avoiding what you most love

By November 18, 2015 33 Comments

Fearlessness Blog Graphic

The lights in the room go down. I’m up on stage. I can’t see many faces or eyes in the audience, but I can feel the crowd, completely. I speak from the heart, and lose my sense of time, of space and of me. Magic happens.

I sit down at the computer to write. I wade through the icky first few moments and eventually, the work draws me in. A couple hours later, I pick up my head, notice the time, and feel completely uplifted by the journey that writing has taken me on.

For me, writing and speaking are the vessels that carry me to that special state called flow, the state when we lose track of time, when we fall into a gorgeous forgetting of ourselves and become completely merged with what we’re doing.

For you, it’s probably some other activities. Maybe running or gardening or counseling or crunching numbers. We’ve all been given a few vessels that take us into that special state called flow.

What I want to talk about today – with great compassion – is why we so often end up not doing the things that bring us into that wonderful state of flow, even though flow brings us so much joy, and so much respite from our day-to-day malaises.

There are the usual reasons: Fear of being bad at the activity. Past wounds from that teacher or supposed mentor who made us feel like we just weren’t cut out to do the thing. Lack of time. Thinking we’re too old or too young, or, or, or…

Yes, all that. But there is a deeper reason we resist and then often simply don’t do the things that bring us into flow.

It’s because flow threatens ego.

The ego is a part of us that sees ourselves as a distinct, separate self. It’s invested in you seeing yourself as a self – you know, the kind with a name, a height, a weight, a resumé or LinkedIn profile, a relationship history, and so on. It generally feels quite threatened (because indeed an alone, separate self is not very safe), and therefore spends most of its energy trying to defend itself or avoid dangers one way or another. It never sees you the other way – a stitch in a wondrous fabric, a ray in a sun, a drop in an ocean. It knows the bounded you, not the connected one.

The ego does not like it when we go into flow state because flow state is about the disappearing of the boundaries of self.

The boundary that disappears for you when you are in flow might be one between you and other human beings.

The boundary that disappears might be the boundary between you and nature, as you hike on a trail or swim in the ocean.

The boundary that disappears might be the boundary between you and your material, as you sand the wood, or move the needle through the yarn, or place the bead on the wire.

The boundary that disappears might be the boundary between you and Inspiration, as something else writes the essay for you, or the right thing to say in the meeting simply comes out of your mouth.

Flow undermines the illusion of the separate self.

Ego doesn’t only feel threatened by failure or emotional exposure. It also feels threatened by anything that helps us transcend our egoic self.

A few weeks ago, I heard someone say something intriguing: “I’m afraid that if I start meditating more, I’ll somehow lose my edge.”

It’s an interesting phrase, “losing your edge.” Sometimes, those words are used to connote losing a competitive edge. Sometimes, it has to do more with losing a kind of mental sharpness, or hunger for achievement.

I can’t help but think about it differently. When I heard, “If I meditate more, I might lose my edge,” the edge I thought of was the edge of the self.

As much as we individually long to lose our edges, and as much as our world needs us to do so in order that we collaborate to survive, another part of us fears that loss.

So today’s note is, first and foremost, a loving reminder to you that there are things in your life that bring you into flow. Because we forget. Those activities are gifts to you from life and from the divine. They deserve your time, and they will repay you manifold if you give it to them.

Today’s note is also a reminder that you will likely avoid doing those things that bring you into flow, and the reason is that your ego does not want to lose the battle of how you view yourself – small or large, bounded or connected.

And today’s note is an encouragement to find a way to go into flow anyway, to dip into its well, and let it remind you of the vastness that is here, already in you, and ever waiting to connect to you.



Join the discussion 33 Comments

  • Kelly Harman says:

    Hi Tara, this post really hit a nerve with me. I’ve been avoiding my “flow” for a long time. Recently I was invited to speak to an audience of women, and it was a wonderful, invigorating experience. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy sharing my experiences and bringing laughter to a group of people. I’ve been thinking about how I could re-arrange my life to allow for more work in the areas I love, but had been postponing the conversation with myself. Your article helped me understand why I’m doing this to myself. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and journey.

  • Mary C says:

    Just what I needed this morning. I’ve been writing and my ego keeps telling I’m not making money, go find clients etc.
    I love the flow of writing my workbook. Yet, I don’t feel I accomplished anything.
    Crazy voice. Here is another thought for my ego. This book may lead to more revenue.
    Thanks Tara.

  • Patricia C says:

    Very interesting comments. I always feel I’m skirting around what I’d love to do, thinking about stuff, but never getting round to it. I’m always busy doing day to day jobs, like housework, like my badly paid job, instead of what I’m truly capable of, what’s really inside me. Wish I could just cross over that bridge into that land of “fulfilling my potential” Thanks for your thoughts, Tara. Always inspiring.

  • Barbi Wood says:

    Thank you for this powerful reminder. Your words bring clarity to the resistance that often baffles me. You answered the question I often ponder…Why would I deprive myself of the pleasure of being in this beautiful state, flow, while engaging in something from which I derive complete and utter joy? Oh yes…my ego. Thank you for this widsom Tara, for writing, sharing and honoring what speaks to you. You make a difference and I appreciate you.

  • Lisa Galoci says:

    Tara, your post is a gift from God. I have taken steps to leave an unsatisfying but well paid career to do something I love to do that is not as secure financially. I’m on the edge ready to jump if I get the chance. My ego is freaking out. I have kids, a mortgage, all that. But I can feel the flow when I play music professionally and I can sense it coming in this job I’m auditioning for Saturday. Thank you Tara for affirming this decision to leap off the high board into the flowing pool.

  • albina says:

    What if you don’t know what is your flow? Any tips for insecurity?

    Thank you

  • Tara thank you for the reminder. I love the flow of life, of my passion and I cultivate it every day. Today I was doing a task that does not feel in the flow – and my resistance came up. I am committing myself to returning to flow.

  • Madeleine says:

    Thank you for this today. A reminder to put some effort into flow activities everyday. For me, they are writing and teaching and counselling. I always find my home there…so will go there more often.

  • Eleanor Smith says:

    Thank you … I found these words of wisdom very inspiring. We forget about the character of the ego. I look forward to engaging with it , when it is in top performance. So much Gratitude.

  • Lisa says:

    This is so beautifully written and very inspirational. Thank you!

  • SuzyMac says:

    So much of how I feel about your wonderful post has been said in previous comments. Very inspirational & full of good advice. One little thing (which is most probably a personal trigger) has me a bit stuck. The word “undermines” feels so out of place & negative. I am substituting “dissipates.” Attempts to free myself from a painful past have so often been undermined that I have a hard time associating the word with a positive outcome. Thank you for your insight!!

  • VickiO says:

    I needed to hear this today. Brilliant!! Thank you❤️

  • Celicia says:


    This was a gentle yet firm nudge, and spot on. It came into my Inbox as I sat at home after having decided not to go to my first theater class in 3 years, because things happened this afternoon that upset my schedule, and I would have gotten there late, disheveled, and without having had time to learn my lines properly…

    And theater is definitely a real “flow” experience for me, always has been…

    Interesting thing is, I think I made the right decision about not going. Because it’s not just the fact of being there, it’s being fully present to it, feeling prepared for it. This is too important to me.

    So next week, I will take aaaaalll the time I need to prepare, I’ll plan ahead of time, get there early, and simply and peacefully step into the flow 🙂 …

    thanks for reminding me of how essential this is!!!

  • Marcia says:

    Thank you for helping me understand something that frustrates me daily.

  • Mostly Sunny says:

    Yes! Thank you for your insight. I started writing earlier this month and it has taken me to another realm. Healing. Affirming. Exhausting. All good!

  • Your piece this morning hit home with me as I embark on a year off from my life to find some flow! My last child has just graduated from high school so after 23 years of parenting I wanted to leave some of the roles that I have become accustomed to and perhaps identified with and go and travel and write. Thank you for the encouragement to loosen my edges and find more flow.

  • Martha C. says:

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder and the invitation to join in the greatest good!

  • amanda says:

    Well said, this is what happened to me yesterday so you words are so timely. I believe this to be within us all whole heartedly. Such a relief to know others are thinking this way and we can all connect with this golden thread of integrity and ultimately truth.

  • Tahlee says:

    Mind. Blown!

    Thank you Tara. Feel deeply connected to the truth of this.


  • Joanne says:

    Your definition of flow really resonates with me! And I realize that I need to pay attention to the activities that move me into that space. I never thought of the ego in quite that way, but it makes sense. Would love to here more!

  • Jackie says:

    As many others have stated about this article…your words of wisdom serve as a confirmation that my plans to initiate leaps that will prepare and position me to play big is spot on. Thank you for your keen insight and dedication to be of service to others. You are indeed an inspiration to many.

  • Liz says:

    Thank you Tara – I got back to writing and of late ‘lost’ it again. Seeing how the ego works, described, is so helpful and reassuring.

  • Karishma says:

    Hi Tara,
    Thank you so much for writing this article. I had a breakthrough in my thinking while reading this. I am going to start working from that perspective from now on!

  • Kavita says:

    What a well written and thought provoking article. Never thought that flow is connected to our ego. Thank you!

  • Thank you so much for this post – clearly you’ve touched upon something fundamental given by how many of us have been moved to comment 🙂 For me, this post has given me that wonderful shiver of wonder that happens when a lightbulb of recognition is triggered. Thank you – my ego is about to be reassured that all is well, so that I can get on with being in my flow again!

  • Julia says:

    Gosh, Tara. I hadn’t seen it this way. It’s so easy to find excuses and rationalize myself out of writing. The fear of disappearing is what’s keeping me invisible…

  • Veejay says:

    Can you differentiate between the “flow” and mindfulness. I’m hearing a lot of talk about mindfulness and was wondering if it is the same concept.

  • KellySV says:

    When I was in college and trying to get better at time management I started avoiding flow activities because I’d loose my sense of time completely. I could spend half the night reading a “for fun” book and then be behind on sleep or homework. At some point after graduation I realized this wasn’t a great approach for happiness and started letting these things back into my life.

  • […] Avoiding What You Most Love >>> […]

  • Tara,
    Thank you so much for this post! My ego often needs to be tamed! Especially in the areas that I love most, writing and speaking. I have plenty of evidence to say that I am effective and inspiring when I let myself “go with the flow” and trust my intuition. BUT, it is almost always a struggle. Glad to know that a successful woman that I consider a model knows all about this!
    God bless you!

  • Jodi says:

    Thank you for this message. It came to me at a perfect time as well as for many others who have posted above. For me, what you wrote about how the “flow” activity can be distorted or perverted by someone telling you you weren’t doing it properly or well enough really struck me. One of my “flow” activities was also my life’s work, and when I did not get hired in a full time position after year’s of trying, I completely gave up on it. But, I need to keep doing this work in order to reach an important professional milestone, and I almost walked away completely, believing that not having to experience all the negativity I had associated with my “flow” activity would benefit me. I didn’t realize how much regret I would feel. Then, once I committed to returning to the work, I could not surrender to it, nor could I find any pleasure in it, I would only relive all the pain of the rejections and criticisms. I am working now to regain the positive associations, to relocate pleasure in this activity, and to no longer see returning to it as threatening the fragile wellbeing I built up after being so broken down. Instead, this is an act I do with love so that I can walk away knowing I gave it my all. Thank you for inspiring me in such a crucial moment.

  • Nicole Weiss says:

    I love this. I wish I felt what you felt when I speak but mostly I feel it when I write, counsel and do yoga. I love the way that you described what keeps us from our flow. Beautiful and inspiring…thank you!

  • Sophie says:

    That is just nectar to my eyes – heart – soul and the best reminder as I relate to all of it. Thankyou for spelling it out so clearly. A strong reminder for me to meditate, write, sing and keep in flow.

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