Flow: Instead of Losing Yourself, You are Being Yourself

January 28, 2016 in Blog


This has been a major conundrum for me: Why is the flow state of consciousness so often described as “losing yourself” to an activity, when the default mode brain network is highly active while people are in the flow state? The default mode network plays an important role in self-related cognition and personal goal processing. The flow state is characterized not just by activation of the default mode network, however, but also by the relative *deactivation* of areas of the lateral prefrontal cortex that play a role in working memory and metacognition (for example, see here). So I’m thinking that the “losing yourself” metaphor for flow that is so prominent is incorrect. It’s actually quite the opposite. When in flow, what is actually happening is that you are totally BEING YOURSELF. Without self-criticism. Instead of losing yourself, you are being yourself. The key distinction here is that losing your *sense* of self is not the same thing as losing your self. At least, that’s my latest thinking about this.

One Response to “Flow: Instead of Losing Yourself, You are Being Yourself”

  1. This state of “Flow” that you discuss reminds of my research into the liminal space that I speak of in my book “Internal Landscapes”. Our society is so focused on logical states of mind that result in products versus a journey that transcends definitions. Unconscious impulses and kinesthetic movement in my work explore this liminal space.