Can You Tolerate Joy?By Rythea Lee Kaufman
December 31, 2006
Does joy scare you? Do you sometimes do things to sabotage your joy? Do you feel more comfortable when things are not going smoothly? Find out why and what to do about it in this article.
What is the point of healing? Therapy? Self-exploration? Memory retrieval? Embracing painful old emotions? Oh, I know, I know....joy!
Recently a client said to me "I don't want to feel too happy because then I won't get to see you anymore." I heard her statement as a reflection of her beliefs about happiness. This particular client had connected to her parents as a child through feelings of fear, anger, resistance, and loneliness. Her mother and father, both survivors of the Holocaust, were so unhappy that my clients experience of "connecting" with them or feeling any sort of closeness with them was through shared feelings of pain and sorrow. Now, after many months of therapy and new personal choices of self-care, she was glimpsing a new reality. She was beginning to feel a sense of natural contentment.
Her inner child, however, found this very frightening. I suggested she look at her little child self and tell her the truth about joy. "We are allowed to have joy now" she said to the doll in her arms. "It is safe to love life, I won't leave you, I will be with you even when you are happy." Her child self felt unsure, the idea that closeness could be found in feelings of joy was so unfamiliar.
Building up a tolerance for positive feelings is a practice. Gay and Kathlyn Hendrix in their book "Conscious Loving" suggest taking intentional breaks from positivity. They believe people often create accidents, revert to addictions, start fights with loved ones, as a way to bring the positive energy down. People who have grown up around crisis and pain (which includes many of us) have grown used to the experience of struggle and consider it evidence that we exist! For those of us on a conscious healing journey, it is important to explore our false beliefs about sustained joy. Do we tell ourselves we're lazy, boring, selfish, fake, dissociated, in denial, etc, when we start to feel good? Are we addicted to struggle, self-defeating thoughts and behaviors, or uncomfortable connections with others?
Once we understand the truth about joy, we can begin to really live in it.Joy is our birth rite! Joy makes us want to love others. Joy makes life worth living. Joy helps us be creative, powerful, and open-hearted. Joy is what we each deserve. Joy changes the world. Joy attracts joy.
Building up a tolerance to the feelings of joy can be a focus for healing.Taking breaks means instead of causing painful diversions, actually integrating the joy with lying down, stretching, writing, meditating, or some kind of relaxation. Allow time to let the higher vibration in your body settle and adjust.Give your mind and inner child time to get used to these new sensations of power, passion, playfulness, and vitality. When one has lived a life of struggle and pain, this is a big and wonderful adjustment.
The reward for self-care is self-love. The result of self-love is joy! Go for it, you're worth it!
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Today, try an experiment. Focus all day on everything you are grateful for, and choose to have compassion rather than judgment for yourself and others. At the end of the day, notice how terrific you feel!
By Dr. Margaret Paul