This year, I've been discovering the power of deeply connecting with your emotions.
It started with a recognition that I had unresolved trauma. I spent a lot of time trying to connect with my emotional core, but it really took a trip to Colorado to shake things loose:
"I came to a revelation. All of this trauma — all of this stress — all of this work I had done to retrain the damaged parts of my brain — it was no longer necessary. I was already healed, and simply had to accept this fact."
This unlocked a well of emotion that I didn’t know what there. I cried a lot. Tears of joy at being well, tears of anguish over the pain I’d been through. The tears alternated with one another. It was pretty intense!
After this, I felt a clarity and joy that was very powerful. I saw the world in 360 degrees, rather than in the traumatized and stressed-out narrow tunnel vision I had been experiencing. I was happy at the simplest things, I was happy just being myself. I understood with, and connected with myself much easier than ever before — I felt a lot more Erik-y! To borrow a phrase from Peter Levine, I felt that I had ‘reconnected my soul with my body’.
"I discovered joy. I discovered that it isn’t something which comes from without, nor is it something that comes from within. Joy is the natural state of every human being."
Travel has a way of shaking the mind loose from its moorings, and spurring you towards new discoveries about yourself. But traveling doesn't create the joy -- it's always been there.
There are parts of myself that didn't want to be happy. I've spent much of the past 6 months slowly accepting that I can actually be happy, and I've been trying to coax the various parts of my personality along:
A part of me didn’t want to be 100% healthy, 100% well. A part of me has been threatened by the prospect of there being no more excuses — if I’m 100% healed, then there’s no more “I can do that soon” or “I’ll be ready to do that tomorrow”. When I’m 100% healed, then life suddenly becomes a lot more complex and (in some ways) intimidating!
A part of myself was actively resisting this joy. Some would call this part of myself the ‘Ego’, or some form of performance anxiety. I’m sure there are as many names, as there are clouds in the sky :)
I’m ready for the next part of this journey, which is accepting joy, and trying not to over-think it or over-analyze it.
There is an abundance of joy in the simple things: spending time with friends and family, pursuing a passion, helping others. These are the things that make life most meaningful. They are also the things that bring us the most joy.
At its core, joy is simply the acceptance that happiness is your natural state of being. You don’t have to strive for it, work for it, or ‘earn’ it. Joy is an innate part of the human experience.
The most surprising thing, for me, is the reaction of people around me to genuine and heartfelt joy. Being happy is an incredibly powerful way to create change in others. It can inspire them to be happier, more positive, and seek out powerful changes in their own lives.
Happiness is a contagious superpower!
But this took a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of introspection.
Originally written on 2013-12-17