Have you lost your joy?

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who, I feel, has lost her joy. I say this because I remember when I lost mine. I remember just how I felt, how I acted and where I ended up.

Joy vs. Happiness

Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience, but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts and events. ~ Psychology Today

As a codependent, I am prone to take on the responsibilities of other people’s lives, care for others in a way that I think is helpful but is unintentionally enabling and unhealthy, and unconsciously manipulate others to try to fill some void within myself. Well, I use to; not so much today.

For me, losing my joy did not happen in an instant. It was a slow leak; day after day, week after week, year after year. I can look back now and see how I lost it.

I spent way too much time and energy hiding my faults and flaws trying to be perfect. I wouldn’t let anyone know how hurt, disappointed or angry I was. I shoved my feelings deep inside and was not honest when the people who truly cared about me asked. I certainly didn’t feel I could just come out and tell them when they didn’t ask.

I spent way too much time and energy trying to fix things and make life easier for other people. It did not matter that these things had no bearing on my life. My perception was that they needed help and I was going to help, whether they asked or not. I stuck my nose into too many things that were none of my business; things that could have and should have been handled by the person with the problem.

I spent way too much time and energy wrapped up in other people’s emotions. If someone was having a bad day, I could feel their emotions in my soul. If someone suffered a loss, I carried that loss within me. I could not detach myself from their emotions.

I spent way too much time and energy on trying to get people to like/love/accept me. I would do things to help them or please them in hopes of “feeling” appreciated/loved. They could tell me they appreciated it or loved me but I did not “FEEL” it. Just a little side note here: “Feelings” are LIARS. Just because I “feel” some way, doesn’t mean it’s true. That’s where we have to dig a little deeper as to why we “feel” what we feel.

I spent way too much time and energy trying to stay busy so I would not have to focus on what was going wrong in my life. I was a workaholic. I busied myself in the church. I would even go window shopping just to avoid being home and having to deal with myself.

I spent absolutely NO time or energy trying to learn about myself and what I liked or needed. Zip, zilch, nada.

When my “joy tank” finally dried up, it cracked. When it cracked, I ended up in a psychiatric facility. Trust me; not a vacation venue you want to visit!

My life is full of joy today. Sure, sometimes I get into a little funk but it’s that joy that pulls me out quickly. I know when I am feeling down, I can step back and think about why I am feeling this way:

Am I doing too much?

Am I taking on responsibilities that are not mine?

Am I worrying about people/circumstances that are not within my control or are even “none of my business”?

Am I trying to live up to someone else’s expectations?

Am I setting unrealistic expectations on myself or others?

Am I being ungrateful?

Am I letting people cross my boundaries or am I encroaching on theirs?

When I answer these questions HONESTLY, I am able to regain control over my life and emotions and come back to a place of peace and joy. I don’t have time to waste living a joyless life anymore. Today I choose joy!

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