‘Joy & Gratitude can be very vulnerable & intense experiences. We are an anxious people and many of us have very little tolerance for vulnerability. Our anxiety & fear can manifest as scarcity. We think to ourselves:
- I’m not going to allow myself to feel this joy because I know it won’t last
- Acknowledging how grateful I am is an invitation for disaster’
Brene Brown The Gifts Of Imperfection, p77-85
Woah, this really resonated with me when I read it this weekend! Following on from my last post re: gratitude, I’ve been actively practicing gratitude for a few years now – yet I can totally relate to the fear and anxiety as Brene writes above.
Brene writes that as a Mum, the fear of something terrible happening to her children prevented her from fully embracing joy and gratitude. Have you ever had that where you are feeling joy watching your kids and you feel so grateful and then you feel fear – ‘this is too good to be true, how would I cope if something happened to them’ and then you spiral away from joy and gratitude to fear and anxiety? I certainly have!
Brene writes ‘Until we can tolerate vulnerability and transform it into gratitude, intense feelings of love will often bring up the fear of loss’.
‘We’re afraid to lose what we love most and we hate that there are no guarantees’.
‘We’re wrong. There is one guarantee: If we’re not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times’.
She goes on to share the idea that if we let go of the concept of ‘scarcity’ – e.g. not enough sleep, not good enough Mum, not enough money, not enough time and instead discover the mindset of sufficiency – – enough sleep, enough love, good enough Mum, good enough moment, enough time, we can see that ‘Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are’ (Marianne Williamson).
In Brene’s interviews with people who had experienced extreme trauma she reported ‘the memories that they held most sacred was the ordinary, everyday moments….their most precious memories were forged from a collection of ordinary moments and their hope for others is that they would stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring’.
It definitely gives you pause for thought….this moment right now is good, and the next moment, and the next! If we broke our days down to moments – there are 1000’s of ordinary moments that are GREAT, and if we paused, possibly joyful and something to be grateful for! – yet we can often allow one not great incident to colour our day.
So be conscious today – when are you able to be thankful for an ordinary moment and let the joy bubble up and be grateful for it (e.g. holding your child’s hand, hugging them goodbye, sharing a laugh) – and when do you feel vulnerable and the fear kicks in? Brene’s strategy in the vulnerable moments that I love and am now going to use is to say to yourself or out loud ‘I feel vulnerable and I’m grateful for….’
What are you feeling grateful for right now? What’s your favourite daily ordinary moment that you can pause a little longer in and relish a little more?