What is joy? And more importantly, what the heck does it look like after abuse?
Is it something us survivors can even have (because, let’s face it, we face pain on the daily)?
I’m a huge advocate of living a joyous life—and I fully believe, with every bone in my body, that you can live a life of joy. You can have the career and relationship you want, you can wake up feeling excited for the day, and you can feel peaceful even in the midst of flashbacks and other PTSD symptoms.
If you think joy is out of reach, I’d strongly encourage you to read this blog. If it gives you even a glimpse of the potential or a joyous future, it’s worth it, right?
First off, what is joy?
Joy is a highly misunderstood experience…because a lot of people compare it directly to happiness. They’re really not all that similar.
Happiness is an emotion. Like all emotions, it can come and go rapidly—and it’s heavily influenced by situations in our lives. If we reach a big goal, we’ll feel happy. If we lose something we love, that happiness will disappear.
Emotions are complicated and, in almost all cases, out of our control too. Joy, on the other hand, is something we have the ability to control. We have the power, even as survivors of abuse, to live a joyous life.
So, what is joy, if it’s not the same as happiness?
It’s a state of being. Joy is the ability to feel at peace within yourself, no matter what is going on around you. It’s loving yourself through the greatest challenges and having unshakable hope and self-trust.
Can joy exist 100% of the time?
Theoretically, yes. Practically? Probably not. Even though it isn’t an emotion, joy can seem to rapidly come and go in our life too—but it works differently than emotions like happiness or sadness or anger.
Joy is something that’s always within us, it’s just covered up by other emotions sometimes.
When some conflict happens in our life, say someone hurts us and we feel angry, the emotion responding to that conflict gets loud. So, the joy deep within us ends up covered up because the emotion is so intense in that moment.
This makes total sense. An important emotion needs to be heard first. If we felt joy over top of it, we’d potentially ignore important emotional messages.
So, in the past, when you were living through abuse, joy was super covered up. I believe it was still within you (that’s what gave you hope to get through another day), but pain and fear were louder than this sudden feeling. They might still be talking loudly.
Joy is within us 100% of the time, but depending on what happens in our life it might be covered up. There’s always a sliver of it, but it can be quite hidden at times.
Now that you know what joy is, how do you access it?
Every one of us survivors faces pain from our pasts. The fear and hurt we faced continues to spill over into our lives today, creating PTSD or depression or anxiety or other conditions that linger even after the trauma is over.
These feelings of hurt and fear are strong. Why? Because they need to be.
If they were too quiet, they wouldn’t be able to do their job in protecting us. After all, fear lets us know when something’s threatening our survival—so it makes sense it covers up joy.
Pain and fear, as unpleasant as they are, have important messages. So, how do you reach the joy hiding behind them without dismissing their message?
First, you validate the emotion. Once it feels heard, it can quiet and the joy behind it becomes easier to notice.
That’s where coping skills, mindfulness, and more come into play. The more we’re able to regulate emotional responses, by either reducing the emotion’s intensity or allowing it to pass through us more easily, the more joy we have in life.
Strategies for living a joyous life
First, you need to pave the way for joy. Every time you release some stress or pain, joy can be more easily noticed. This means you need to solve major obstacles in your life, work through limiting beliefs, and develop ideal coping mechanisms to help you moderate tough emotions.
How do you do this, though?
Through The Prosperity Path. It’s a 6-step process that’ll build the foundation for a joyous life, with loving radical acceptance, reclaiming empowerment, and creating a crystal clear plan to bring you to your dream life.
Here’s a detailed description of the entire Prosperity Path. And here’s a quiz you can take to find out which stage you’re on!
After you pave the way for joy, by creating a plan to overcome external and internal obstacles (like limiting beliefs)—you’re ready to implement these joy building strategies!
Being grateful for the things you have, even in the midst of tough times, is a great way to invite joy into your life. The key, though, is that you have to validate the hardship first—then, add gratitude on top of that validation.
Live in the present:
This basic mindful practice is a foundation for joy. Once you’re starting to live a more comfortable life via The Prosperity Path (with better coping skills and less obstacles you face), it’ll be easier to access the present moment without feeling overwhelmed. This leads to a deep sense of peace and exciting engagement with life as a whole.
Clearing space for joy:
The Prosperity Path gets you started with this—as, after it, you know how to solve all obstacles holding you back from a great life. Following that, you’ll find joy by continuing to process new feelings and challenges. The more you do this, the more joy is felt.
How you can begin finding joy today
Joy may seem out of reach, especially after all the trauma you’ve faced…but I can promise you, it’s not. After 15 years of abuse, including near death experiences and sex trafficking, I’m living a life I adore. Joy is a regular and sustainable part of my daily experience.
Joy can become a major part of yours too.
We’ve answered “What is joy” and you know the basics of how to get it in your life. Now what?
Begin with The Prosperity Path. Each of the six stages is built to set you up for a life of joy, and they’re in a specific order for a reason. (Trust me, I went out of order in the past and it was a doozy!)
So, start by discovering what stage you’re in with this quiz. Then, read this blog to get acquainted with the whole path and make an action plan, like by joining this course or googling strategies to reach the next stage. That’s all you need to do to begin living a life of joy.
Also, let me know your thoughts on this with a comment! What is joy to you? Is it something you believe you can have in the future? (And why or why not?)