3 Antidotes to Foreboding Joy

In my last post, I shared a little about the wisdom of joy – its’ function, message, need or “ask”, and some questions to help you explore it further. I also shared a little about the tendency to subdue joy or what Dr. Brené Brown refers to as ‘foreboding joy’ and psychology refers to as ‘impending doom’. 

It can be difficult to understand why we’d subdue or forebode our joy, when we long for it so deeply; however, as we understand that our brains are wired to help us survive – even at the cost of thriving, it begins to make sense. 

As a recap, we’re wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure, but as survival is our first priority, we prioritize avoiding pain. 

How Joy Fits In

You may recall that the function of joy is to lift our spirits, rejuvenate our soul, and open our heart.

The message joy brings is that there’s something to be happy about and to celebrate.

The need or “ask” is to connect with ourselves and/or others, to share our joy, and to celebrate.


Foreboding Joy

This very open-hearted place is vulnerable, as the emotional pain is great when we’re dropped unexpectedly from a joyful high.

The crash can feel devastating – even traumatic.

As such, it doesn’t take many of these experiences, to learn to protect ourselves from ever being caught off-guard again. Enter: ‘foreboding joy’ or impending doom to the rescue.

But…

We still long for joy!


The Backfire

At some point, we may realize that as much as this protection strategy helps us soften potential pain, it creates another kind of pain:

  • the inability to feel deep joy with ease
  • the chronic worrying and anxiety that comes along with constant vigilance
  • the empty feeling of accomplishment without fulfillment 

The Antidote

Here are a few methods that have personally helped me open to joy, despite some pretty heavy losses and traumas. 

  1. Shadow work. 
  2. Healing past traumas.
  3. Building inner trust and resiliency. 

All the above are powerful in their own right, but for sake of time and focus, I’d like to focus on building inner trust and resiliency, because this is something we can do a little more effectively on our own, than the other two.

Inner trust and Resiliency

This is about knowing that you can handle whatever comes your way. It’s about fostering a deep belief and trust that you are bigger or stronger than anything that can, or will ever, happen to you.

As this is much easier said than done, here are a few exercises to help:

Exercises:

  1. Create a timeline of your life. For each decade of your life, list 3-5 things you’ve done or overcome, that you weren’t sure at the time you could. (Don’t include anything that you still feel traumatized or deeply triggered by. This is just for the things you have overcome or healed.)
     
  2. Soak up this list of experiences and who you were to have overcome them. Next to each item, write a list of 3-5 words to describe the kind of person capable of doing or overcoming that thing. (For example: brave, resourceful, determined…)
     
  3. Soak this list of personal strengths and powers in. Although you may currently have a few things to heal or overcome, notice that you have a proven track record for surviving every hard thing you’ve ever faced. It may not have been pretty, but you’re still here, which makes that a 100% success rate. (Healing is another matter, which is possible with appropriate support.)
     
  4. From this framework, practice trusting that you can handle any situation that comes your way. (Fortunately for us all, this is not a trait that you’re either born with or not. It is a skill, which can be developed with practice.)

    It may not have been easy. It may have even been downright messy, but you overcame it. You can trust yourself to do, and overcome, hard things.

    The more deeply you know this, the safer it will be for you to feel joy (when appropriate), without foreboding or subduing it. 
     
  5. Use this holiday season to practice JOY and celebration wherever you can. Take note of the impact of joy on your spirit, your soul, your heart, your relationships and overall experience of life.

Potential Affirmations or Mirror Work

If you like affirmations, mirror work, or EFT/tapping, you may enjoy this series of statements:

  1. Set up Statement for EFT: “Even though I subdue or forebode joy, I deeply love and accept myself.”
  2. Foreboding joy protects me from pain and helps me feel safe. But it costs me my happiness.
  3. Anticipating pain and tempering my joy to be safe, is no longer how I choose to live.
  4. I have gotten through every hard thing I’ve ever faced. 
  5. It may not have been easy or pretty, but I’m stronger than anything I’ve ever faced. 
  6. I trust myself to get through anything. 
  7. It is safe for me to feel joy.
  8. I am here to live fully. 
  9. I am ready to feel joy!

What matters for the above statements is that they feel true for you, so feel free to adjust or modify as you see fit. 

Support

If you think you could benefit from more of this kind of work, you’re right.

We all can.

If you’re curious about shadow work, building trust and resiliency, emotional mastery, or personal coaching, you may love my 1-1 RISE Coaching program or upcoming workshop, Let The Light In.

  • Note: today is the last day to save $50 on ‘Let The Light In’.

If you are looking to resolve deep trauma, I recommend getting support by a qualified trauma therapist.

There are many styles and methods to any kind of therapy, and they all have their strengths. The key is to work with someone who is qualified in the area you’re seeking help, and to find someone you feel safe and comfortable with.

Whether you seek a trauma-informed certified coach, art therapist, chartered psychologist, or other qualified mental health professional, you must feel safe and comfortable with them, because this work is deep and we can only go as deep as we feel safe doing so.