Finding your JOY!
Many clients I work with are struggling daily to find their joy.
When I ask them what they are doing to create joy in their lives, I often get a blank, embarrassed stare back in return.
I explain that there is nothing to be embarrassed about – as we lose how to create joy in our lives quite early on.
We raise our children to lose their joy and other feelings as soon as possible – meaning to not feel – or at least to not show outwardly how they feel.
For example, when you see a child express him or herself (if unedited) it is actually the greatest and truest expression of what he or she is feeling. Crying at the top of their lungs, often laying on the ground – DEVASTATED. Well intentioned parents ‘shhsh’ and react by stifling this behaviour as it is deemed unacceptable, however, it is truly the greatest gift our children have in allowing the flow of feelings. The feelings need some where to go – out – releasing in a positive way. If the feeling has no where to go, then it will come back – usually manifesting in a different way (i.e. in children sometimes acting out for no reason and as we get older in diseases such as cancer), dealing with it in the moment is the best way to manage long term health.
Am not saying that we should all lay on the ground in public and have a fit when we are angry or sad. We do require an outlet to allow the flow of our feelings to ensure optimal health.
First, we need to retrain ourselves to tune into our feelings (to counteract the programming of not being allowed to feel from childhood). Possible places to start are as follows:
- Find a quiet room
- Turn to nature (i.e. a body of water, in the woods or a walk outside)
- Take a bath (could be with bubbles or epson salts)
- If a quiet space is unavailable, take a deep breath and close your eyes – no matter where you are (life can’t always be perfectly contained, so it’s actually good practice to try to connect to what you are needing and feeling anywhere and anytime)
Once you have found your place of tuning into your feelings, the next step is to try to connect to exactly what it is you are feeling. Be open to all feelings that may come up and be honest with yourself about these feelings. Try the following (I say try because the programming can be so engrained that it may take several attempts to start to tap in – be patient with yourself and remember that it took a long time to learn to supress your feelings so it may take some practice to tap back into them):
- Close your eyes or soften your gaze
- Take some breaths and notice where your breathing is at (i.e. is it shallow at your throat or is it deeper into your chest or even stomach)
- Deepen your breath to your diaphragm (below your stomach)
- Notice what you are most present to in your body (i.e. feelings such as sadness, a pain in a certain area of your body)
- Ask that feeling or pain/area of your body what it needs
- Allow the answers to come (try not to overthink or force it)
- Try offering yourself what you need
Allow enough time in between each of the above steps.
Does the above sound unobtainable? It may be the first time you try it; however, the more you open yourself up to the possibility of listening to what your body and feelings need, the easier the above may become. All you need to do is try!
Anger is often a stored emotion that we are uncomfortable expressing (again because of messages we received from childhood).
Expressing anger can be one of the best things you can do for yourself to maintain good health and allow room to access other feelings such as joy.
In order to express anger in a healthy and safe way, it would be important to create a safe space and time in your home. Make sure you allow yourself to be curious about what you are feeling and how you want to express it. Ensure any other people in your home know that this is time for you to be alone (if this is what you need) and that they may hear noise and that this is okay. When you feel the anger arise, you can try the following:
- Screaming into a pillow
- Wringing a towel
- Ripping up newspapers or other paper (remember telephone directory books – these are perfect for such an occasion)
- Punching and kicking a punching bag
- Hitting pillows (with a foam bat or another pillow)
- Writing your feelings (it doesn’t have to make sense – whatever words come out onto the paper)
- Drawing, painting or colouring your anger (the dollar store is a great place to get supplies)
- Regular exercise
- Something else that resonates or a combination of the above
The key is to start somewhere!
Please note, it is important that you have a safe space to do the above (make sure there is nothing around you that could get in the way and/or hurt you).
Releasing stored anger and sadness can help to make room for more of other things in your life including joy. You just have to be willing to give it a try.
Here are some other ways to help you find your joy:
Often in this hectic life, we forget to be present to ourselves. Stop and breath – even in the midst of chaos, this may help and enable you to notice your surroundings and what you are feeling in them.
Spending time with your animals, best friend or children can also help with being present – notice how they are all present and try to mirror their behaviour.
Finding joy in your day-to-day life.
There are so many things we do each day without thought – think about how many duties and chores are a part of your every day – brushing your teeth, making breakfast, cleaning the dishes/loading the dishwasher, picking up a prescription, brushing your hair, packing lunch, taking the dog for a walk, getting to work…the list is endless.
The next thing you do that is part of your day-to-day, take a breath and smile – feel what it is actually like to be doing what you are doing, notice your body and which parts are working, become aware of the beauty in you (how your body works, breathes and so on).
Those few moments before you go to sleep and the moments before you get out of bed hold beautiful opportunities. During these moments, think about everything you have to be grateful for in your life – everything from the grocery store clerk to the farmer who grew the vegetables you ate at dinner to the wonderful clean water you have access to through real plumbing!
Consequently, doing this before sleep and when you wake up also helps to set positive intentions for the energy of your sleeping and wakeful patterns – can’t get any better than that!
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward
Try to do any or all of the above as often as possible. Challenges may arise in your attempts to finding your joy however continue to be kind to yourself. Eventually it will become a habit (and the old habit of not tapping into your joy will go away)!
Happy joy hunting!
Would love to hear any other suggestions on how you make room to find your joy and/or if any or none of the above tips work for you. Connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org