Overcoming Obstacles and Finding Flow

December 3, 2022

By Allison Iantosca, ACC

I want to write about flow. But then I get stuck.

Because I don’t know how to begin.

The desire is there, along with the obsessive opinions that nag at the outer edges of my brain, provoking me to let it all out!  Be all you can be!  Or some other such slogan that I have eschewed for its cliché insincerity.

But I defer to the habit of my stuckness, happily dancing with the grander notions that, at some point, the world will come to understand my perseverance and finally offer me the exact threshold I am meant to cross.  That it is indeed the lack of opportunity and understanding (but certainly not personal hang ups) that hold me back.  That somehow the opinions I so diligently cherish will finally soften in my favor and I will arrive at a peace and flow that no longer require the paralyzing necessity of setting aside effort to disregard dazzling nerve endings, insatiable yearnings, or an exhausting ego.

But the trouble is, stuckness is a habit. And even though my logic seeks a shift in the pattern, it has been so long held in my body that to set it free feels incredibly unsafe in relation to the comfort (at least) of continuing to play out what I’ve always known. That step would be to accept the death of a part of me that has offered such sustenance throughout the most dogged days of this long life. And I guess I am simply not ready to say goodbye.

So what are the options?

This is where I often first meet a coaching client. When the time has come for them to ask for some perspective and company inside the lonely cycle of an expired fixed reality.  Ready to create new relationships with some of the older parts of self.  Ready to, indeed, find flow; nowhere near formulaic but rather a process of obviating behavioral habits that feel as natural as breathing yet limit the ability to take in all the oxygen needed to grow and develop.

The desire to achieve this sought-after internal sanctuary is quite human. And so we begin. In a place of wonder and exploration that begins to pry open long-held requirements that no longer serve one’s personal purpose. And what is that purpose anyway?  Where did it come from? How did you define it? How do you define it now?  Would you like it to…change? What might that look like?

This kind of exploration can be applied to many of the commitments to which we cling, created at a time in our lives when we might have needed a benchmark to be sure we weren’t messing up:  duty, loyalty, perfectionism, responsibility, work ethic…all things that can both support and block our sense of internal sanctuary.  All things that may no longer serve the same purpose they once did. Things that may now, in fact, be working against us.

In his book Finding Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says “The chief obstacle to a good life is oneself.”  In coaching, we opt to fall madly in love with that obstacle.  We give it light.  We hold it out and look at it and discuss the integrity of its truth.  Sometimes a client even opts to rearrange it a little or toss it out altogether.  But not until they can see it.  Not until they begin to question it and bring it into their awareness can they change it.  Only then can they lessen its habitual hold.  Only then can they sense flow.

This is how to begin.

Allison Iantosca is a Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) trained coach certified by ICF with extensive leadership and management experience. She is an Executive Coach and is the Owner and President of Boston based FH Perry Builder.

*Photo Credit: ryunosuke-kikuno Unsplash

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