Stephanie Red Feather
Shadow Speak
Is Your Joy Container
Full Of Holes?

While we all experience loss, how we react to it and how we let it inform our future can be unconsciously disastrous to our ability to fully receive and feel our joy.

Joy ContainerI recently read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and something she wrote left me with that gut-dropping resonance of, "Oh God, that's exactly what I'm doing." I had to put the book down and stare into space for a little while to fully process the impact of her words...

These are anxious and fearful times, both of which breed scarcity. We're afraid to lose what we love the most, and we hate that there are no guarantees. We think not being grateful and not feeling joy will make it hurt less. We think if we can beat vulnerability to the punch by imagining loss, we'll suffer less.

All of a sudden my difficulty receiving was cast in a new light. I finally understood why happiness was so fleeting and joy so elusive, why depression always threatened to creep in and why I often felt numb when my husband was at his most loving and giving.

The loss I have experienced in my life made me gun shy. I wasn't completely shut down and cynical as I had enough faith and optimism to stay engaged in the world, get married again, start a business and pursue dreams.

When you cut yourself off from feeling one emotion, you inadvertently cut off ALL emotions. Guarding against future pain also barricades you from current love.

But the dreams were small scale. My business achingly slow to grow in the beginning. My marriage something I often should'ed on myself about: I should be happier, I should be more grateful, I should do or be xyz (and the accompanying, "What is wrong with me?")

It became so clear that as a defense mechanism against further anguish I had erected a barrier to let in only so much happiness, only so many good moments, only so much joy. My joy container was full of holes and I could not hold very much joy or for very long.

The thought of admitting to myself how much I love my husband and how much I need him scared the crap out of me. The thought of fully feeling all of the precious moments in my life with nature, family, my cats, friends, horses, community -- the daily experiences of magic, love and abundance -- seemed overwhelming. When I made the commitment to allow it all in, it almost knocked me over. I have SO much to be grateful for.

Do you have difficulty receiving? Is it an effort to stay happy? Do you struggle with feeling shut down when you know you don't have a "good reason?" Do people in your life get frustrated with you because you can't accept support, love, compliments, gifts or "too much of a good thing?"

There are many factors that can contribute to our inability to hang onto joy or receive love and support. I encourage you to ask yourself if you're trying to beat pain to the punch by cutting yourself off from the things you love most to stave off the unbearable pain of eventual loss.

When we don't allow ourselves to fully grieve and express our feelings of sadness, anger, betrayal and loss -- and therefore allow it to clear from our energy fields -- then we hang onto it. We shove it underground because we don't have the time, desire or ability to deal with it.

There it festers and mutates into jadedness, bitterness, resentment, self-sabotage, depression, self-denial and numbness.

And then it begins to interfere with our ability to love and be loved.


By the way, if you haven't jumped to the conclusion yet, the pain of loss isn't lessened one iota by denying how much we love the person or thing or by shielding ourselves from feeling too much joy. The pain is the same. The emotions aren't stove-piped. When you cut yourself off from feeling one emotion, you inadvertently cut off ALL emotions. Guarding against future pain also barricades you from current love.

So why, then, would you deny yourself for one more day the full measure of joy and love in your life?

You have a decision to make. Are you willing to allow yourself to be vulnerable once again? To love with abandon? To fully feel how much you care for the people in your life? To release the pain of your losses? To embrace every drop of abundance, magic and love you experience on a daily basis? Do you have the courage to take the risk?

It starts by acknowledging your losses and expressing the grief so that it doesn't continue to condense into despair, resignation and dis-ease. Then, allow yourself to fully take in ALL the good in your life. Take baby steps if you have to, but take the step. Allow it in. Let yourself love. Let yourself be loved.

Suggested activities:

1. Keep a gratitude journal. I've picked mine up again and committed to write 10 things every morning and 10 things every evening that I'm grateful for.

2. Write down all of the major losses in your life. This can include death, divorce, break-ups, bankruptcy, children moving out, death of pets, job loss, ego death (old selves), moving, natural disasters, etc.

3. Give yourself credit for still being alive and making it to where you are in life! Chances are, you've experienced more loss than you realized or would ever admit to yourself. Give yourself a break.

4. Express your grief! Option 1: Purchase an art book and colored pencils/crayons/pastels. Label each page with a loss from the list in question #2 above. Every night or every couple of nights, give yourself permission to express your grief through art. Allow whatever wants to surface. Give your inner child permission to come out.

5. Express your grief! Option 2: Journal. Every night or every couple of nights, label the top of the page with a loss from the list in question #2 above. Allow yourself to say whatever you need to say. Give your inner child permission to speak, too!

6. Express your grief! Option 3: Work with a counselor/healer. If you're unsure where to begin or feel too locked up, consider working with some kind of therapist. I am happy to do this work with you. I would also encourage you to consider shamanic breathwork as it is an accelerated way to unlock what is stuck and move a lot of energy at one time.

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