The difficulties of owning joy

Dr. Brene Brown, author of “Daring Greatly” states, “Joy is the most terrifying and difficult emotion we can experience.” One may ask how an emotion that brings such happiness and contentment can be associated with feelings of terror. Dr. Brown connects our fear of experiencing joy with our fear of our joy being taken away.

In order for this connection to make sense, one must put themselves in a situation of what brings them joy. Brene reported in an interview with the OWN Network that the situations in life that can potentially bring us the most joy ultimately can also bring us the most fear. In those moments of joy and cherishment, the immediate worry of that joyful experience being taken away invites that fear to control the joyful experiences. As a result, the intoleration for vulnerability occurs and then joy is forbidden; therefore, joy as an experience is non-existent and one is left with worry and fear.

The question remaining is how does one experience joy? Brown suggests that we should both let go of the fear of it being taken away and allow ourselves to become vulnerable. What may occur in times where joy is possible is the defeat of it by becoming intolerable to one’s own vulnerability. One may attempt to avoid vulnerability and joy by “beating it to the punch” and fulfilling our ideas that something wrong will occur. However, Brown emphasizes that the cultivation of joy and gratitude is letting of scarcity and the fear of the dark. The formula for joy is allowing oneself to experience gratitude for it, not shame or fear that it will go away.

“Attempting to accomplish this goal is a daily practice,” stated Brene. “However, what I’ve learned from joyful people is seeing that they practice gratitude when they feel joy. They don’t try to beat joy to the punch by worrying. They practice gratitude.”

Ashley Bergman, B.S. Professional Counseling/MFT
Graduate Student Therapist

ashley.janszencounseling@gmail.com

Disclaimer: Topics and subjects that pertain to any individual(s) is coincidental.The content of this article does not constitute mental health assessment, diagnosis, treatment or support. Please consult a mental health practitioner if you would like to seek counseling.

Share the joy
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