Joy doesn’t mean ‘no pain’

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It’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve been quite busy and in all the right ways. I’ve also had so much personal growth, which continues to be a theme for me even after all the growth I’ve already had. I love my life. And it just keeps getting better. It feels funny in a bizarre sort of way because there are so many things I’m still struggling to find answers for or solutions to, but those are no longer the things that define me. Trauma used to, then my struggles, and now, what defines me is the joy in me. The joy I experience even on the hardest of days.

This weekend proved to me how far I’ve come. It was a great weekend with many parties and gatherings and I intentionally set out to question my own narratives and the meanings I’d ascribed to things and people. I questioned the narratives I was still clinging to and it turns out, they were bullshit narratives, just like I’d suspected them to be. They were narratives that mostly came from others that were abusive types and liars, which should have been my first clue not to listen. But I had because their abuse was louder than my own inner voice at that time. But as I cut them loose, I also began seeing those narratives as a problem. And I’ve been working years now to replace them. Some have been easier than others but this weekend, I ditched these last big problematic ones.

It’s a great thing to be filled with joy. Not the same as happiness. Joy is lasting and it rests at the base of all interactions, experiences, and day to day life tasks, everything… This joy grew out of my shift to a more positive-based thinking process, which does not include judgement about thoughts. Let me be clear…

After I wrote about positive thinking a few months back, I got some backlash with passive aggressive comments and posts about how being positive isn’t really possible or how positivity means ignoring sadness and other emotions that are hard. Which isn’t true.

The problem is that people assume negative thinking is bad and positive thinking is good. But both types can be problematic if we don’t take the time to stop and question the thought itself. What does this thought lead me to feel? How does it affect my behavior? When I’m talking about the joy I experience on a daily basis, it doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of sadness or a (now very small) moment of depression. It also doesn’t mean that I’m blind to reality and my lack of control over it.

Thinking positively during a job interview may raise my chance to get it but it certainly doesn’t guarantee me the job. In fact, it likely has very little to do with whether or not I get it. What it means, however, is that despite the job and whether or not I get it, I can still learn from the experience and I’m still living with a core of joy underneath the momentary struggle.

Our thoughts are powerful. More powerful than anything else inside us because our thoughts can cause us to be hypervigilant. They can cause us stomach aches and headaches and back or shoulder aches. Our thoughts can cause us to interpret a look someone has as a sign they don’t like us, when in reality, they may have an eyelash in their eye. Our thoughts can make us feel inferior or like an entitled ass, feeling that we deserve a promotion when we may not have earned one or… they can help us to move through the tough life experiences with humility and joy, even in the darkest of hours.

I’m not saying bad doesn’t exist or that humans should avoid unpleasant emotions, quite the opposite actually. I don’t think we should avoid any emotions but instead, question where they came from.

My internal questioning allowed me to be more open this weekend than I’ve been in my entire life. I didn’t let my thoughts drive the bus. I questioned my thoughts instead. And that is positive thinking. It’s just not the magical kind where woo woo coaches tell you to repeat x mantra 300 times and the promotion is yours (which falls into naive or esoteric thinking). It’s real positive thinking. Not the type of thinking that self-help books and new age books describe. I’m speaking about constructive thinking.

We have to think. We can’t shut that off. It is part of who we are and life requires thought. Ascribing meaning also applies to our thoughts, so being able to question our thoughts is necessary. We must look for evidence. And this weekend, the evidence I found was what I needed to let go of the broken narratives and lies I’d believed.

I felt pain this weekend. Each time I let go of a negative belief or thought, I felt pain. Yet at the bottom of all of it, I was still filled with joy the entire time. It was a beautiful weekend. I’m so grateful for all those I got to spend time with and all the broken beliefs I allowed to float away.

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About authorsienna

Author * Speaker * Blogger on sex, erotica, LGBTQ, BDSM, Dominance, submission, consent, and polyamory. Authors tales of dark desires and hidden fantasies.
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2 Responses to Joy doesn’t mean ‘no pain’

  1. I think this was a great blog and really positive, for you. However, what I would say is that you may be using the word “joy”, when what you’ve described appears to be “content”. Content is generally a longer lasting feeling of “everything is good” or “I’m happy with the circumstances of now.”

    What I would say – while I see where you’re coming from (regarding understanding negative behaviour, thinking why do we feel that way, and then improving upon that, learning from it, or moving towards a more positive experience) and I believe it can in some views, have its advantages; I feel that perhaps a more fulfilling way to live, is actually not to question why you feel the way you are. Because this implies judgement, or comparison, of a feeling that simply because you’re judging or analysing it, you’re no longer experiencing.

    That’s a bit of a verbose sentence, so let me explain. If I’m dancing around because I’m happy, for no particular reason at all, and then I stop to think, “Why am I happy?” I have now removed myself from an experience of happiness, to one of questioning. But since I’m no longer experiencing happiness, I’m analysing this new experience I’ve found myself in, which is a kind of “after happiness”. Regardless of what conclusion I’ve come to, I’ve removed myself from the now, and so either my arms will fall to my side and I’ll stop dancing, or I’ll pretend I’m still truly happy. But I’m not, because I’ve removed myself from it.
    Like when you’re in a stare, you catch yourself in a stare, and you try to remain in the stare – but you can’t. Because no matter how much you want to stay in it, it’s gone, because you’re aware of it.

    My advice would be – live in the now. Stop analysing, stop comparing, just be. If you’re happy, be. If you’re sad, be. Do not base how you feel now, based on how you felt five minutes ago.

    Thank you for the great read, nonetheless!

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    • authorsienna says:

      Hi Dalriada,

      Thank you for your feedback. I can see that you put some thought into my words. Your use of the word content is the same use of my word joy as they are both a ‘state’ of living with/in happiness. So I feel either works, but for me, joy also encompasses exuberance, which is why I chose that word. I also don’t need to feel/believe that ‘everything is good’ or that ‘I’m happy with the circumstances now’ so that I feel joyous. I can be thinking that everything sucks and still carry this underneath state of joy.

      By some of your comments, it appears you are new to my blog and haven’t had all the backlog of writings on being present, types of thinking, PTSD/trauma, and how negative thinking leads me to depression and suicide ideation. So stopping and thinking about these negative thoughts patterns is vital to my health. And when I’m in that cycle, I’m not present or ‘in the moment’. I’m stuck in the past. This goes for magical thinking as well. When our thoughts and feelings get us stuck in a repeat cycle, then it’s time to question the thoughts and feelings as the cycle itself is an indication the person isn’t present. Analyzing is a step in rewiring neuro pathways. For folks with PTSD or any unhealthy thought patterns, cognitive therapy is a crucial step toward healing. Our thoughts matter and create how we feel. This therapy specifically teaches us to examine our thoughts that are problematic (as in leading us down a trauma cycle or into thinking patterns that cause harm) and rewiring them. And this can include positive thinking as well if it’s not supported by evidence. This is why we ‘look’ for evidence. This is not to say we should analyze every single thought we have.

      When you mention that questioning implies judgment or comparison, I don’t agree. Questioning is about asking the question. That’s it. And it’s not about comparing where I was five minutes ago. It’s not about judgment. It’s about being self-aware and spotting patterns that aren’t helpful. If you haven’t heard any of his lectures, Dr. George Pransky has some helpful thoughts on this.

      Clearly, this is not going to apply to everyone. I also try to stick with what helps(ed) me because I have no way to know if a reader is in a dissociated state (which can resemble being present). So I stay away from ‘giving advice’. It made me laugh that you started this off saying ‘for you’ because yes! You are right! 🙂 This was about me and that was exactly my intent.

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