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Healing Depression by Overcoming Fear of Joy

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Healing Depression by Overcoming Fear of Joy

This is one of my most personally revealing blogs to date. I don’t often share a whole lot about my childhood or inner process in my writing – because honestly, being open and truthful is scary. Being vulnerable opens one up to criticism and rejection. BUT I am moving past the fear with hope that my story will help you, the reader, in some way.

As I learn, I teach. My journey to becoming a counsellor has been in large part, through becoming a student of my own learning and inner process, and working my own healing path. Every time I learn something new about myself,  I can then share that with others to assist them on their path. There is always something more to learn!

Personal Development and holistic healing is my passion and also my purpose – I live and breathe what I write about, and what I teach.

Recently I have become increasingly more awake to the feelings of fear that can wash over me when I am feeling true happiness, contentment, and hope.

When I look at my kids, and am filled with such love for them, sometimes the terrifying thoughts will creep in, “what if something ever happens to them?” “you would never survive that”. Brene Brown speaks of this exact scenario, and when I heard it for the first time, it clicked, Wow, I am not crazy! (She explains this in her video at the end of this blog.)

It’s the thoughts that creep in, the ego mind, the voices of the past that tell me I better not get too happy, because something is going to happen to make it all go away. Then when it does, it won’t be such a let down, or as big of a fall if I stay down low. Or, it’s the waiting for the other shoe to drop metaphor. Maybe it is because in my life, I have seen so many shoes drop, and many, many times where the good feeling did go away. When that happens too many times, we shut down – often it happens early in our childhood. It is too scary to feel that vulnerable feeling of joy and happiness- so we close off and numb it out.

 If you are experiencing depression, hopelessness or apathy,  go back to your childhood, visit your inner-child and ask him/her “when did the light go out?”- maybe it was one instance you can trace back to, or maybe it is many that have accumulated within your body, mind and spirit. It is helpful to visit the past for these types of inquiries, but very essential not to stay and live there. Get curious, visit, inquire,  clear it and move on. We do not want to marinade in the past, but only learn from it so we can better move into the present with more clarity.
We are a society that has become fearful of our own happiness!
 One of the toughest hurdles for me to overcome, and still is at times, is my underlying fear of feeling true happiness. For the longest time, I was the most negative person I knew. I was deeply depressed, and ridden with anxiety and frozen with fear for many years. It took me a long time to unravel the negative messages I still carried that were embedded into my impressionable psyche at a very young age.
This is not an attempt to blame my parents. I do not blame them, because I know they did the best the knew how to do at the time. My father was raised in multiple foster homes his entire childhood, and suffered abuse I probably don’t even know the half of.

Because he was raised in awful conditions that no child should ever have to endure, it hardened him, repressed him and made his view of the world quite negative and dark. And in turn, because he was not conscious of his own inner process, a lot of his beliefs were passed along – as it often goes in families.

For many years, I believed that life is a constant struggle, people can’t be trusted, the world is an unsafe place, and that I have no right to be happy when so many others are suffering around me, and around the world.

I was given messages in my childhood that said “you don’t matter”, “you are a burden”,  “don’t toot your own horn”, “you’re not that great” and in many different ways was shown the world is not safe. So, this is how I grew up – believing I should not speak highly of myself, and naturally given all of this,  I sure didn’t think very highly of myself either. I am still working on this continually. Loving oneself is a tough job sometimes, but it is also essential to becoming who you want to be.

 A huge Aha! moment for me, was recently while my Dad was over for dinner. My daughter was hyper, giddy, silly and really excited and laughing a lot. She gets like this when he comes over, and I have not been able to figure out why – but now I wonder if she intuitively knows he needs her more upbeat vibes to lift his lower frequency and energy? I felt like I had to apologize for her excitement over – well, nothing. She was just happy, just because! We can take a lesson from our children in this way they are our greatest teachers of being happy for no reason.

He made a comment saying something to the effect of “she just has no idea what real life is like yet” And went on with some other negative comments about the horrors of the world going on.

I was floored, and felt like the ground below me was shifting. THAT’S IT! That is what I always heard growing up! I swore I had heard that exact statement myself once or twice as a kid when I was happy for no reason – then shamed for my happiness. Wow, right?!

 I share this through my own vulnerability in hopes that these words touch even one person in a meaningful way. I know I am not the only one who carries a niggling fear of happiness within. I see countless clients who in some form or another, are living with this day to day and are being affected in so many ways by not stepping into their feelings of joy and gratitude. I believe this is a huge reason we become depressed, and stay there.
The only way out is through, so we have to face the darkness, and look into the past to identify our core wounding experiences in order to learn from them and move past them. 

“When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability joy becomes foreboding.”
~Brene Brown

 

I hope you are able to embrace the happiness that comes your way, the little things that make your heart sing, the love that you feel, the joy in your heart. All of it. But only when we can fully embrace the dark, can we truly embrace the light. No matter how positively we think, things are not always going to go our way, and we will still have pain, loss and suffering because this is the nature of our human experience. If we can take everything that happens and find a way to learn from it, and better ourselves we are living empowered rather than as a victim of our circumstances.
I had a client say to me recently, “It must be hard to help people and not take their troubles home with you” and I replied, “yes sometimes, but I know that I can not help others from a place of hopelessness, and I can not feel bad enough for them to assist them in their healing”. Only from a place of fullness, and connection to my own joy can I truly assist others. This includes my children, friends, and even myself. It is my job to make sure that I feel good, nobody else can do that for me,  and that is not always easy to remember, because life can be full of challenges and down days happen to all of us.

When life knocks you for a loop, refuse to stay down!

Here is the bottom line, you can not feel sick enough to help those around you that are ill, you can’t feel miserable enough to help those who are unhappy, and you can’t feel depressed enough about the state of the world to help those who are suffering.
Yes, there are horrible realities others have to face around the world – and even on our own streets, but we can not feel bad enough for them to change those realities. Only through our love, joy happiness and conscious choice to evolve and break patterns within out family systems, can we truly make a difference. When we work on ourselves, we create a powerful ripple effect that reaches far beyond what we can ever imagine. So start with YOU, in your home with your family to embrace these ideas, create a positive family atmosphere, teach the children in your life that life is something to be grateful for, and that happiness is their natural state. Teach them to live wholeheartedly, and to embrace it all, all of their feelings, disappointments, sadness, happiness, giddiness, silliness and joy. And they learn best by example, so it all begins with you.
I leave you with this short clip of Brene speaking with Oprah about foreboding joy on  Super Soul Sunday – grab the tissues!

Download my FREE Master Your Stress eBook here!

What do you think? Tell me.

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