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.