My inspiration for this post was sparked by author and public speaker, Brené Brown, whose words resonate with me.
This post is a combination of Brené’s research and insightfulness, and my own feelings from personal life experiences.
As a child, I was taught to play life safe and not take chances. I was also taught not to get overzealous about my achievements and happiness because it would bring bad luck and those things might be taken away, causing me to believe that tragedy could strike at any moment, so I must be prepared.
I was also taught that pessimism was safer than optimism, because that way I wouldn’t be disappointed if things didn’t turn out well.
It took me many years to realize that if I wasn’t willing to take chances by not playing it safe, then I would never know joy. And that it was perfectly fine for me to celebrate my achievements because I had worked for them and was worthy.
But I have to admit, I still have brief moments of thinking the way I was taught, by allowing thoughts of “what if something happens” to creep into my mind when things are going smoothly.
Have you ever noticed how when we experience times of great joy, we quite often experience simultaneous feelings of fear?
And I believe the reason for this is because I don’t think we take the time to fully enjoy joy because our thoughts are elsewhere.
Our minds are sometimes focused on what we anticipate might happen to that joy…
“Nothing lasts forever.”
“I've had such bad experiences with relationships in the past, so what if it happens again?”
“I don’t want to enjoy my success too much because what if I eventually fail?”
“I’m going to stay right in the middle and remain emotionally neutral, because it’s safer there.”
It’s like we try to prepare ourselves for tragedy by doing a dress rehearsal, so we’re not caught off-guard when it happens.
Yet by doing this, we never fully experience the joy.
And I've done this myself before. I've created entire tragic scenarios of 'what if's' before they ever even happened, just to cover my bases in case they did happen. So I wasted all that time not experiencing the joy.
Personally, I think joy makes us feel vulnerable. And vulnerability causes fear because with vulnerability, there is no guarantee.
Vulnerability is the “what if.”
She said, “When we lose our tolerance to be vulnerable, joy becomes foreboding because we try to beat vulnerability to the punch.”
And I think she’s right. We play it safe by either not taking a chance, or we prep ourselves for tragedy.
But the catch to this is that when we play it safe, we prevent ourselves from feeling all the good stuff too.
Unless I allow myself to take risks and feel vulnerable, I also risk not ever experiencing joy.
Brené also shared, that in those moments of joy, instead of focusing on the tragedy of the 'what if's', stay focused on gratitude. Because when we focus on being grateful for what is present, that's what we experience.
Have a fantabulous Monday, y'all!
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