Sabotaging Joy: Why your mind won't let you celebrate wins

Jan 21, 2023

Allowing Yourself To Celebrate

Thought of the week:

"Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience, and if you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is you start dress rehearsing tragedy." -Brene Brown

In this week's dose, I talk about why our minds will sabotage us when it's time to celebrate our wins.

This week, I found myself as excited as I've been in recent memory.

We crossed 100 members in our community, reached 30 RSVPs for our 3rd cold plunge event, and onboarded a handful of awesome new clients.

Overall, it was my biggest week since starting PER.

Finally gaining traction after 2.5 years, this was really the first time I felt this much joy about what I've been working toward.

But right as I had a BIG smile on my face enjoying the progress...

My brain said, "Don't get too excited, you have so far to go."

And "You don't even know if this is going to work or if they will like it, so don't celebrate yet."

How fucked up is that?

When something amazing happens in life, our mind's default is to go right back into protection mode.

As the quote at the top says, our mind starts dress-rehearsing tragedy.

It presents us with a lowlight reel of all the ways it could fall apart.

We rob ourselves of experiencing joy:

  • It's not that great.
  • Don't get too happy, you'll regret it.
  • You have so much more work to do.
  • Celebrate when you get to the end.

Our mind prevents us from being happy NOW by making us believe we're allowed to be happy only when a future milestone happens.

If you're a high achiever, you get this.

Once you hit a target you've set for yourself, your mind immediately shifts the goalposts without you having any say in the matter.

But all we ever have is right now.

The future only exists in our minds.

Those future moments aren't guaranteed either.

We should know better by now because our mind has been doing it our whole life and will repeat itself even when we reach that future outcome... move the goalposts again.

Unless we break the cycle now.

I'm reading Dare to Lead by Brené Brown, and as this was all happening, I came across a point in the book where she talked about this exact thing.

(Gotta love the timing of the universe)

She calls it "Foreboding joy."

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Brown shares that Joy is THE most vulnerable emotion.

Because when we are in full ecstasy, our guard is down.

When we don't have the emotional capacity to tolerate that much vulnerability, we go into protection mode.

Our mind says, "You won't get me, I'll be prepared and ready, don't even try to sucker punch me."

Or the idea that if we take our foot off the gas, something will get fucked up.

We can't celebrate because we don't know if it's going to be perfect or if the results will hold.

Or we don't want to give recognition to the milestone because there's still so much work to be done.

But if not now... when?

If foreboding joy is the virus, there has to be an antidote.

Brown says the cure is gratitude.

Not the surface-level stuff, but the deep practice that fundamentally shifts how we view our lives.

She writes that we need to sit with the "Oh shit, I have something to lose now" feeling.

Embrace the idea that you are LUCKY and FORTUNATE to have that feeling.

Instead of going back to a response driven by fear of losing, be grateful you get to even experience this.

It's imperative we not only celebrate victories but express our gratitude for them.

Remember, your mind wants to protect you.

But what it believes is protecting us is actually preventing us from enjoying and living our best life.

Love is always more powerful than fear. Lean into that.

One thing I've found to help is to actually entertain the mind's idea that "it WILL fall apart if we're not careful."

So I'll write down all the terrible things that will happen if I choose to celebrate now...

Turns out, the list becomes comical, and I realize it's silly to not be joyous of the moment.

It's also powerful to ask, "But what if it does all work out?"

Let me know if this one resonates with you.

Tim 🖤

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