For most of my life I was a dedicated people-pleaser. When I look back I clearly see that many of my people-pleasing behaviors derived from a fear of confrontation, conflict, and criticism. I mistakenly thought that “going with the flow” made me a better, more likeable person. I thought I was just easy going, when really, I was scared of voicing my opinion in fear that someone might disagree with me. Many times, I was blinded to my own voice and opinions. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, I encourage you to take a different approach then always “going with the flow” to avoid your anxiety. It some cases it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be easy going, however, if you find yourself always giving in and doing what others want without checking in with yourself first, it could become an issue in your life.
Below are three reasons why you don’t always need to go with the flow:
1. You don’t need to bury your feelings to be accepted by others: Start seeing your inclination to “go with the flow” as an indication that you might be trying to avoid conflict or upsetting others. Try not to be scared to disagree with others, and remember that it is actually good for your relationships to show up as you are.
2. Conflict is inevitable in any relationship: Don’t judge yourself or think your relationship is “bad” if a conflict occurs just because you bring up your thoughts. A certain amount of conflict is typical in any relationship. It isn’t possible to keep all of your relationships easy going. Instead of trying to avoid using your voice, you can learn how to face situations constructively, without allowing things to escalate into destructive arguments.
3. You are probably overestimating the anger of others: Many people “go with the flow” when they overestimate how angry others will get when they express themselves and their preferences. Some people may very well get upset; but usually, your imagination is exaggerating how angry they’ll become. Your only responsibility is to bring up, in a rational, clear manner, how you feel about a situation, what you prefer and your thoughts. How the other person responds is out of your control.
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