How Am I Blocking Joy?

We block ourselves from experiencing joy when we suppress other emotions, such as anger, fear and sadness. In this short conversation which took place during a Beyond Addiction program, Dr. Gabor Maté invites us to create space to experience our emotions as they are. Allow for whatever is there, accept it, and be curious about it in a compassionate way.

Gabor: Welcome to the real world. The world is not out there to support your joy. It’s actually there to sell you stuff so that you can feel you have joy temporarily.

A: Distract us.

Gabor: Yes, exactly. You know and it’s not there to support the growing part of you. It’s there to exploit the hurt, helpless part of you. So it is natural that it is hard out there. But it is also natural because our old habits take over, our internal old habits take over. Now in terms of if you have glimpses of joy and experiences of it, that is actually you. The reason that feels so good is because it is actually you. So then you can either say, ‘oh it is discouraging’, you can take that attitude – or you can say ‘oh that is curious, I wonder how I am blocking myself the rest of the time.’ One of the ways you are blocking joy is by blocking your anger.

A: To be fully self-expressed you need both.

Gabor: Either one will be emotionally, self-experienced anyway. Whether you express it or not is up to you but you have to allow yourself to experience it. So either you are going to say, “I am going to push down some of my feelings, in which case the joy is going to get pushed down too, or you are going to say I am going to allow for whatever is there, which in your case it is anger. You are just going to accept it, be curious about it, love it, hold it. So you are the one who creates the lack of joy. Get curious about it, really curious and not in a self-critical way but in a compassionate way. How am I blocking my joy? How am I blocking myself so that I don’t get to experience my true self and why am I still doing that?


For upcoming Beyond Addiction programs to investigate your emotions further, see programs.

5 responses to “How Am I Blocking Joy?

  1. “How am I blocking myself so that I don’t get to experience my true self and why am I still doing that?” I experience the hows as symptoms or manifestations of the whys. There is a BIG why: ‘because I lack Trust’.

  2. ahh well I am at the rage part of uncovering my trauma. You are right I do not get to experience Joy. So as I am 1 1/2 years into this therapy I will start looking at this one. thanks

  3. I have experienced true joy, the freedom it has was very powerful and yet I’m trying to catch it again .. I want my anger out of me I don’t know how to get it out of the way right now, like I’ve experienced before. I had a shift! But it’s been a few months of closing down again
    I have years of trauma and feel I need to get out more angry .. how? I seek the truth and don’t ever want to forget who I am (really am) again. That’s a darkness I don’t want to be around so I’m constantly trying to live better so life can be on the lighter side. It’s like the light softens the blow of the darkness but when I’m fighting back with darkness it only gets darker. I guess compassion is the way. How do I become compassionate with my anger.? Forgiveness?
    Gabor Mate saved my life, a few times. I send you nothing but the Best !

    1. Hi Catherine,

      Thanks for writing. Accept that the anger is there, and that it is natural for it to be there given what has happened to you. Witness it in the body when it arises, and hold it with compassion. Give it space without acting on it. We all have darkness and light within us. Accept the darkness and be compassionate with it. You can use movement (martial arts, kundalini yoga, jogging etc) to help discharge the anger from the body, or see someone who does body-oriented psychotherapy to help you explore it. All the best to you, Sat Dharam

  4. I recognize that my greatest desire is for love. To be loved and to love. I realize also that to seek it outside of Myself is futile which is the root of addictive behaviors thoughts feelings. Now I look within for a love relationship with my soul my light my being.

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