010 at 5:08 am

Hi Belinda,

A topic for everyone to “drink in”! Love your “anti-flow” definition because that’s what I used to do – try to force what I thought should happen – I tried to force love, conversations, courage, success, even my singing voice.

I ended up with a serious voice problem.

When I let go of trying to force my life into an artificial flow, it actually started to flow and has been flowing like a meandering river ever since. When I tried to sing “high,” my voice cracked. When I learned to let it go and let my voice go where it wanted to go, I easily soared into the “let go” range — it’s not really high, it’s let go!

Thanks, Giulietta


2 TheKitchenWitch November 8, 2010 at 5:10 am

That’s true, isn’t it? Forcing things never really works. I need to remember this; sometimes I just blaze ahead, and it never quite feels right.


3 Katie November 8, 2010 at 5:32 am

Belinda, I absolutely love these words you’ve crafted and shared today. They feel like an endorsement, a guide, a confirmation, a blessing. They resonate so much with where I’m at today – don’t be reactionary, don’t control – live heartfully and patiently. I’m feeling it sister.


4 Aging Mommy November 8, 2010 at 6:02 am

My husband’s parents had a dream of seeing their son on the stage – he went to dance, ballet, tap and more for over ten years, they drove him to this competition and that, auditions for shows etc. Yes he was good and enjoyed it but he never got to play the sports boys did, on the odd occasion he got picked for the school football team his parents did not come to watch.

I think the worst thing parents can do is streamline a child in one direction – all children need to be able to experience multiple things and figure out for themselves what they enjoy most. Flow not force, definitely.


5 The Exception November 8, 2010 at 7:37 am

Thoughtful Belinda. I like the ideas listed too – to act and not react… I find that there is more flow when I “respond” over anything else. I also find more flow when I stop and “listen” to what is happening. It is difficult sometimes as things have to happen and I have an expectation that they will not only happen but happen in the way that I want… and yet, when I stop, relax and go with the flow…


6 ayala November 8, 2010 at 9:51 am

Belinda, I love your words today. How true that flow evaporates when it’s forced. That’s why we need to be who we are instead of what others want us to be. As parents we need to give our children the freedom to express themselves and become authentic people.


7 Cathy November 8, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I like this and it resonates with me and how to manage my teenager. Force produces so much angst and resistance. It becomes almost impossible to achieve that which was originally set out.


8 Rudri November 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Sometimes it is hard for me to reconcile acting from the heart and not being reactionary. I think there is a balance between those two elements and I am still searching for them. I think we have to respect and accept the flow – sometimes that is so difficult to keep in mind when things don’t go our way.


9 Molly@Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce November 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Oh Belinda, I just love you! We are definitely flowing together because I just posted about observing my reactions and not letting them take me over, and then I clicked over here to hear your brilliant take on flow.

Ah yes, there is nothing better than flow. I’m feeling it now and letting it wash over me. Thanks for the reminder!


10 Molly@Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce November 8, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I’m reposting this on Facebook. It’s a great one for everyone to think about!


11 Charlotte Rains Dixon November 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Your image is so apt, because I once read that water flows. That’s it. Water just flows, and if we remember to emulate it, we’ll be much happier. I know from personal experience that when I’m trying to control the flow things just don’t work out as well. Period!


12 Sara Healy November 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Belinda — This is a well timed post for me. I’m experiencing some blocked flow regarding my writing. I’ve always loved when my writing would just flow. I could sit and just write without a lot of work and effort. That’s been so easy lately.

I think it is partly due to me trying to control things; to make my writing go a certain way. So, I will take to heart all your suggestions. I was to get back to that waterfall and not this mudslide I’m currently in.

Great post and thanks:~)


13 Jingle November 19, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Happy Friday.
lovely blog with talented poetry writing,
I sent you an invitation,
check your spam folder.
thanks for the attention.


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