If You Can’t Win and You Can’t Flee, FLOW
There’s a concept around acceptance that I have adopted in my life. It serves me well in nearly every area of my life from personal relationships to employment to Jiu Jitsu training and competitions. Maybe it will serve you.
As we all know, hindsight is 20/20. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache and misery over the years if I had learned this tool before. However, I learned to incorporate this concept in my life in my program of recovery, my Jiu Jitsu training and competition and all my personal interactions/relationships (romantic, employment, fellow sufferers, etc.).
Whenever I was first incarcerated, I was very unaccepting of the situation. I knew I couldn’t “win” because I was arrested for a crime that I had indeed committed. I couldn’t “flee” because there was barbed wire and walls specifically designed to keep me captive. “Flowing” didn’t occur to me.
It was my pattern to fight and rebel with everyone and everything in that situation. I fought with the police, the correctional officers, and other inmates/convicts. Getting my butt kicked every time didn’t teach me to flow. Getting my butt kicked taught me to fight harder — never surrender! I wasted a lot of energy fighting a fight I couldn’t win. And I continued to repeat the battle cry. That’s what I thought my survival was dependent on. It was exhausting and got me nowhere.
When I started practicing Jiu Jitsu, I applied that same “beat them down” mentality. When faced with a more skilled competitor, I would get hurt, I would get tired and I would inevitably lose the match. I started to realize that by relaxing, observing, and using the 5-8 minute match to hone my technique and learn from those more experienced, losing the match could ultimately be a win for me — as a competitor and as a person.
When I started my journey of 12-step recovery, I couldn’t win because I could not successfully prove that I was NOT an alcoholic/addict. I couldn’t flee because leaving the program meant returning to my old way of living because that’s all I knew how to do. I’d already witnessed the collateral damage of that lifestyle and prison was no longer my destination. An unwillingness to accept a life-long sentence of sobriety was overwhelming. My constant “defense” of my non-alcoholic status drained all my energy and made me tired. I wanted more than exhaustion and frustration. I wanted to turn my life around.
Once I learned to say, “okay” I am an alcoholic/addict, “okay” I should do what my sponsor says, “okay” these new suggestions I’m getting will work, I stopped fighting. Once I started to work WITH my environment I started to “flow.” Once I started to flow (accept the situation and circumstance “as is”), I began to be led towards solutions rather than conflicts, lessons rather than hard knocks and peace of mind rather than restlessness,
Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? Do I want to get hurt, or do I want to survive? Do I want to argue, or do I want to get along? It’s more rewarding to be happy than to be “right.” Going with the flow doesn’t indicate weakness. Avoiding conflict doesn’t indicate cowardice. Going with the flow is about accepting the things we cannot change. It’s about survival of the fittest — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Do I want to fight, or do I want to flow?