I have had countless dreams over the years, both the ones that occur during REM sleep and the ones that are present during my waking hours. Some of those dreams have been long forgotten or discarded, some have remained elusive, and still others have come true. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, the dreams that have been made a reality sometimes are the ones that .
Dr. Brené Brown’s research found that it can be difficult to feel joy, because it requires us to be vulnerable, which can feel uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. She has found that we may experience foreboding joy, which is the feeling when joy is quickly followed by worry and dread. I have written about this topic before, but since it has been a common theme of late, I thought it was a good time to revisit it.
Foreboding joy has been showing up subtly in different areas of my life:
- While writing content for a micro course, I was in the flow and feeling excited about what I was creating, until a litany of what ifs started. What if this isn’t good enough? What if it’s boring? What if I look bad on the video?
- When recording an episode for my podcast, I was having fun doing it and excited to share it, and then I started questioning myself. What if it doesn’t make sense? What if people criticize me? What if this isn’t beneficial?
- As I sat on my couch, wrapped up in a blanket, happily working on business projects, which is a scene that I had envisioned many times before, I started feeling guilty. What if I am not doing enough? What if I fail? What if I should be working a lot harder than I already am?
- As I planned ahead for the special occasions our family will be celebrating these next few months, I felt joyful anticipation, and then, I got bogged down in the details. What if our travel plans fall through? What if the events don’t go as planned?
While these examples are written out succinctly, when they were happening in real time, they weren’t as neatly spelled out for me to see. I was aware of what I was thinking, but instead of coaching myself to get curious about my thoughts, I went along for the ride, a bumpy ride at that.
When we are in the thick of things, even things that seem obvious, it can take an outside observer to help us to gain clarity about a situation. During a session with my business coach, Dr. Cindy Briggs, we reviewed an email that I had sent her the previous night. The content of the email wasn’t the focus, though.
Cindy and I have known each other long enough that she has become adept in reading between the lines with me. Along with reviewing my progress on various projects, she also picked up on the fact that I was in the thick of foreboding joy. So, we began our session, not focused on business, but focused on the business at hand, addressing the foreboding joy.
As we talked about the barrage of what ifs and feelings that crowded out my joy, Cindy said something that really clicked with me. She reminded me about prioritizing what truly matters and the importance of intentionally creating a business and a life that are joyful. Then, she said that when I find myself faced with joy to lean into it.
It’s interesting, because usually when faced with something that is uncomfortable or threatening, I lean away from it, not into it. Yet, here I was leaning away from joy and into worry and self-doubt. Aw, that sneaky foreboding joy had struck, again!
After this enlightening conversation with Cindy, I returned to the same couch and wrapped myself up in the same blanket and thought about what she said. I remembered all of the times I wished for many of the things that I now have. It pained me to think that now that I was living out my dreams, that I would deny myself the joy that comes with them.
So, I am focused on both seeking out more joy and allowing myself to lean into it. All of it. I am doing the work that I help others to do in their own lives:
- Being mindful of my thoughts and getting curious about them, without judging them.
- Practicing gratitude.
- Asking myself what if the best-case scenario occurs, what if I am successful, what if I am good enough, and so on, instead of only considering the negative what ifs.
- Being present in the moment.
This is an ongoing process, and I am right here with you. I am grateful for Cindy’s support, and I am grateful for being able to support others in their journey. We can lean into it together.
Part of embracing joy includes loving yourself, so, listen to Tuesday’s podcast episode, Ways to Love Yourself, to invest in the most important relationship you will ever have, the one with yourself.
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