The false joy hangover

You worked hard all day, doing things for everybody else.  The kids are finally asleep. Your emails, dishes, laundry and paperwork are as done as they are going to be tonight.  You finally sit down to take a little time for yourself and you settle in with your favorite chocolate chip ice cream and some R & R.  The next morning you feel like crap because you know you the entire container of ice cream is now sitting comfortably around your midsection.  This is what I call the false-joy hangover.

We need joy in our lives and your essential self knows it.  But in this productive, hardworking, don’t you dare take time for yourself culture, it is rare to find a parent who admits to regularly taking time out to do something they truly enjoy.  When I ask my clients what they do that feels like play, they hardly understand the question.  “I can’t take time for that” or “I wouldn’t have any idea what to do with myself” or “that would be selfish”.  It’s fear that keeps them from seeking and making time for joy.

In the meantime your essential self is looking out for you and sneaking joy in as best it can.  Over-eating, over-drinking, over-spending, or over-indulging leads us into false joy.  False joy leaves you with a hangover of guilt or regret.  It can give you buyer’s remorse or a compulsion to keep a secret.

Mary works full time and is the Mom of two young kids.  She is tired from burning the candle at both ends and finally manages to take a day for herself.  She give herself a shopping spree at her favorite store.  She has a great time buying beautiful clothes but by nightime, starts to feel guilty about the money she spent.  She ends up hiding some of her purchases in her car so her husband won’t find out.

Mary felt a ‘high’, followed by a crash.  This false joy hangover leads to a lot of negative self talk (“why can’t I do better?”  “I should be able to control myself”) which then leads to feeling crappy, which makes us yearn for more joy, which we don’t have, so we seek it however we can and the false-joy hangover ensues.  When people try to eliminate their false joy, without first bringing in more authentic joy, their success doesn’t last but the negative self talk sure does.

Authentic joy fills you up and expands to everyone you encounter.  It fills your cup up so much that it overflows and creates a positive effect.  Go slowly at first. Take your time.  Some Moms are scared they might jump on an airplane and never come back.  I think, just asking the question, helps our essential self feel heard.  Notice when you lose track of time, feel connected to the present moment, or a memory brings tears to your eyes.  Slowly bring in more of those kinds of joy filled activities and your craving for false joy will subside.  Ask yourself, “What do I want right now?”.  It may be to do exactly what you are doing.  Wh knew those nasty hangovers may actually be trying to help us?

 

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