Have you ever felt like life is a process of continuously paddling your boat upstream? If you have, you know the experience feels challenging, frustrating, and pointless. Despite your great effort, you move forward only a little, if at all. And for every few feet you gain, you lose twice as many when your craft ends up in the current running counter to your desired direction. Like gravity, the river carries you downstream despite your best efforts to go upstream.
Contrast that experience with whitewater rafting or a slow float down a river. Then, the only effort necessary is to push your raft into the current and glide down the river. Of course, you might want to paddle occasionally if you are headed for a rock or the shore. But even without a paddle, the river naturally puts you in the flow. It carries you along—and it does this best if you don’t try to control the direction or interfere in any way.
Effort or Flow?
But what happens when your entire life is like an upstream boat trip? I’m sure you realize that eventually you will get tired and frustrated and give up—and with good reason. Paddling upstream is not a pleasant or easy way to live. However, suppose you approach life like rafting. In that case, you will feel excited, energized, and ready to enjoy the ride—whitewater and all.
Which life would you prefer? Effort or flow? I choose flow.
I want my life to be like a rafting trip, but I’ve been paddling upstream for a long time. If you can relate, it’s time to turn the boat around and throw away the paddle, is it not? I think so.
Broken Strategies for Paddling Upstream
I’ve paddled upstream in a lot of different ways. I bet you have a few often-used strategies as well.
For example, I’ve done what was expected of me or what I was told I “should” do—and I kept doing these things until I was miserable. I’ve also mistrusted my intuition and acted counter to its guidance with less than favorable results. Plus, I’ve been more concerned about what others will think if I do X, Y, or Z rather than simply doing what I feel called to do and allowing myself to enjoy my efforts. If that’s not enough, I’ve also focused on making money over pursuing my passions, which left me with little income and a general lack of enthusiasm for life.
I could add more broken strategies to that list, but I won’t bore you. Plus, if you weren’t aware before, you now realize how you’ve been paddling upstream in your own unique way.
Indeed, I’ve spent many years paddling upstream. But not anymore…
Turn the Boat Around
Right here and now, I am choosing to turn my boat around. In fact, I’m trading the boat in for a raft, giving it a shove, and traveling downstream propelled by the current.
What does that mean?
It means I will no longer do things that feel frustrating, too hard, or unfulfilling. Instead, I will do things that feel enjoyable, easy, and fulfilling.
And I will follow my intuition 100% of the time. I will not mistrust its guidance and do what I think—or worse, what others think—I should do. Instead, I will follow the advice offered by my soul.
What about you? Will you continue trying to paddle your boat upstream, or will you turn it downstream and allow your life to flow?
Said another way, do you choose a life of struggle or ease? The answer is a no-brainer, is it not?
So how do you turn the boat around—especially if you think doing so will cause you or some aspect of your life to capsize and drown as a result?
You Won’t Capsize or Drown
First, know that everything always has been, is now, and will be fine. You might capsize, but you won’t drown. You can right the boat and get back in or float downstream without the boat. In other words, trust in God, Source, Creator, or the Universe to keep you safe and get you where you are going.
And if some things fall out of the boat along the way, c’est la vie. It’s to be expected, and it’s okay. When you change, your life changes. And in both cases, the transformation causes things you no longer need to drop away…and sink to the bottom of the river. Accept that fact, and you won’t worry about what you might lose in the process of turning your boat around.
If you are like me, letting go and “letting God” can feel hard! I’m a pusher, controller, and solver. Trusting that it will all work out okay without me doing anything to achieve that result feels uncomfortable. But I know it’s what I need to do now. To use a different metaphor, if life is like riding a horse, I need to give up the reins and let the horse choose the path and speed to my destination.
Use Your Body to Steer
Second, tap into your body and emotions. Your soul speaks to you through physical sensations and feelings. Thus, you can use these to help you steer your boat. Use sensations and feelings as your GPS.
For example, if doing something makes you grit your teeth or have difficulty breathing, it’s a surefire sign your soul is guiding you away from that choice. And if something makes you feel like you’re body has relaxed, and you’ve taken your first deep breath in days, that’s a sign that you’re following your intuition, which is the language of your soul.
Get in the Flow
Third, every day, ask yourself, “How can I get in the flow today?” Other good questions include: “How can I follow my intuition today?” or “How can I feed my soul today?”
Find the answer to these questions in meditation, channeled writing, or journaling. Once you have the answer, take action. Follow that internal guidance system even if whatever you were guided to do seems crazy or counterintuitive. Just do it, and see what happens.
Prepare for Pit Stops
I realize I might occasionally have to stop my raft’s journey and dock it on the shore. Or I might find my raft stuck on a rock or tree branch in the middle of the river. These situations are when I must stop the flow and do something necessary—even if it’s something I prefer not to do.
That is bound to happen once in a while. After all, most of us have commitments and responsibilities that don’t always feel like flowing downstream.
But they don’t have to be long stops or times when you turn the boat upstream again. Instead, see it as a pit stop—brief but necessary. Then get back in the boat and push off into the current.
If you are afraid, remember to trust. And know that you aren’t alone on the journey downstream. My raft will float close to yours as I practice these three steps and also learn to float downstream.
Are you turning your boat downstream or continuing to travel against the current? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a friend or on social media.
If you want to increase your ability to create desired results—like trusting your intuition, let’s chat. Get on my calendar here. Or join the Inspired Creator Community for group personal and spiritual growth coaching every month.
Photo courtesy of Jesse Bowser.