Joy is a foreign, untrustworthy character to the one who has trauma learned responses. The trauma response to joy can be – fear. Fear of joy being; fleeting, ending soon, and the dread to what will come straight after the current “joy” episode. Depending on how painful one’s past has been, those who have been through intense trauma or long seasons of tiring uncertainty and hard times, simply find it hard to trust Joy again. They did once when they were young but Joy began to betray them. Bit by bit as life dealt blows, the heart learnt that Joy is not a trusted and loyal companion but more of a setup. Step by step, the heart moved away from its identity of love and joy and the oppressive clouds of fear and doom began to court it, eventually overshadowing every other emotion. A “heaviness” in the soul set in and has now become the norm.

Before we go further, here’s a little explanation of the character “Joy” in the Inside Out animation by Pixar: “Joy is the protagonist of Inside Out. She is the yellow emotion and the main emotion out of the five that live inside the mind of Riley Andersen with the others being Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. She appears to be happy all the time and full of energy. (”. I found it interesting that she is the first emotion born as Riley’s mind develops.

Scared to be joyful?

If you notice a “fear to be joyful”, or thoughts of “I don’t want to fully engage in this joyful moment as soon, it will end and pain will come”, you may need to explore these learnt negative responses. These fear-based responses are mapped out from events from your past that will dictate the quality of your future. The good news is, you can choose to go on the journey to teach your heart and brain to relearn…Joy. This is a worthwhile inner healing journey that I currently am on too. One of unlearning and relearning.

Relearning Joy

The intentional journey of relearning the art of Joy is one that we must fight for. Assuming we have been doing our inner work basics (forgiveness, healing of emotions, etc) we can begin to teach our heart that “Joy” can be trusted again by beginning with simple things such as:

  1. A daily gratitude list: this act of consistently reflecting, chewing on and physically noting down the good from the day will create a pattern that says to your heart “good things do happen and will continue to happen” to me.
  2. Scheduling in fun: Some of us simply need to relearn joy, play and fun. We can be intentional in scheduling activities that teach our hearts to laugh again and in immersing our hearts in atmospheres of happiness and joy. If you struggle to find what you like to do, a simple vision boarding exercise may help trigger some hidden longings. Eventually, intentional scheduling will reduce as you fall into a natural flow; gravitating to joyful moments, habits, healthy joyful atmospheres and communities.
  3. Daily affirmations: whether through intentionally meditating on the good, speaking out daily declarations on expecting good, vision boarding – the act of intentionally expecting good can be learnt. Placing the endless possibilities of joy in front of you is powerful and expecting them for you is even more powerful. Even simple declarations of “I am going to have a good day” can begin the internal shift.
  4. Confronting the little gremlins: What lies pop up in your heart as you begin to see joy around you? These may sound like; “this is going to end soon, so don’t engage”, or “this isn’t real”. Noting down and acknowledging these lies is a powerful first step. Replacing them with truth is the next step. The truth is; joy is readily available and can be a permanent part of your soul once again. Yes, there will be other emotions bursting forth as per our circumstances, but joy can be the anchor right next to love that grounds our soul.
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Joy can remain

Going back to the truth; that joy can remain will lead to you being a joy carrier and one who shifts the atmosphere in a room. You have taught your heart that “a bout of joy doesn’t mean pain is coming” and that “joy can remain”, that “joy can be trusted”.

This morning; I felt in my heart the gentle whisper from God that “my children need to trust joy again”. Joy is available for our taking and can be our daily reality. Yes, we will move through all the other emotions but we can settle back into love, peace and joy. These are the highest frequencies where our hearts function from and flourish within.

For some of us, love may be what we need to relearn for we were never loved or nurtured. Some of us may need to relearn the language of peace as we have had to fight to stay alive. Whatever the language we are relearning, the one who created us is rooting for us to come back to the truth; that we are made from love, for love and there is much we have to offer. That joy, peace and love are the mother tongue of our hearts.

And to the already joy-filled person who doesn’t know what to do with the one who can’t seem to get joyful and excited about life – understand that some may simply need to find their way back to joy. You can help them by inviting them in (ever so gently) to experience this phenomenon again. Simple fun activities and intentionally, consistently creating “joyful moments” may help in their healing journey. But please note, patience, wisdom and understanding are key. You can provide the opportunities and invitations, but that is all. Release yourself from the false burden of trying to save them. Avoid bombarding them, carrying them as a “project” or falling into controlling and manipulative behaviours as you try and “fix them”. Know and accept that healing is a journey and there’s no magic button. Soon, if willing, they will relearn the language of laughter and joy as memories and wounds heal. You will need the patience to let them regain their inner strength and begin to trust the light. Learn to simply love people where they are as you encourage them to where they could be.

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