Managing the Ebb and Flow of Life

I don’t feel like doing anything.

For a year and a half I was completely immersed in my work – building a coaching practice. I was applying myself in all sorts of ways – learning new things, testing my boundaries, putting myself out there, writing content, building a web site and more. All of this occurred after I left my corporate job to be of greater service to others.

I was in the FLOW, totally engaged in all things and I was happy.

And then things started to shift.

It happened slowly. I started to feel distracted and I did not want to work. I felt lazy and wanted to do nothing more than binge watch TV programs and flake out on the couch.

I have some great ideas that I wanted to bring to fruition, but I had absolutely zero interest in doing anything about them. I wondered what was happening to me. How could I go from being in action mode to standing on the sidelines looking at what I had been doing and what I thought I wanted to continue doing and not feel enthusiastic about any of it?

I felt a little worried about this change. It was significant enough that I wondered if I was a little bit depressed. I’m wasn’t, but I was feeling different about what I was doing and I was not sure how to shake myself out of it and get back into action.

The thing was, I was not sure if I even wanted to shake myself out of it.  It kind of felt good to just do nothing about it.

Then I did something that felt really foreign to me.

I let myself just be with it all. I did not try to take action or analyze what was going on with me or seek the advice or counsel of others. I decided to let it be what is was going to be.

Here is the thing. I am a person who loves to help others sort out what is holding them back from pursuing what they want for themselves. I have coached, been coached and regularly immerse myself in books, podcasts and courses – all with the intention of embracing a growth mindset for myself and using the wisdom gained to help others. So, letting myself just be with this was not natural. I like to get past a problem, shake myself out of a funk; but this time I felt like my inner self wanted me to do something completely different and I paid attention to that feeling.

I did not fight it. I did not try to figure out how to get myself out of it. I tried to observe how I was feeling and just let it be. I did wonder why I was not feeling as committed to my work and tried not to stress about it. I trusted my intuition and for whatever reason, it was telling me to let it be.

I don’t think I ever noticed when my life was leaning into ebb mode in the past. I was used to constantly striving – working hard at my job, feeling exhausted, but pushing through when what I really needed to do was to slow down and take some things off my overflowing plate of “to do’s.”

This ebb has awakened something in me that I needed. I can understand the difference between when I am truly in the flow, feeling accomplished and energized and when there is a natural ebb where I am called to look after myself in a different way.

I believe that we all need time to reconnect to our inner selves so that we can recognize what we really need, but it can be very hard to carve out that time when we are hammered daily with long lists and obligations. We look for an easy way to resolve our challenges.

We look for answers to our questions outside of ourselves. We think that by doing more, following someone else’s formula or advice we are enabling our lives to flow more easily and I would argue that it is exactly the direct opposite. We need to minimize the information coming in and take the time to listen to our intuition and follow the inner whispering of our hearts.

I never really felt the ebb before because I would push myself through it. I had no time for it and did not realize just how important it was for me. I had to fix how I was feeling. I did not allow myself to “go with the flow” in the ebb times in my life.

Until now.

I allowed myself to rest.
I stopped listening to podcasts.
I have unfollowed people if their feeds make me feel “less than” in any way.
I have stopped reading “self-help” books.
I have allowed myself the grace of just being with how I am feeling.
I am cooking nutritious meals.
I am moving my body.
I am connecting with the people I love.
Less striving, more thriving.

Life is full of ebbs and flows – your life is no different. The key is to revel in the flow when we have it and to relax into the ebb and ask ourselves what we need in those moments.

We need to be kind to ourselves when we reach a point in our life where we are in a natural ebb. It enables us to take a time out to recharge our over-taxed lives.

We need the contrast between the ebbs and flows of our life so that we can learn when we need to take more care of ourselves. We cannot always be in a state of flow, nor can we always be in a state of ebb. We need them both.

In my experience, the ebb is a signal for self-care and to reset. It enables me to let ideas simmer without taking action, and figuring out what they are really made of. It allows me to consider what things are good for me and what things are draining me so I can make changes that are for my greater good.

It also opens the door to the things that have been niggling at the back of my mind – the whispers I have been ignoring because they did not “fit in” with the life I was seeing for myself – to come out into the open for me to consider.

Engaging with the ebb is not easy because it challenges me to examine what is working and what is not. It is a necessary state enabling me to figure out what I really want for myself.

I have been kind to myself during this time – allowing my “ebb” to “flow” so to speak. I let go of needing to control what this time was about and relaxed into it to see where it takes me. The time of ebb is a letting go of how my life has been and getting me ready for some larger changes that are coming in my near future.

I am embracing the ebb because I am doing things that are opening me up in new ways. I have stopped doing things that are draining my energy and sense of self. I am taking a break and seeing where it takes me.

As you navigate the ebbs and flows of your own life, remember to be kind to yourself and to recognize that the ebbs happen for a reason. The ebbs are a bit of a wake-up call that something may need to change in your life in order for it to properly flow again for you in the way that is in your best interests and in ways you may never have imagined for yourself. The ebb is trying to draw your attention to something in your life that you need to examine more deeply.

The best part about the ebb is that it is a period of transition between what was and what is to come. You get to decide what feels right and good to you and you have a choice in how you move forward with your life as a result. That is not to say that the decisions will always be easy. Some might be; but others may be difficult, but necessary.

For me, I am still figuring out some things and I am not entirely sure where this ebb is taking me. I have made a few decisions that will change how life will flow for me in the future and that feels good. I am looking forward to being back in the flow and I will be grateful for the gifts the ebb is bringing to me.

Embrace the ebb because it will lead you to more flow.

Sarah Finney is a certified life coach, writer and thought-shifter who helps women create fulfilling, purposeful lives by getting crystal clear on what is possible for them. She empowers women to reclaim their voices and make empowered choices that are aligned to their core set of values. After spending 25+ years as a marketing expert in a corporate capacity, Sarah chose to listen to the whisperings of her own soul and reconnected with who she is now.  She re-imagined her life and has dedicated herself to helping women define what is possible and dispel beliefs that have held them back, enabling them to lead lives that are full, gratifying and true to who they really are. Find out more about Sara on her website or Twitter.

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