The human body is designed to self-heal minor physical wounds. While time may facilitate the body’s natural tendency, it may have an equally powerful influence on delaying healing when the wounds are invisible; intangible; emotional. Time may permit distraction, particularly when memory is tainted by pain. In that case, time may actually intensify wounds.
What distracts from emotional healing?
The illusions of fear, shame and guilt may be very potent energy deflectors. When any of these illusions are embraced without question, psychological pain may become deeper and more intense over time. These three illusions are what often serve to distract from emotional healing. When a decision is made to heal emotional trauma (intangible wounds), it is often a good idea to involve a trusted, respected, well trained mental health provider. One technique that may facilitate the wellness journey is EMDR. A mental health provider certified in this approach may be a valuable asset to your wellness team.
Internal dialogue may help heal emotional wounds. Time merely provides distance for the mind to gain perspective. Healing depends on the way in which one chooses to invest energy within the frame of time; that is, is energy invested in avoiding OR facilitating the healing process? Exploring this question is the first step along the self-reflective, healing journey.
We intuitively recognize our own personal pain at a very early age. When a person makes a decision (consciously or subconsciously) to invest a great deal of energy in mastering techniques to avoid – rather than in skills to deal with, that ‘familiar’ pain, the journey through life is defined by choices and paths that often distract from heartfelt joy.
How can I know if I’m distracted from joy?
If the goal becomes: “Avoidance of pain at all cost” this may signal distraction – since ‘joy’ is often the price paid for a ‘pain-free’ life. This is not to say any person must be a masochist – seeking pain in order to feel joy. On the contrary. Learning how to effectively deal with emotional challenges begins the path along healing, wellness, balance and joy. Courage to honestly self-reflect marks important steps along this path – especially when healing from past trauma is necessary.
Joy is powerful. It calms the body, centers the spirit and balances pain. In fact, when challenged emotionally, upon tapping into courage to face a situation, one may lean on joy for perspective. For example, a courageous person who becomes nervous before a particular event (i.e. stepping outside of one’s comfort zone) may tap into the following coping skill: looking forward to a joyful interaction or event either before and/or following the emotionally challenging, frightening or even ‘painful’ experience. Many tap into this sophisticated coping skill – often without even realizing it was a sign of personal strength.
Stepping out of one’s comfort zone may stir feelings of fear by triggering sub-conscious memories of past trauma. The reaction in the present moment might be out of proportion to the situation at hand; however, the reaction might indeed reflect what might have been a reasonable response to the past event at the time it happened. Or not. It depends on how accurate the memory – from the perspective of today’s moment, is. Has the memory been colored by fear, shame, or guilt? This and other self-reflective questions help the process of healing when explored in a therapeutic environment.
Back to ‘joy’. Joy eludes some; in general, those who are clouded by fear, guilt, shame and/or regret. Some people who are unhappy along their present journey, living with consequences of decisions made throughout their lifetime, may fail to appreciate the power available to them right in this moment – RIGHT NOW . . . to turn things around. Courage to self-reflect honestly, giving oneself permission to have transgressed, and accepting responsibility as well as earning one’s own trust by taking one step at a time to rectify past failures, can completely change one’s life. Dissolving illusions with courage is one of the healthiest decisions one can make.
I’m less miserable today than yesterday.
Is that ‘joy’?
Heartfelt joy is not measured on a scale of misery. Joy is, in truth, a centered experience; oneness with the Universe; an awareness of personal fulfillment and gratitude. Joy is a blessing often reserved for the courageous. It isn’t found in a bottle, liquid or pill. Rather, it is generated by internal processes unseen by the casual onlooker. It is a vibration from within. It is accompanied by feelings of comfort and balance.
We all experience moments, even days, wherein we feel ‘out- of- balance’.
There is a difference between (1) generally feeling joyful with the occasional ‘out-of-sorts/balance’ mood and (2) feeling generally depressed with the occasional lift. The former may suggest a well- balanced life, with ups and downs that keep us striving to reestablish our familiar comfort zone. However, the latter (example #2), suggests imbalance, as that person might strongly identify with (and be self-defined by) toxic feelings of misery, irritation, anxiety, and a perpetual experience of ‘feeling on edge’. When these are accepted as ‘familiar’ with the occasional glimmer of light (relief, as a deviation from the internally accepted ‘norm’) this does not represent a well-balanced, joyful, healthy mental state. Familiarity with misery, as in occasional experience with and/or empathy for those who exude it, is not the same as genuine comfort, balance or joy.
Feeling ‘out-of-balance’. Imbalance has several disguises, as it prefers to remain undetected. If it becomes a constant companion over a few days, weeks, or longer, it might present as ‘familiar’ thus ‘acceptable’ in order to be embraced without question. (The key to dissolving it is to question it whenever it creeps up). If we avoid self-questioning, the toxic vibration of imbalance defines itself as ‘familiar’ as if it is ‘comfort’ or ‘joy’. This is an illusion. There is a difference between ‘reliable/ dependable’ and ‘familiar/predictable’. The former is always paired with safety and trust. The latter is not.
Sometimes, one feels emotionally out of sorts (or out-of-balance) in response to a keen awareness that there is a need to heal, accompanied by a sense of confusion regarding how exactly to accomplish the goal. Interestingly, although ‘painful’ this experience suggests that a possible breakthrough may be right around the corner. That awareness, by itself, often results from tremendous courage and insight.
Life’s path forks at that point. The person may decide to successfully avoid growth OR may decide to further explore the healthy ways of investing energy. When a decision is made to stop investing energy into negativity, one in the process of healing often decides to cut negative (or ‘toxic’) people out of the inner circle.
Then, another fork presents. It is a challenge. ‘Healthy’ and ‘toxic’ may become blurred. For example, if distracted by shame, fear, guilt, or past unresolved trauma, a person who wants to heal might erroneously label healthy people as ‘toxic’ – cutting out the very people who may facilitate the healing process. If this occurs, and healthy people are mislabeled (thus, avoided), the healing journey may be delayed – unless of course a well-trained mental health provider is brought onto the healing team.
If successful, that mental health provider may assist the patient to understand the difference between ‘toxic enablers‘ and ‘truly healthy positive-energy people’. The result: a healthy, positive-energy inner circle may be rebuilt and family harmony (i.e. spiritual family = friends; blood relatives may be involved as well) might be reestablished on a healthier note, facilitating mutual growth and fulfillment of personal (and perhaps even professional) potential for all.
How can one know if another person is ‘toxic’ or ‘healthy’?
In general, a person who honestly self-reflects, accepts responsibility for (and demonstrates desire and the ability to repair) transgressions, and seeks as well as offers clarification patiently with generosity of spirit, is more likely than not to be able to embrace joy, and may be considered ‘healthy’ and ‘balanced.’ Behavior that signals potential imbalance may include a tendency to deflect, gaslight, blame others, and/or otherwise refuse to accept responsibility for personal transgressions.
This is your life. Your journey. Your choice. I wish you blessings and Namaste for the time and energy you devoted to reading this article. Have a beautiful day! ~Dr. Iankowitz
5 responses to “Finding Your Joy (5 min read)”
I continue to be blown away at the insightful observations and conclusions that Dr.Iankowitz reveals in her writings. From a professional perspective, her examination of the mental condition is right on target. Wonderful-keep it up Dr.I.
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Dr. Cohen, I have just discovered this golden gem and I am persuaded to agree with you. I will definitely read other joys that she has delivered for our viewing. Dr, Roberts.
Dr. Roberts, your sharing is deeply meaningful to me. thank you so much for honoring me with your comment. ~N
Dr.Roberts, Dr.Iankowitz has insightfully commented in essays, poems,posters and articles. She is worth checking out- rare to find clear eyed straight shooters.
Dr. Cohen, many thanks for your enthusiasm and generosity in taking time from your busy schedule to share your thoughts. ~N