Fear of joy is the secret, universal guard at the gate to love. And no one talks about it. Improvement-fixation turns our gaze away from the love and joy already living inside us. Tapping into these feelings–right now–is the greatest intimacy-hack there is. It’s the nuclear path to love. Learn more in this episode!
Table of Contents
- BEAR versus BARE
- Learning How To Bear The Fear of Joy
- Dropping The Fear of Joy and Embracing The Love Inside Us
- Letting Go of The Fear of Joy Allows Quicker Access To The Beauty of Your Being
Episode Introduction: Fear Of Joy
What is often more powerful in your search for love than all of the self-improvement, self-fixing and self-healing that you could do? What’s a practice that almost instantly drops you into a deep space of your own brilliance in love? Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating podcast to learn more.
Hello everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating podcast. I’m Ken Page, and I’m a psychotherapist and the author of the bestselling book Deeper Dating. Today I’m going to be talking about something that’s profoundly important, and in many cases will have a bigger impact on your entire intimacy life than all the other self-improvement work that you could do.
And it’s learning how to hold, and bear, joy and deeper intimacy. It’s a skill we don’t get trained in, but that has a vast and important bang for our buck. This week and every week I’m going to share the greatest tools I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and growing and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love.
And if you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating path to real intimacy, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com, and if you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get free gifts and learn a lot more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey.
And you’ll also find a complete transcript of every episode. Also, I just want to say that everything I’m going to share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment, and if you’re experiencing any serious psychological conditions, please seek professional help.
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This subject is tremendously exciting for me and so profound, and so, expect that there are going to be a lot of episodes around this very subject, and by the end of this podcast you, I think, will really understand why. What we’re we going to be talking about today is kind of counterintuitive and also counter to so much of what we learn in our culture.
Constantly, the focus in the entire self-improvement and personal growth movement is about learning to overcome obstacles, perform better, improve our skills in all arenas and fix ourselves. And that is both fabulous and often an actual flight from true intimacy and true growth and true self-love.
Because the truth is that at this moment all of us have almost kind of instant access, when we’re in a good place, to wells of love and meaning and profundity that are almost scary in their depth.
Bear Versus Bare
And the deepest work is learning to bear the joy that exists inside us already. And two different kinds of meaning of the word bear. One is the meaning in this quote that I love so much by William Blake,
“And we are put on earth a little space that we may learn to bear the beams of love.”
That kind of bearing and the truth that we don’t get taught is that all of us need to practice how to bear the beams of love. And when we do that, to get a little crude, the bang for our buck that we get in our intimacy journey is more than profound.
In fact, learning to bear the beams of love that live inside us is perhaps the greatest act of self-love that we can do. And the other meaning of the word bare is B-A-R-E, because when we touch these parts of ourselves that can experience so much joy, so much tenderness, so much meaning, so much depth, so much love, we then need to learn to bare, B-A-R-E, those feelings in the world.
It’s an act of generosity that draws such profound love, and this in a way is the deepest and most primary path to real intimacy because, you know, we can work on healing our traumas.
Well, let me just take a pause here and say, “I’m a psychotherapist. I do trauma work. It’s a very important piece of what I do.” It’s incredibly powerful and important for us to work on our trauma. I do it all the time in my life. I do it with my clients.
The Flight From Joy
So this is not a disparaging of doing trauma work in any way, shape, or form, but it’s saying that often the deeper, richer, more immediate, more explosively powerful and beautiful work that we could do is learning to feel and bear, and bare, the beams of the love that is inside us already.
So often we actually use our cultural obsession with self-improvement as a flight from the deeper intimacy that we kind of feel already. Jung said a beautiful thing, very, very powerful, very important.
He said that “All neurosis is a flight from suffering,” meaning that when we don’t want to touch the sadness, the pain, the grief in our being, we get into these flight mechanisms where we try to rise above that pain.
But really what we’re doing is we’re fleeing that pain, and that will always end up putting us into situations where a circuitry of neurosis kind of takes over and doesn’t get us where we want to go. So I think this is deeply true, but I think also so much neurosis is actually a flight from joy, because joy is hard to bear.
And I’m going to read something from my book Deeper Dating about that. “When we feel joy or pride in ourselves, most of us feel uncomfortable and we try to minimize our good feelings. Oh well, everybody feels the same thing. Or we instantly parry our joy with a self-deprecating comment that degrades or minimizes the positive feelings we’ve just had. Joy is hard to bear.”
Learning How to Bear the Fear of Joy
We shouldn’t fool ourselves about that. It’s an almost homoeopathic process. Drop by drop, we learn to bear joy for longer and longer stretches of time. And that’s actually one of our greatest life tasks, to learn to bear joy.
There’s a great cultural discomfort with joy and our voracious pleasure-seeking is often a mask for our fear of simple joy. And I went on to write, “joy frightens us. It makes our defenses quake. It almost invites a superstitious fear of the other shoe dropping.”
We can bear joy for fleeting moments, but for most of us, self-appreciation or resting in joy all too quickly devolves into self-measurement. I was speaking with a dear friend, a very gifted sex therapist who I’m going to be having on this podcast, Mike Moran, and I asked him, I said, “What is it that interests you the most in your work around sex therapy?”
And he said, “What interests me the most is that people, kind of no matter what kind of trauma they’ve experienced, almost always at some point and in some way can tap into a vein where they can experience sexual, deep connectedness, and I’m interested in how they can bypass the trauma and what that vein is that they can tap into where even with that trauma they can experience this wonderful sense of deep sexual connection and passion.” And I love that, and I think it’s a metaphor because all of us have so much trauma.
The Skill of Dropping Into the Space of Deep Love
It’s a traumatic world and the ability to drop into the vein that all of us have where we can right now feel deep love and then learn the skill of dropping into that space. That’s a skill that changes our lives right away and we don’t have to fix a heck of a lot before we can do that.
I know for me I can drop into those spaces pretty easily unless I’m stressed or angry or worried or obsessing over my to-do list. When things are pretty much okay, there can be a conscious choice to drop into a stream of a much deeper space. There was a client that I worked with and I wrote about her in the book, and she was a dental hygienist. And in our work together at one point kind of very shyly, she admitted something to me.
She said that in her work with her patients, she would sometimes just be working with them as a hygienist and she would be moved to tears. She would feel kind of such a deep stream of love in those moments, and I think all of us can relate to that experience. Watching a TV show, having some kind of a moment with someone we care about, reading a book.
Sometimes maybe in our work where we drop into a stream of love that’s so big that she felt odd about it. She tried to put the brakes on. She didn’t exactly know what it was.
Basking in the Deep Stream of Love
But in our work together, she realized that it was this deep stream of love that actually identified a huge part of who she was, and following that stream allowed her to live in such a way where her life grew in richness and richness until she found her beloved.
And that, I believe, is the seminal process of our intimacy journey. It’s to learn to drop into deeper love. Now that sounds really great, and there’s this quote that says,
“Love like you’ve never been hurt before.”
And I think that’s actually a somewhat scary quote because when we love like we’ve never been hurt before, we often get hurt again.
There are lessons of love that lead to discrimination. We need to recognize the places where we feel hurt and unsafe so that we can honor them and then not make the same mistakes again. And we can’t pretend we haven’t been hurt, but I believe that the journey is to look for someone with whom we feel deeply and essentially safe.
We feel like this person really is safe and consistent enough that I can do that thrilling and risky work of dropping down into my deeper joy, into those streams where there’s so much love, so much tenderness that they scare the hell out of me.
I know that again and again with my husband I get to that precipice, to that edge, and it’s work. It’s beautiful work, but it’s scary work, to say, “I’m going to drop down. I’m going to get that next stage of vulnerable.” And he’s someone I trust deeply and profoundly, but it’s scary. It’s embarrassing.
Dropping the Fear of Joy and Embracing the Love Inside Us
And I think that in this culture showing and tapping into how big the love is inside of us, how deep that tenderness is, how aching the desire to give and the desire to receive is, that it’s just kind of embarrassing. And I believe that it’s a great and powerful privilege to do the work of learning to drop into the joy and the love that we feel already.
Just telling ourselves that we should be able to just simply abandon ourselves to love all at once. Yes, yes, yes. A wonderful, wonderful thing. But for most of us in a safe relationship, we need to do that kind of in an ongoing way. This is not just a one-moment thing.
It’s a life practice to learn to bear, and bare, the beams of love and to assume that it’s so easy that you’re like, “Oh yeah, of course. Right? I should just totally surrender to love,” minimizes the profundity of what love is, how bright it is, the genius in each of us that’s so out of the box, so vulnerable, so beautiful, so scary.
The truth is that we don’t just need to get rid of our blocks against joy or love. We need to learn to bear the brilliance of them. The risk and the depth and the originality and the vulnerability of our love, and experience and grow in that wild risk of being able to reveal.
It’s such a fascinating thing. It’s like a choice point in our growth life. At any given moment, what am I going to fix? What am I going to improve, or am I willing to drop down into the love that’s actually there right now?
Choosing the Better Question
And I think you can feel the difference between those two questions. And imagine what it would be like, more and more, to make the second question your gorgeous practice. And we’re going to do that right now. I’m going to offer you some questions that will help you to be able to go to that gorgeous edge where you are actually getting stronger and more skilled in both bearing, and baring, the beams of love.
So here’s the process. I would just like you to answer these questions. You don’t have to write them down. You could if you like to, but you could just be driving and say them out loud, or running or walking or listening, just say them out loud, however you prefer to do that. Is there a joy or excitement or aliveness in you that has made you feel different?
Like it’s too much, or like it’s too tender or like it’s too quiet for the world, or too bright for the world, and it’s made you feel funny. This is your nuclear point of growth. It’s nuclear. Just imagine a you that lives out of the genius of that space, that embodies it and knows it’s a tremendous gift and is not ashamed of its brilliance. Just imagine a you who lives from that space. And now we’re going to be talking about bearing the beams of intimacy.
Choosing a Safer, More Vulnerable Relationship
But remember that these practices are only for relationships that are essentially and consistently safe, because consciously choosing to open yourself, open the inner petals of your being, they’re very fragile, they’re very tender, and we need to know that we’re doing it with somebody who deserves that, because we’ve seen who they are in the hard moments, choosing to be good, to be decent, to be honest, to have integrity again and again.
So, some questions, where, in romance or in sex do you hold back in terms of passion or in terms of sharing vulnerability? You don’t have to do anything with it, but just think of those moments and picture what you would touch if you dropped deeper, if you both felt and somehow expressed those depths in a safe relationship. I mean, that’s all of our dreams.
When in a relationship, and again with someone safe, have you worried that you’re going to be too much, that you’re getting maybe too tender or too truthful or too passionate or the depth of your need or the depth of your desire to give just feels a little embarrassing? Those moments are our gold. When we’re standing at those moments, we are standing at the edge of our beauty.
We’re standing at the edge of our deepest ability to love and to change the world and to touch people and to draw love. We’re standing on the edge of our magic. And with a safe person, when we can practice drop by homoeopathic drop to share those parts of ourselves, our world changes so much more powerfully and directly than the majority of self-fixing work that we can do.
Letting Go of the Fear of Joy Allows Quicker Access to the Beauty of Your Being
Now, once again, I just want to say if you have a substance abuse problem, if you have a psychiatric condition, if you have trauma that’s really blocking you, do that work, but do this work too because it’ll give you quicker access to the beauty of your being.
And one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself in your personal journey, one of the richest and most exquisite and most telling portals to the greatest you, and to a life that is more filled with the love that you want, is deepening into and noticing these moments and then stepping into them.
Learning how drop by drop, homeopathically, to feel the ripples of our love and to express it. That’s simply the greatest gift and, it’s how we learn to bear, and bare, the beams of love inside us. Try these practices, but only in safe relationships, or with yourself alone, and watch what unfolds and how quickly it unfolds for you.
So thank you so much for listening. There’s going to be a lot more about this in future episodes, and I’ll see you in the next episode of the Deeper Dating podcast. And once again, if you like what you heard in this episode, please do write a comment. Subscribe, leave a review. Those mean a lot to me and to other listeners. Have a wonderful week.