The Shadow Side Of “Going With The Flow”

woman's shadowI vaguely remember the first time it was suggested that I “go with the flow”.  It irritated me at the time.  Maybe it’s because I’m earthy? But I did listen and as years went by, I met with this message many times in a myriad of ways.  Going with the flow is the key to happiness?

Unknowingly, I was influenced by this. Flow around obstacles, right?  It makes sense. The idea suits Saturn mashed with Neptune which is a feature in my chart. You hear something over and over the next thing you know, you’re living it.

I now think “going with the flow” can be a stupid thing to do.  This concept trains you to remain passive and acquiesce to…whatever.

That’s bad enough but the real cost adds up when you acknowledge the importance of, “the school of hard knocks”.  If you never stand against something or encounter a hard edge or apply counter-pressure or push back in any way, how will you develop your muscles and your spine?  How about your character? Your soul?

I no longer think we’re meant to “go with the flow”.  A tadpole, maybe, but not a human being.

If is has to be one of the other, I think a person would be better off to take the hard road rather than flow anywhere.

Search the phrase “go with the flow” and look at the pictures that come up.  They look so stupid to me, now. Like, yeah. Thanks but no thanks!

Is it truly empowering to “go with the flow”? What do you think?

47 thoughts on “The Shadow Side Of “Going With The Flow””

  1. I’ve got quite a fixed chart, and I don’t find ‘going with the flow’ empowering, I find it difficult and sometimes boring. When I make plans, I want to see them through.
    I’m finding the current Saturn-Uranus square very hard going because I’ve got things I want and need to do, but circumstances are, I have to wait and see what happens. Infuriating!!

    1. That’s the Point!! You Don’t Have to Wait to See!! What happens with this attitude is that No One is Forced into Action, with this Attitude. Action only comes from Losing Flow, which (should) Show You What is Most Important, that you Cannot Just go with the Flow.
      If your Flowing, you don’t give enough sh*ts, Ya Know!? Hope this makes sense ☺️😉👊✨🤍

  2. I agree, that it’s definitely not good for a general life motto. There is a lot of power in knowing when to go with the flow, when to hold your ground, and when to push forward, and being able to take the appropriate action for a specific situation. The abilities to adapt and be flexible can be so useful, but not always the right move.

    My super mutable Mars can see many benefits to going with the flow, though. For instance, riding the collective energy can be perfectly fine when there is a need to preserve your own energy. Pick your battles. My Mars supports my 10th house Venus in Aries, so of course we can’t always go with the flow. Aspects to Uranus indicate that I sometimes must go completely against the grain!

    My husband is really good at anticipating the flow and making it work for him (he’s literally a river guide), but he’s not a “go with the flow” kind of guy at all. He runs on friction. I think I do need some form of flow. He has mars-venus conjunct. I have mars-venus sextile.

  3. I don’t agree with “go with the flow” in general, but I have noticed lately that I do need to let some things go because I don’t (and won’t) have control over them. So in that sense, I think the advice can be helpful … although there are better ways to say it.

  4. I think we take the meaning of “Go with the flow” too literally.
    In my books it doesn’t mean , staying in an unhappy place or situation,or tolerance,or accepting something that doesn’t resonate or fulfill.
    In my books Go with the flow is to remove the picture you have in your head,and be open to what the Universe presents to you.
    This is empowering not hindering.
    Nine out of ten times, what and where the Universe took me and gave me was much better than what I wanted.
    I have learned to let go of any outcomes in my life now.
    That is freeing and empowering to me.
    I m not wound up ,and since I have nil expectations,I mostly pleasantly surprised,it wasn’t what I was expecting,but something better outside the box.
    (Of my limited mind)
    I guess Uranus on leo Ascendant makes me radical and okay with surprises and out there experiences.
    I have to say they have been the highlight of my life.

    1. I agree, like most sayings, there is a certain context in which it is true and others where it is not. (Libra speaking:)
      Going with the flow is great if you’re up against conflict, discomfort, or friction and you decide it’s not worth it to defend your ego.
      But in other situations, You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything

    2. Bravo! Thank you for making such a complex philosophy so simple. I’m currently in the flow with a clearer understanding of it. In the past I would imagine every outcome I could and play that in my head to be “prepared” for whatever happened. It made me feel more secure. I haven’t been able to completely stop that quite yet but am working on it.

  5. I think the key is finding the flow to tap into and then navigating through the obstacles that arise. I must admit that I like a smooth sail. It has been hard won. There are a couple of choppy waves that I am facing. I will need to man my flow to get through those. Things that needs be done that I would rather not have to deal with.

  6. Ever since you made me aware of Neptune in my first house, I’m super aware of a good flow…thru the Ralph’s checkout line where I practice my standup jokes, the longer the line the better – parking my car late at night in the Marriott Courtyard parking lot & flowing into the hotel to get the manager to flow me across the street to my condo complex, past all the obstacles sleeping on the sidewalk…lovin the flow…

  7. I guess if you’re trying to save your energy and you’re going with the flow of the current so as to figure out where you break out and kick like hell it might serve a purpose I’m not so sure I don’t think I’m a leader I don’t think I’m a follower either I think I’m just quirky part of nature. Have always worshiped spontaneity, reflexes ,perhaps are unique to each of us, depending mostly with security
    And needs.

  8. I have always hated this kind of thing. The first time I went off on something like this was in 1987! And here’s the shocker. It’s taken me until NOW, to understand why. WHY? What am I reacting to? Well now I know.

    This is a rant from 2007.

    I also hate, “it’s all good”, from whatever era that is.

    Here’s a tip: if you find yourself saying something everyone else is saying, chances are you’ve fallen for the brainwashing. And here’s another tip for the thinking OR the very sensitive. Or note, rather.

    Many years ago, someone came on this site and told me that the things I thought were put into my head. Whaaat? Well, I didn’t react that way.

    I didn’t react that way because I could feel the guy. Like I knew he was right even if I didn’t how he was right or what he was talking about. I can just tell this kind of thing.

    I believe I reacted in a neutral manner though I don’t particularly recall. It just went into a category of things I didn’t understand, but would like to. He wasn’t exactly offering to explain it and would I have listened?

    But I do remember things like this and now, I do understand, thank God.

    These get repeated until the penetrate and it really gets interesting when you begin to work on figuring our why.

    I’ll give you an example.

    My husband and I were watching this stupid program. It was a stupid series, stupider each season but we were watching it anyway, which is another puzzle.

    Anyway, around season 4, they started saying this phrase, “shit the bed”.

    That is a gross phrase, if you have Libra. So I’m listening to it and think it’s disgusting but then guess what happens?

    All the characters start using the phrase. All of the sudden, people are “shitting the bed” four or five or even six time per episode. How am I not supposed to notice this? How can the writer or the actors or whoever, not notice they are using this phrase, over and over and over and over… like for three or four episodes. It’s confusing….

    But I have figured this out as well… finally. So I’m just telling you that this post is the tip of a VERY BIG iceberg. And if you can suspend your judgement for a bit, you might be one of the people who catches on.

    Catching on is the goal. For me, anyway.

  9. I think one can reverse the meaning of everything on this Earth of what sticks to people versus what others stick to. Some examples, first, like the one mentioned go with the flow= never oppose to anything. Then Oppose everything= defiant, contentious, polite= people pleaser, blunt= a turnip bitch. The only difference is ‘ what side of this invisible line or fence are you on at this moment and point in time? Plurality and arbitrarily are also just words. I’ll conveniently do one thing. And then I’ll change my mind. I believe many paths work for people in this life. One can do one approach through their entire life- like go with the flow, others four or five. But no one knows what’s at the end of it all, so I am wondering if the modus operandi is the most important? I couldn’t tell. We don’t come with instructions. My half a cent.

  10. This is a good one Elsa. I’ve had my ups and downs with the phrase: ‘go with the flow.’ I’m very fixed generally, and when I recall a time when I did ‘go with the flow’ literally I was in a raft in a rough water river. My son said at one point, “That’s crazy!” And both his parents were in that raft. Dah.
    We (his parents) both made it down the river but we toppled and geez there was so much to learn from that.
    I’m a fighter by nature, and come to think of it, I’ve nurtured that nature and am alive because of it. “Flowing” is a good thing for me when I’m tangled up and fighting only tightens the knots. One thing we learned on that river raft topple? Stick your legs out IN FRONT OF YOU and don’t fight the current. Back float.
    Of all the swimming techniques I’ve learned over time it is literally the backstroke that has been most fun and efficient. A combo of float and stroke. It does develop muscle and there’s something empowering about the reassurance of the ocean holding me up. (saltwater woman i am).

  11. Yeah, no one knows the end of it all. And really is there an end, on and on it goes. Causes and effects. Win the battle and lose the war. I can stand without going all hostile about it. And definitely do not have to buy on to provocation.

  12. It depends on the situation but usually that phrase irritates me too. I like to say, “You know who goes with the flow? Dead fish!”

    1. lol… good one Renee! On the flipside, is it easier to swim upstream or downstream? The flow is downstream. Life is difficult enough already, wouldn’t you like to allow the flow to help carry you rather than drown from the exhaustion of constantly swimming upstream?

      1. Hi Songmistress, I guess it depends on the situation. If it seems like it’s better to go with the flow and it’ll make me stronger and not weaker then, of course, it’s okay. But lately it just seems like everything in me is telling me to go against the flow. The flow wants me to be lazy, decadent, & let someone else decide what’s best for my own health. It’s easier that way for sure. Instead of staying in the city where life was convenient, we left. Now we’re learning how grow food from seed and we got chickens. It hasn’t been easy. We are learning a lot. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’ll be a disaster. Maybe we are wasting our time. But we are learning. We are growing. Honing some skills. Kind of like how resistance training builds muscle. Now seems like the time (at least for us) to go against the flow.

        1. ((hugs)) Renee! The flow actually works best when you know what you want, rather than just what you don’t want. Maybe some quiet time to ruminate on that would be helpful? I love the idea of living off the land, and off the grid a bit, but I love the modern conveniences and being around a lot of people more.

  13. I’m primarily cardinal and fixed signs with lots of fire signs. My Mars is the only planet in a mutable sign and it is out of bounds and conjunct my Ascendant. I have a great deal of personal difficulty “going with the flow” unless of course it is my desire to ride a white water river on a raft. Going with the flow is great for all the mutable people out there.

  14. My Dad (the Aqua sun w/ Scorp rising) would say when I was frustrated with… “Don’t buck the system. You have to learn how to play the game.” In the next breath, “but if you do, don’t get caught!”
    To my natal Sun square Uranus from Cap to Libra

  15. With Uranus on my ASC, I rarely go with the flow..But the question I have is–how do you know which flow to follow? Media propaganda may be strong, precisely because many people aren’t doing what the Elites want, including people you respect more than an airhead journalist…

  16. i go into the flow if i want to travel under the radar… but that’s a very different thing…
    i blame pisces and neptune.

  17. It occurs to me that someone with a lot of Virgo would hate this idea of “going with the flow.” It sounds so much like the opposite sign, Pisces. I think it’s a good thing when it means to have faith that you will be taken where you are supposed to go and experience what you are meant to experience. Otherwise, no, I don’t think it’s a good idea. “Going with the flow” is a surefire way to end up in the gutter…

    1. Welcome, Clair. I thought about Virgo as well but also about Aries, who wants to lead and fight. And Libra who can’t decide. And Leo who is designed to stand out. ETC.

      I don’t know. I wrote this to try to introduce some other insights, I’m flooded with at this time.

  18. Actually, Shonaa is spot on about “going with the flow”. I suggest everyone read the comment on repeat:-)

    “Go with the flow” may be a popular meme but it is based in ancient eastern philosophy about “being like water”. Being less rigid, flowing rather than linear, feeling comfortable with uncertainty or in the gray, not invested in an outcome….

    Elsa, you ARE in the flow. When you post your interpretations of the astrological omens, you allow interpretation by others because we are all different, with different planets and houses etc. You give us guidance to flow with the astrological happenings as we navigate this life as we know it. There isn’t anything passive about that.

    I too always thought go with the flow, be like water, surrender, let go let god…. were passive things that precluded action. My aha moment was that it isn’t passive at all. To surrender to the flow, to let go, actually means letting go of the control, letting go of an expectation, letting yourself be you without inhibition, releasing fear….

    In other words, what would you do and how would you be if you believed there was a safety net, no box, no walls, no expectation…?

    Learning to be fluid is also considered a part of the strategy for winning in life. It isn’t “stagnant” but every moving, ever changing…

    I hope that’s helpful and wish I had time to be more detailed!

    1. I understand. I’m kind of talking about something larger but it’s hard to get a start, which is necessary in order to gain traction!

      I guess my issue is this – who is controlling the stream, you’re flowing with? If it’s a bad entity – uh oh.

      1. I think, or feel, I get what you’re talking about Elsa. Maybe this is something to build traction … like filling in the edge of a pond, a pond that used to be uncovered. The flow is going on while we live on the edges of it, and in winter when it rains the flow fills in from below and from above. Who is controlling the stream? Mostly, god with the rains and the streams. Us humans get to choose how much we go with the flow: wear rubber boots or no, build a kitchen like a duck blind (on a pond) and know there’s a limit to how ‘comfy’ we can get. Push back a bit. Notice the effect.
        I’m an old fixed woman but I have a knack for knowing when to reach for other sorts of teachers who have weathered real life, and tell me complex stories that aren’t ‘it’s all good.’ Cuz really, it ain’t.
        You’re right in saying ‘it’s about something larger’ and you are just starting to shovel in the gravel. Keep at it, I like how long it takes and I’m the gal who wears rubber boots. Bring it:)

      2. Aha, that’s the issue, control! I don’t think there is any ultimate control of anything. One may think somebody or something is controlling it all, but I don’t think so. It is understandable that this how people may look at it because of belief in a hierarchical system. This reeks of Aquarius. Not individual causiness, but that what is is a product of all of us and what we do. The choices we make. I think we are making it up as we go.

        1. And I think we think we’re making it up and we couldn’t be more wrong. That was the point of this post.

          I am nearly positive I am right about this but I’d have never caught on had someone not make a remark that opened a door. I am trying to do this for others now.

          Knowledge will find you if you’re open to it.

          1. @Elsa, again its open to interpretation.
            I m Ur-Anus ruled, I NEVER conform, I m always the non conformist, radical,”crazy,weird” person in the group.
            With Uranus On my Ascendant.
            So I usually will STAND up and fight, also hold my Ground, Sun in Taurus.
            However fighting the system,bullies, bitches, I have realized.
            Is Counterproductive.
            We can continue doing what we want, without the aggravation,fight or rebellion.
            I have rebelled all my life.
            I like going with the flow,and yes @Songmistress, I think you understood the point.
            All Zen Masters , say water is stronger than Rock.
            There are 2 options,walk away from conflict.
            Or Ignore and dont respond.
            Let them think you are the weak guy, who cares.
            I m a legend in my own mind!

          2. Knowledge does come, but the acceptance of that knowledge comes through the individuals filter. It seems to me, and this is just my take, that people’s shadows are being poked which causes an emotional reaction from the person’s trauma history. Now the shadow (the angry reaction) does indeed hold the power. But the lashing out reaction is just the repeated cry of ‘I was wronged’ and whoever I project to be the victimizer by not giving me what I want now must suffer. When a person reconciles that issue they can truly claim their power. I think this is what is messing stuff up. I guess this comes up for me with the Venus pluto conj in Capricorn. The venus in Scorpio people I know are avid shadow pokers. They relish it so I get bored with that and disengage. I don’t think normally others intentionally do it. The other is just doing what they do which may not be what I want. So I may not go with the flow but I have to suck it up and accept that is the way the other is. I guess I just don’t want to get caught up in the shadow poker’s games.

          3. Hmmmm Elsa, “And I think we think we’re making it up and we couldn’t be more wrong.”

            Would love for you to share the open door remark you experienced. I visualized to materialize long before it became a “Thing” and yet I felt what was happening was more clairvoyance or even related to some concepts within quantum physics. Naturally I believe it all to be underpinned by the astrology of it all….

  19. Avatar
    Shimmering Light

    I really wouldn’t want to live my life by any ONE saying. For me it all depends on the context as to what attitude or state of mind is beneficial at any given time.

    I’m with you Elsa on being proactive and doing something with our lives. I have also learned to listen to the small voice which is greater than the sum of me and to ‘flow’ with that when it feels right, especially when my head is not clear about the issue at all or says ‘no’. I have learned to trust that my head or my will doesn’t always know what’s good for me or can’t see that far ahead. The two sides work best together: be purposeful and also flow. Incidentally Joseph Campbell talked about this extensively but he wasn’t referring to some New Age dogma but a genuine spiritual experience.

  20. A lot of the comments resonated for me. I do think that picking your battles is key. There are times when it is good to not resist. I believe each situation needs to be evaluated before one responds to it.
    That said, I am unconventional but there are times when I crave the typical average and I think that shows us what we have possibly idealized in our imagination.
    Live and learn has become my motto 🙂

  21. Flow, is Allowing. If We keep “allowing”, We aren’t being conscious Be’ings. Conscience Action is the Opposite of Flowing. Flowing is Literally an Excuse for Not wanting to make a major change that you know intuitively you should. (Unless your being guided by the flow, in order to come into ones BE’ing, through flowing without external restrictions). Perhaps the question is, where Are you flowing? In, Out, in between? Is this keeping another person in limbo? If so, your flowing is their interruption, and Uncentering another to be yourself in limbo(-land) 12H Denial of what one Truly wants for Fear of Others Response (Corresponding with the 10H Public Dynamic, as one struggles between this and friendships.) Uranus’ electricity Pronounces what Pluto’s Underworld already ‘picked-up’. It’s the combination that the revolution will be compounded via choosing with ones Heart and Soul, Through which the Body will Show You…. If you Wait you will Know It, and when you don’t, your just flowing. The Mistake it Flowing When You Be Knowing!! That’s 12H Love : with or without Imprisonment, it’s your Choice … Truth Wins until it no longer has to fight 🤍✨

    Sorry I went on a tangent (I blame Neptune;) lol)

  22. Is it truly empowering to “go with the flow”?

    YES. It’s far more empowering than pushing too hard, trying to fix issues guns ablazing that are unsolvable or have to unfold naturally. Trying to lead and control, always wanting things your way, and being all can-do takes its toll.

    It takes MORE strength to relinquish control and allow events to unfold how they should do, and in their own time frame.

    I see it as far from passive, and not to be confused with giving up. It’s about NOT interfering, not meddling, not holding on to a fixed outcome.

    Go with the flow … Even if ‘the flow’ is a hurricane force tidal wave!

  23. Avatar
    Linda Staunton

    Have been told to “go with the flow” many times. I am happy to read this post as I have been confused as to the way to approach life.

  24. Yeah put your feet down feel the current feel your muscles tighten,feel what it feels like to resist,change your stance change your mind

  25. I can be reactive, so ‘go with the flow’ has been useful…but l also talk myself out of taking action, a little too much, then l blame ‘go with the flow’for it all.

    Recently, l came to understand how l was being manipulated and set up to be systematically drained in more ways than one.

    I went ‘with the flow’– lead by instinct and cut ties with the person, and feel so relieved.

    I considered her needs to be more important than mine. And that is my fault.

  26. Agree. I’ve said this same thing. I’ve come to realize though that there’s lots of different currents. Some are societal, engineered or external. Some are internal, spiritual, Natural and personal. The trick is discerning which is which. I think probably having a spiritual awareness helps in this.

  27. I started to hear “oh, go with the flow!” in the 1990s, either meant as “don’t be so uptight!” or “let it all go…”. My answer to the latter is “as long as it’s your own flow”. By this I mean taking the time to listen to your own inner voice, as others earlier in this thread have suggested. Having Mars conjunct Sun in Pisces, square Moon in Gemini, learning to talk less and listen more (to others and my self) has been a major lesson. It’s sometimes hard to resist being swept away by emotions stirred up by a charismatic leader, or being part of a group. The ability to rely on your own inner knowing or self can provide a rock-like stability within; once the rush of words has subsided you are less at risk of being separated from your core and your own desires. On a different note, with Sun and Mars being in my 5th house, opposing Uranus in my 12th house, I’ve found that there are times creativity flows well and others when it hits obstacles. When the latter occurs, I’ve found it’s best to accept the blockage and get on with something else (which I also see as going with the flow). Trying to batter a project into shape is usually a waste of time and taking time away from it gives my unconscious a chance to work on it, usually producing a far better piece of work than my conscious(?) mind could come up with. Not great with a deadline looming, which is why I’ve learnt to have more than one project on the go at any time. There are so many ways to interpret the phrase “go with the flow” and it’s been interesting reading all the different thoughts above.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll to Top