Trying Too Hard to be Happy?
I was talking to my 21 year old daughter recently, and she told me her goal is to stop trying so hard to be happy, and simply be present for all of her feelings. And while it has felt challenging for her to stay present, and she sometimes has to take breaks from the intensity of her emotions, she has been surprised by sudden moments of profound happiness that seemingly arise out of nowhere.
We both ruminated on how her deep attention to her difficult emotions has been inviting such moments of spontaneous happiness. We can mistakenly think we have to work very hard for our happiness. And when happiness arises without hours of effort toward positive thinking, we can feel like we do not deserve it.
Trying too hard to be happy is often a form of resistance to the emotional pain that is trying to come forward for healing. In reality we "earn" happiness by honouring all aspects of ourselves, especially our most difficult emotions. Happiness arises when we turn towards our challenging emotions and say, "I love you. I see you. You are worthy of my kindest attention."
From this point of unconditional self-love, emotions start to unravel and reveal their origins. These emotional origins point to the possibility of true emotional change.
Resolving Resistance to Emotions
In my expressive arts journey, I have made plenty of art that represents my resistance to my painful emotions - as you can see above! Resistance keeps us from accessing the tender, hurting places inside that need our loving attention.
Resistance is a protection device that keeps our wounded thoughts and emotions from the past from being reopened for healing. Resistance forms the walls of our comfort zone, so that we can continue to keep our emotional pain safely tucked inside, away from light, air, love and attention.
Within this comfort zone it is difficult to grow. The longer we hold onto our resistance, the more our emotional pain intensifies and accumulates over time. Fearful resistance limits our emotional expansion. Most of us have a great deal of stored emotional pain inside that some therapists call, "unfinished business."
Deeper than our resistance is something that hurts inside. This hurt is calling out for our loving attention, and once paid attention to, it will flourish into something more naturally positive.