I have a goal of eventually seeing all emotions as valuable and finding it in me to appreciate whatever emotion it is that comes up for me. I’m not there yet, though. For now, I have a favorite emotion: Joy.
I love the way joy makes me feel. It fully grounds me in the present, my mind is quiet of all else but what is bringing me joy, my chest warms and I feel a lightness like I’m floating just above the ground. But with loving this emotion comes a deep fear and hate when it gets taken away from me. Especially when the joy isn’t allowed to run its natural course and ease into a new emotion. Rather it’s ripped out of my hands and a rush of new emotions abruptly consumes me.
To cope with this, sometimes I’ve leaned into foreboding joy. Foreboding joy is when we armor up. When we start to feel good and instead of enjoying it and leaning into it, we assume that the other shoe is going to inevitably drop and we want to be prepared for it. Because we assume being prepared for the pain will help it hurt less.
I’m not going to lie. I get the logic of this. I see why people would think armoring up would in some way protect them from getting hurt as much as they would without it.
But, what I’ve found is that in the end, I end up getting hurt more. Because the pain still seeps through the armor. You still end up hurt. And then, you’ll reflect and realize that when joy was present, you chose to not lean into it. So not only are you still hurting, but you also missed the opportunity to feel joy when it was there.
I don’t say this to make you regret all the times you leaned into foreboding joy. Again, I see why it’s an appealing option. I say this because I want you to realize that the armor you put up doesn’t serve the purpose you want it to.
Brene Brown brings this to light even further when she explains that joy is the most vulnerable of all emotions to lean into. Of course armor is appealing when vulnerability is the other option.
But, you deserve the joy. It’s scary, I know. … Especially when challenging experiences ripped joy from you abruptly and painfully. But not leaning into the joy when you have the opportunity to isn’t going to make it hurt any less when joy ends up leaving, especially if it leaves unexpectedly.
So, embrace the fear, hold space for the anxiety that comes, but keep taking steps towards that joy that is awaiting you. You deserve to feel it.
Kylie Larson, MA, LPC