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Lara enjoying a Sand Bar off the coast of Key West.
Experiencing Joy in Key West, FL

“Joy is the most vulnerable of all human emotions. We are terrified to feel joy. We are so afraid that if we let ourselves feel joy, something will come along and rip it away from us and we will get sucker punched by pain and trauma and loss. So in the midst of great things, we literally dress rehearse tragedy…we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.”~ Brené Brown


The other night, I watched Brené Brown’s Netflix special, “The Call to Courage,” and was hit by this quote square in the eyes. It hit me because I’ve been feeling this. I have received so many beautiful things in my life in the past six months, things that I’ve dreamed of my whole life, and I’ve realized that I’m afraid to really embrace the joy that I feel. Why? Because I’m afraid that it’s too good to be true. As Brené says, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.


I’m no stranger to feelings of vulnerability and shame, but joy? In my coaching training, we learned that joy is one of the highest vibrational emotions, up there on the scale with love. But the feeling of joy can be challenging to pin down. We usually experience it as a fleeting emotion, but it is not easily sustained.


I was feeling sustained joy and, with it, the fear that soon I’d be spiraling back to some form of misery. I usually write blogs and posts about my experiences (usually challenging), and I realized I haven’t written about how happy I am or the miracles I have manifested in my life. Was I afraid I was going to jinx myself? Like, as soon as I write it down or say it out loud, everything will implode?


How interesting, right?! I’m comfortable with being vulnerable when it comes to failure, embarrassment, and shame, but not joy and happiness. Wow. That’s actually really sad.


I realized that this is a new level of growth and evolution on my soul’s path. I’ve made my way through several dark nights of the soul and transformed several times. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of my labor – what I’ve been working towards this whole time – love, peace, and joy.


I’ve taken so many risks throughout my life and fallen flat on my face because I knew in the depths of my being there was more to life. I have believed in magic and miracles and that anything is possible. Why, then, am I surprised now that it has come to fruition?


Brené Brown called it – fear of loss.    


So, I decided to coach my way through this, starting with acknowledging and validating the feelings. It makes sense that I would be afraid because in the past when I was truly happy, it hadn’t lasted. Hell, I’ve been divorced twice and had two broken engagements. These joyful moments crashed down on me. That is what experience has shown me, so it only makes sense that I’m afraid.


After acknowledging and validating my feelings, I ask myself, “Just because that was my history, why must this have the same outcome? Am I the same person I was in the past?” No, I’m not the same. I have been through hell and back and learned, grown, and evolved. I am no longer the victimized people-pleaser that I was in my past. I have learned to love myself and feel confident in who I am. I know that I am courageous, strong, and resilient. I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I deserve to be happy.


I consider another coaching question: “What’s the worst that can happen?” It might not work out. Okay, then what? Will I be okay? Yes, I’ll be okay. This is worth the risk.


I also acknowledge that life is a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs. There are likely many more downs to experience. So why not fully enjoy the up while I’m there?


Then comes the big question. “Will I allow myself to be immersed in the emotion of joy without fear?”


Eek! I notice constriction in my chest. Brené is right – this shit is hard!


Brené says that gratitude is the antidote to the fear of being joyful. Gratitude for what we have helps us remain in the present. Why waste time worrying about the future when now is all we are guaranteed? We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It’s a waste of energy.


So this is my current challenge – remaining present, filled with gratitude for what is, and immersing myself in the incredible emotion of joy. It’s a pretty good challenge to have!  










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