Enemies Are Welcome Here.

As I was creating my working model this afternoon, I came across some words of wisdom that were put so well:

As Longfellow said, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” This applies not just to outer enemies but inner ones too. All parts are welcome.

-Richard Schwartz

This message rings true for me and for those I’ve worked with. Sometimes I feel “ick” or angered by certain people, and sometimes I feel those sensations towards parts of my self, or my history. But in the end, all parts and persons have a story, and if we could disarm hostility, we can begin to love and accept even the “ick” people and parts of ourselves.

But what of changing those awful, icky parts?

Through my studies, I’ve learned that we are all inevitably drawn to higher qualities of living and being when we feel safe, when we feel non-judged, and when we feel accepted as we are. Loving are enemies is not a natural human instinct, but cultivating this practice is what transforms others and ourselves.

4 Common Mistakes Even Good Therapists & Coaches Make

Therapists and coaches are human (*Gasp, I know*). We will make mistakes on a daily basis, and I for one will be the first to admit that I make them all the time.

However, there’s A LOT we can gain from learning from them and being aware of the big ones that we can at times continue for a long time when we don’t realize that we are making them. Here’s a list of some of the common mistakes that I’ve made, along with my peers and what to look out for when seeking a good therapist or coach.

  1. Thinking too much about how to respond vs. just listening. — When we are in our heads, we are terrible listeners. It’s just the way humans are created. When I first began therapy and coaching, I would often get so caught up in what “amazing insight” I wanted to point out to my client, that I would really miss the big picture, and not truly be present with them. I would wait for a pause, and sometimes *cringe* I would be so impatient to respond that I would cut them off. My “amazing insight” is NEVER better than really LISTENING to the client and giving them space to process. Plus, most of the time, my amazing insight is NOT what the client needs, especially when you give them the impression your just “advicing” on them. Much of the therapy magic is done through creating space for people to come to their own insights, expand their ways of thinking, and grow. My “insight” never trumps that.
  2. Pretending to be an emotion-less robot.  — I used to think that when you were doing therapy, it was a time to cut off your attention from yourself, and fully absorb the other person. While being present IS super important, it’s not very relationship building when we aren’t aware of what’s going on with our own bodies (emotionally or physically). In fact, naming our own discomfort or feelings during the session can, when done well, be very healing. I now let my client’s know when I’m feeling a bit off because of sickness, or if I just heard really bad news, or if I’m feeling like my heart is racing as a couple yells back and forth. I pause, try to differentiate, and tell them “I’m noticing that in myself I’m feeling my heart race and I’m having a hard time keeping up, can you slow things down for me a bit?” 9.9 times/10 this is more helpful for clients then pretending like I’m a robot as they engage in war or tell me about past trauma. By modeling our own emotion regulation, this helps clients learn to name their feelings and stay in the moment too. Helping our client’s build that skill is one of the most healing things we can do.
  3. Caring TOO much about your client’s success. — Yes, I said it. When we are overly invested in our client’s making positive changes, it is important for us to stand back and ask ourselves, “Why am I really THIS invested?.. Is it about my client’s long-term wellbeing, or is it about my need for them to be successful so my ego doesn’t take a hit?” When we are pushing for our client’s success, and stressing ourselves out in the process –that’s often called “working for the client”, and that is not a good thing. When we “work for the client” we are often doing their work for them and they never actually LEARN to do the work for themselves (Like getting frustrated with a kid and tying their shoes for them). Additionally, when we care too much about client outcomes, we often end up feeling stressed out and being unable to be the presence our client’s truly need us to be.
  4. Making assumptions about culture or what people know. — I used to think that most people had what was called “theory of mind”, or the ability to think about one’s mind and thoughts from an observational view. Boy, was I wrong. Most people struggle to name more than 2 emotions (and that’s totally okay!)… and weren’t odd, psychology reading nerds like myself. I have also learned that I can never assume I understand what a person will believe or what their cultural outlook is. I remember being confused and surprised when a transgendered client was embracing of so many different genders and sexualities, but still felt discomfort around gay men. Again, I am learning to open up my mind and experiences to being embracing of all viewpoints and understanding my client’s wherever they are coming from. And with my experiences, reaffirming that “every thing makes sense in context”.

Why People Are So Angry This Election Cycle

First – let me state clearly, this blog is not about MY personal political views or degrading or uplifting any politician. This is about understanding humans (integrating my own learnings on human behavior based on research & experience) and about why this specific presidential transition and election period has been so full of anger, Facebook wars, and aggression towards the opposition.

Anger is a VERY important emotion. It tells us when something is a threat or violates our values or our sense of safety. During the most recent election/inauguration, many people felt like their sense of safety and values were threatened on both sides and so, anger was a natural response. But if we really get to the heart of this anger, we will find a much more vulnerable emotion that can be hard for people to talk about — fear.

Many people are afraid they are in the hands of a leader that is unsafe while others are defending themselves for supporting the leader they felt was more safe. Emotional safety is highly important to all of us, and we gauge the people around us all the time for safety without even thinking about it. When it comes to who will be president, our desire for a safe and trustworthy leader heightens all the more.

During the election and into the inauguration many people feared that candidates on both sides were untrustworthy, unsafe, and would lead our country to doom.

But why are we so afraid?  And what makes us feel more safe?

Brene Brown, a research professor specializing the study of shame and vulnerability, outlines the traits of safe people with the acronym BRAVING. The more someone possesses these traits, the more trustworthy and safe they are.

As you read through the following, I challenge you to think about both sides of candidates — which traits did each possess? Which traits were they missing?

B- Boundaries. Do they set healthy boundaries, communicate them clearly, and respect the boundaries of others? Do they listen when people say no, or tell them they need space?

A trustworthy leader knows when to set boundaries and defines them in a clear, respectful way. They also respect the boundaries of others.

R- Reliability. Do they do what they say they will? Are they clear on their limitations so they don’t overcommit? Do they consistently follow through with their words?

A trustworthy leader knows their limitations, and commits to things that they can and will do over and over again. They do what they say they will.

A- Accountability. When they make a mistake (as all humans will) do they own their mistakes? Do they apologize and make amends? Do they hold grace for those who apologize to them for their wrongdoings?

A trustworthy leader owns their mistakes and let’s others have grace for the mistakes they own.

V- Vault. What you share with them in confidence will be kept in confidence. When they hear a rumor, they will not spread it and instead go directly to the source. Being a vault means that they don’t engage in gossip.

A trustworthy leader focuses on what they know, and doesn’t participate in gossip or spreading information that people tell them in confidence. They hold private information in privacy.

I- Integrity. Do they act from a place of integrity? Are they the same person they claim to be in multiple settings?

A trustworthy leader leads from a place of authenticity even when the people surrounding them disagree with their values. They lead by practicing their values even when it is hard, unpopular, and they don’t change what they say based on who they are around. They are the opposite of chameleons.

N- Non-judgment. When people need help, do they help them without judgment (but not without boundaries)? Do they try to uplift people  and help them find their strengths even when they are struggling? Do they empathize with those who are struggling?

A trustworthy leader, helps people become better without judging them for where they are. They help people find their strengths and have empathy for the struggles people face.

G- Generosity. Do they assume the most generous thing about people’s words or actions when someones does mess up or hurt them? After this assumption, do they check-in to see what’s going on with that person first hand?

Trustworthy leaders assume the best about people’s intentions and actions until they know otherwise vs. assuming the worst. They take a stance of generosity on people, and when they are being hurtful set the appropriate boundaries and consequences.

Based on the anger from both those on the left and right, you can see how most people believe neither Trump nor Clinton possessed all of these traits. For their strengths, let us be grateful. For their weaknesses, let us be understanding as to why people are afraid, angry, and resistant.

It’s scary to put our trust in a person to lead our country. Many of us ask ourselves, “Will this person have me and my loved one’s best interests at heart? Can we trust that they will do what is best for our country?”

It’s hard to know. And it makes sense that when they don’t possess all or most of these traits, we will have our doubts and instinctively be fearful. And when humans act from a place of fear, it often comes out the other end as anger, isolation, or withdrawal.

What can we do with this fear instead of getting angry?

We can talk about it in a way that identifies our fears instead of pointing fingers at others. We can take action by writing others or donating to causes that will defend the things we are afraid of losing. We can empathize with those who respond in anger and ask them how we can help them feel more safe if they disagree with the candidate we support. We can accept and support our candidate in growing in the areas he is lacking trustworthiness and become better leaders to those around us by working on our own trustworthiness.

I hope this helps us all remember that fear is a powerful motivator, but usually leads us to act in ways that are unkind, unsafe, and opposite of our true intentions. Let us recognize our fears, but not react to them — and instead take positive and encouraging action with it. Let us empathize with those who are struggling with their fear and anger. We are all human after all.

Being Okay With “Good Enough” From A Recovering Perfectionist

Admittedly, I really struggle with accepting “good enough” or being “okay” at things. For many different reasons (all stemming from various things I’m working through in my own therapeutic journey) I have noticed a desire in myself to work as hard as I can to be as good as I can be at every venture that I try without setting realistic boundaries, limits, or having much grace for myself in the process. The result? The overachiever-perfectionist mode or OPM leaves me feeling exhausted, depressed, and inadequate.

Knowing this tendency that I have for OPM, I have worked over the past 2-3 years more intentionally to slowly but surely become more okay with just being “okay” and saying “no” to myself on taking on too much all at once. As a graduate student who also coaches part-time, does CrossFit, and various entrepreneurial projects on the side — I really have to be cautious about the expectations and goals I set for myself and remember to be grateful for the progress I’ve made in the meantime.

One of the most helpful quotes that resonates in my mind when I begin going on an overachieving binge would be that,

“We will never fully arrive. If we think we have arrived, we are already far off course.”

These truths are so incredibly helpful for me because I have realized that this whole process of improving is a JOURNEY and we will never win at it. So, why not ENJOY that journey in the process?

It’s funny because most of my own “big-why’s” for setting certain goals is to become more of the person I think I want to be because I believe it will make me happier, more in touch with my healthier self, more at peace, and better able to serve others…. Ironically,  when I get into my OPM which I believe will help me achieve said “inner peace”, all of that goes out of the window and I lose sight of my whole purpose and drift farther from happiness, peace, and being attuned to others.

For this reason, I have set lower expectations, and practice being grateful for the “good enough”. This year, I may not progress much in CrossFit or my entrepreneurial projects because my main focus is on my clients and graduation. If I am able to be more present with them and get my degree — I will feel good enough and grateful that I am still a part of CrossFit (because I love my community <3) and able to feed the entrepreneur inside of me albeit with slow progress.

I will also embrace when I don’t get a chance to blog because my day is so incredibly hectic or a client is in crisis. The whole point of this blogging thing is for me to document as I learn and grow — and hopefully for that to be something that is inspiring and helpful in you, my reader’s, in your own journey of growth.

So to my fellow perfectionists (or to those who tolerate us!), my hope is that we can SLOWLY (not all at once or perfectly as we will be soooo tempted to do) give ourselves permission to be good enough with things as they are today, to be grateful for the baby steps along the way, and have grace for the moments that we fall and fail. In doing this, I have been able to grow a bunch more in my own personal and professional journey which has been full of failing, spiraling into the shame cave, realizing I’m spiraling into the shame cave, and doing things even when I really doubt myself.

Cheers to an imperfect, failure-full journey of growth in 2017!

 

 

 

 

How Avoiding People or Things Means Rejecting Ourselves.

When we avoid dealing or responding to a situation or person, we
are really saying no to the hard things that are coming up within ourselves
when dealing with that situation. *Whether we are conscious of these hard feelings or not.*

This is really unfortunate, because those hard feelings can be a great
opportunity for us to understand those parts of ourselves — what’s
really going on? Why does this suck so much? How do I make peace and
embrace this part of myself? Or how do I grieve this pain I’m feeling?

While there may not be any obvious, tangible consequences when we just
let time gloss over the things we avoid,  the true consequence lies in rejecting and burying pieces of who we are. When we reject & bury hard feelings that come up by avoiding hard situations, it’s hard for us to live from a place of truly being ourselves and letting others know who we are as well (i.e. not really giving people we care about the chance to love us as a whole – just the fragmented parts we choose to engage with).

So…where does the avoidance strategy come from?

Often people who choose avoidance as a strategy when the hard stuff comes up are acting from a pattern they developed waaaaay back when they were an infant. Adult avoiders were typically parented by people who were dismissing of emotional attachment in relationships. These parents would often normalize all experiences as being “excellent, or normal” without supporting those statements with concrete experiences/evidence and in some cases, stating contradictory support of these “normalizing” statements. When talking about emotions or attachment, their parents would tend to be brief and only highlight the “normal or good”, while not attending to the bad. When caregivers do this over time, the child learns to have a non-emotional attachment to their parent, not distressing when their parents come or leave and not attaching to them to meet their emotional needs. These children will often turn to toys or the environment to preoccupy their time and seek enjoyment. Additionally, avoidant children are likely to become dismissing adults, whose children will also likely be avoidant.

When the avoidant child becomes an adult, this translates into struggling to develop deeper emotional (and at times physical) intimacy with a partner or letting yourself be really seen by others for both the good and bad parts. Adult avoiders often unintentionally become dismissive of their own and others negative emotional experiences. These adult avoiders can even seem like the “happy-go-lucky” people who are always happy, but somehow hardly ever show their angry or sad parts when hard things happen. In the end, adult avoiders often don’t give others the gift of authenticity and full acceptance, annnnnd they also don’t give themselves that gift either. They essentially reject all unpleasant parts and build their lives on only the positive or neutral pieces.

Now, many of us struggle with avoidance from time-to-time, and temporary avoidance can be a healthy thing– like when we are overwhelmed and need time and space to process through complex emotions. However, if that avoidance becomes a long-term strategy and our go-to for any of the hard stuff, we may want to start questioning why it is so difficult for us to face the hard stuff and even consider working with a professional to do so.

Because at the end of the day, living a full, authentic and healthy life that also fosters intimacy and connection with those we love means facing ourselves, facing others, and embracing the good and bad of us all. ❤

 

How Hugs Can Transform Your Relationship

Plenty of couples spend time, energy, and money trying to fix relationship problems, increase intimacy, or simply kick things up a notch in their relationship.

Well, there is a free way to do all of the above that is often overlooked and underrated:

Hugging.

Yes, hugging helps all of the problems listed above because when done as a regular practice (and in the right ways) helps couples via the release of oxytocin.

Oxytocin has some really awesome side-effects, including:

  • Increasing feelings of bonding and comfort
  • Decreasing levels of cortisol (i.e. stress relief!)
  • Increasing levels of sexual interest and arousal between couples

Now, to get these awesome benefits you first must learn how to hug in a way that releases oxytocin and feels good to both partners.

Here’s some guidelines to do just that:

  • Hug for at least 10 seconds (count Mississippi’s or make that 20 fast counts), hugging briefly doesn’t give the same benefits.
  • Hug in a way that supports you and your partner… that is, don’t lean into them to the point where you would fall without their support, and don’t be so distant that all but your arms are touching. A good hug embraces both people (the self and other) and may take some practice to master — but is totally worth it with someone you feel safe with (and hopefully that someone IS your partner).
  • Do this at least once a day. Some couples report getting a lot of benefit from doing this first thing in the morning and then when they meet with each other again in the evening.

I challenge you to try hugging this week and see if it helps your stress levels go down and increases your feelings of generosity towards others. If you don’t have a partner, don’t dismay — you can also do this with a close friend you trust or a family member. This challenge is pretty cool because it doesn’t just benefit you, but also your partner. Also, you may want to tell them what you’re up to before you do it so they’re not too caught off guard. 😉

When Your Loved One Hurts You

We’ve all been there. We are talking with a loved one and out of the blue something inside of us gets triggered by what they say. Our thoughts and body begin moving faster than we can process and we get that feeling of discomfort deep in our gut or a racing in our chest.

“What did they mean by that?” “Are they trying to say that it’s my fault?” “Are we on the same team or are they seeing me as the bad guy?”

Our defenses go off. Many of us instinctively go to one or a combo of the following:

1. Avoid. I’ll just pretend like it didn’t bother me until this feeling goes away.

2. Fight or defense. I’ll try to defend myself with logic, attack them, or bring the focus to their faults to take the pressure off of me.

3. Flee. I’ll remove myself physically or mentally from the situation. I’ll go to the door, or change the topic, or check out in my head. It’s better to run from these issues than to fight about them.

However, these approaches aren’t connecting or healing in the long run. In fact, when couples get caught in these types of responses they create distance and disconnection to protect themselves and decrease their ability to be real and intimate with each other. It’s hard to be close to someone when our walls are up, or we run the moment things get uncomfortable.

So what can couples do in those “heated moments” to increase connection?

Name it to tame it. This concept was popularized by relationship researcher and neuroscientist Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Dan Siegel. When we are triggered by our partners, one way to increase closeness is to get real with them. Let them know that for whatever reason things are moving fast and something feels not okay. Name our emotion, to tame it. The research shows that it’s empowering and calming for us as humans to own and describe our feelings (good and bad) to another person.

An example might be saying something like, “Honey, for some reason that comment just felt bad/icky/uncomfortable to me and I’m not sure why… could we try slowing things down and talking in a way that feels safe for the both of us?”

Doing this slows the conversation down and increases our personal feelings of calmness and chances for understanding & connection with our partner…

What about when we feel REALLY heated and sophisticated words go out the window?

Then it may be a good time to take a self time-out and calm yourself before going through the name it to tame it process. An example would be saying, “I’m sorry honey. I need a self time-out, things are feeling blah right now… Let’s talk about this in 10 or 20 mins after I’m able to feel more grounded.” In that 10-20 min space, you can take time to do something that is self-soothing to you (cleaning, going for a walk, reading, a bath, video games, etc.) until you’re feeling a bit more calm and able to think and THEN try to name your emotion and express those feelings when you and your partner come back together and you’re able to think more clearly.

Like the scenario above, leaving a situation isn’t always a bad thing,  especially when you are feeling extra flooded (that feeling of really intense emotion that impacts your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes or problem-solve). The difference here is that there’s a safety net of telling your partner when you’ll come back to the conversation and that it won’t be something that’s left unresolved.

Naming our hurt or discomfort gives our partner the chance to understand and know that part of us. On the receiving end, it feels good to have our partner open up to us about their triggers and give us the opportunity to re-word things or let them know that we are on their side even if we disagree. It’s not that healthy couples don’t fight or disagree, but that they use those moments to practice care for a person’s differences and to embrace the messier parts of each other. In doing this, we are able to increase intimacy and our feelings of “I can really be myself around my partner, the parts I feel good about and the more insecure parts”.  For being able to really be ourselves, and love someone when they are trying to heal and understand their messier parts is a beautiful thing that every human deserves.

 

 

Why Jail Fails People Struggling with Addiction

*To preface this article, I want to start by saying that this is not about police bashing or to put out fear or disconnection to any sort of agency in America, this is about giving both an empathetic and responsible look at the War On Drugs and the system we are currently using with the more updated research that we understand now. I am grateful for having a system whose main goal is to protect us, and do good by American society, however, it is important that we also look at where the system isn’t working and learn from those well-intentioned errors. Also, instead of calling people “addicts” I will use the phrase, “people struggling with addictions” or PSWA for short, bc I don’t endorse addiction as an identity.*

Jail for people struggling with addictions doesn’t work. In one of my client systems, I was heartbroken that the moment they broke their parole by drinking alcohol the next step was to put him back in jail, and all of our work was put on hold. Not because I believe that I am some amazing therapist, but because deep down (and through reading through the recent research on attachment, trauma wounds, and the like) that jail for him was not working. And in fact, it was hurting.

Him and many other PSWAs had a past that had a lot of pain, trauma, misunderstanding, and lack of healthy family communication &boundaries. Turning to alcohol and drugs can be many things to a person: a way to numb out painful emotions, a way of feeling belonging and connection, a way of getting emotional needs met, a way to cope with overwhelm and depression, the list goes on….

Jail doesn’t meet these needs. Yes, it gives a punishment that clearly sends the message that this thing is not okay — but when complex emotions surface, drug use will always win over the painful feelings that come up. Drug use will always win over the scary and painful feelings of insanity, isolation, or worthlessness.

Jail can actually cause more trauma for an addicted person. It can increase feelings of disconnection, shame, and of not knowing how to be “normal” in the free world. One of my clients can’t sit away from a door from the beatings and the “boundaries” he had to create when he was in jail. Empathy, vulnerability, and healthy boundaries aren’t taught in jail… in fact, it would be AGAINST a person’s survival to engage in that. Unfortunately, in the “free world”, that leads to increased shame, disconnection, and inevitably turning towards a substance or something else (legal addictions like food, sex, or Netflix) to fill that void of disconnection.

Needless to say, jail isn’t fully working or fixing the problem. It’s just keeping PSWAs off the street and stuck in survival mode.

So, while we can’t overhaul the whole justice system here are my hopes for the future:

  • Prevention programs will understand the underlying causes of drug abuse and work to identify and point people to therapy, body work, or psycho-education resources early.
  • The jail system will allow people to attend therapy for the mind and body several times a week with specialists who address family systems, trauma, and attachment in their work.
  • That friends and loved ones of alcoholics and addicts will be able to communicate with both empathy & responsibility — always offering a hand of connection to the person beneath the addiction/alcoholism.
  • That families will also be extra-attentive to work on their issues (boundaries, ways of connecting, underlying mental illnesses, perfectionism/shame) when they have a family member struggling with addiction.
  • That we will seek to find other ways of helping the PSWA cope and self-regulate when their bodies and brain chemicals are creating discomfort. And after that, helping those who struggle with addiction learn to hold those uncomfortable emotions and know that they are not defected for feeling that way.
  • That we will honor and help people struggling with addiction.
  • Help those who are struggling with addiction find safety again in connecting with others and in their own skin through mindfulness, yoga, and the nurturance & acceptance of attachment needs.

If you have any other thoughts or ideas on this, I’d love to hear your feedback. You can comment below or send me a message on Facebook. With hope and shamelessness – Jenny

 

 

 

That Magic Number of Clients

Having too few clients, and a therapist can find themselves bored, frustrated, and broke.

Too many? You may end up feeling burned out, stressed, and unable to function at your full capacity in other areas of life (family, in the gym, etc.)

That’s why it’s really important to find your sweet spot. That range for you that you have a large enough client base to feed yourself and find excitement with your work, and small enough to be able to give yourself and your clients the best care.

Because let’s face it, when we aren’t taking care of ourselves as therapists, it’s REALLY silly for us to expect our clients to take care of themselves. They can usually pick up on our energy, our overwhelm, and when we reach a point where we are struggling to keep up with names or are looking at the clock in anticipation during session — that’s a good sign we may need to cut back on our client load. I realize this may not always be an option (grad school requirements, agency work, or otherwise) and in those times — self care during our down time (even if that means box breathing on your car ride to work) is EXTRA important.

So how do we find that magic number?

While it may take some trial and error, it will be good to reflect on when you felt energized and in “flow” with your clients. What was your case load? What was the environment you were in?  What was your level of stress in your personal life?

If you are on the low end of clients, try finding a niche of clients that makes you passionate. A good rule of thumb is to go towards a topic that you naturally gravitate to, what field do you find yourself reading about the most?  After you’ve discovered a passion and done your research, go give seminars and talks in your community surrounding those topics! Yes, you may still struggle with finances for a bit, but getting out in the community even if unpaid at first can be a great way to network with other passionate individuals in that field and be able to reach the people that you could help — all while honing in on your skills in that area.

If on the other hand you are carrying a case load that is WAYYY too large, you may want to see if you can start to refer some clients out, create boundaries around your work schedule and in best practice refer out those who aren’t willing or able to meet those boundaries.(I.e. perhaps you find you work best working only 3 days a week — set those days and refer out those who can’t fit in your schedule).

I know that this is MUCH harder to do than to read about. It’s hard to say bye to clients we care about and get connected to. But trust me when I say it is NOT best practice to continue working at a schedule that burns you out and steals your ability to be 100% present for your clients. It’s only hurting yourself and your clients in the long run. And if we are to honor our motto of “do no harm” it’s going to be important that we are also doing “no harm” in the boundaries we set around our case load.

When Happiness Feels Bad.

Although millions of people search endlessly and spend copious amounts of money searching for the key to “happiness”, some people find happiness to be a really anxiety-provoking emotion. This is because happiness is an extremely vulnerable emotion. As people review their lives in their head they start to think, “Life is good right now…the family is good right now…the job is good right now… I feel happy… But what bad thing will happen next? When will the next shoe drop?”

These fears can make happiness and joy a really bothersome emotion. Some people even stifle their happiness with hopes of not feeling too hurt when bad things do happen. This is especially true for people who have suffered through a lot of unprocessed chaos and trauma — their brain’s start to rewire to think, “How can I protect myself? FEAR and NUMBING, that’s the trick! (although when we numb painful emotions, the happy/joyful ones get numbed too)”. However, stifling our joy or happiness does not make the messy or sad parts of life any more tolerable, better, or easier to endure — it just kills our ability to really soak in our happiness.

So what can we do if we struggle to fully embrace our happiness without fear that something bad will happen next?

Gratitude. Gratitude puts us back into our emotion and into the moment in an active way. It replaces our fear of happiness with honoring that emotion and thanking it for it’s presence in our lives.

So, the next moment you feel a blip of happiness  — say a little thank you to it, and let yourself enjoy where you are. Bad things will happen, yes. But it’s best to not let that put a damper on the good moments, because it does far less healing of the negative moments when they do arrive (and sometimes may subconsciously chase more negativity into our lives…. and ain’t nobody got time for that). Be happy, be grateful, be well!