fearless, courage, change, lifestyle change, self-empowerment, self-care, mindfulness

How We’re Wired to Go With the Flow (Really??)

That’s just crazy! Is there anything we work harder at?

But hear me out on this… we’re actually designed to go with the flow–to change, to engage with the uncertainty and mystery of our lives, to soften our resistance.

Yes, we’re all nervous about change. Our trepidation about flowing with our lives, rather than keeping things the same, is based not only on the uncertainty of the outcome (nothing is certain except for change, itself), but also all the big assumptions we make about what will happen to us.

Are we screwed or what? These may feel like impossible obstacles to overcome, but the good news is that we are also wired to go with the flow. We have what it takes to navigate the uncertainty of life successfully.

While resistance to change and uncertainty kept our ancestors alive, we’re stunningly equipped to jump in–we all have skills and attributes that make us ripe for the change and growth that our uncertain lives promise.

This is our true nature and the paradox of how our minds resist what is the smashing and exhilarating part of being alive. It’s what we want and don’t want. It’s what we’ve done before, quite successfully, and yet continues to scare us to our core.

Even if our genetic legacy is to resist change, we all possess the deep potential of neuroplasticity: in fact, our brains can change, we can change, we can learn to change, we can get good at change even in the face of not knowing what’s to come. And each and every one of us has some track record of courageous and successful change through the mysteriousness of life to draw from.

Yes, we can do this. We can accept–and capitalize on–the flow of life.

We have inner wisdom and guidance

Yes, we all have it, but many of us don’t trust it or we don’t stop to listen to it in the midst of our complicated, noisy lives. We must create time, space, and quiet to listen to our inner wisdom. And it takes courage to step up into our truth, our inner knowing. This takes practice.

We are innately optimistic

Yes, humans may be wired for assuming the worst-case scenario when confronted with a challenging or stressful situation, but whether we know it or not, we also believe in a better future. This is what allows us to plan, to move forward, to get up in the morning. We always assume a better day is coming. We are truly wired for creating the more ennobling story.

We are courageous

Whether we believe it or not, every single one of us have stepped up to a challenge. We’ve been courageous and we can do it again. We may have fallen or failed. But we did our best even when we were scared or uncertain. Yes, we are all brave.

We are innately curious

I suspect you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t curious. Curiosity is our birthright. Look at our children, the greatest explorers of all. Curiosity leads to learning and development of our brains and is an absolute necessity for children to grow into successful adults. As adults we don’t lose our sense of curiosity, we just don’t allow enough time for it. We’re too scheduled and uptight. Curiosity needs time and space. And it leads to creative ideas and solutions.

We have all succeeded at change before

There are innumerable ways we have all successfully managed the uncertainty of a challenge, created something new, or solved a problem. These are all successes to draw from. There will always be new territory to navigate, but we all have many experiences and skills to empower and assist us.

Help us add to this list! What are your change super powers?


Karyn Shanks, MD. The Upside of Our Uncertain Lives. 2017.

Debbie Hampton. Neuroplasticity: The 10 Fundamentals of Rewiring Your Brain. 2015.


Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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