For me, English is the language of clarity and non-judgement. I have learnt most of what I know about personal development in English-speaking books, and listening to English-speaking coaches and teachers. When I was recovering from depression, I deliberately chose an American EMDR practitioner in Paris. Her name was Mary Zachary Cagniard and her warm, compassionate approach did me a lot of good. When I need to think clearly, I think in English, and some concepts, I can only elaborate in English, shunting French altogether.
This is why I have decided to also write in English, to connect with you brave readers from all over the world. I am not a native English-speaker, so there will be language mistakes. Thanks for your forgiveness !
The title of this article is actually a quote from Christine Arylo, American tecacher of self-love and the Divine Feminine in California.
What I’m about to talk about today seems pretty obvious at first glance, but, in fact, isn’t. I’m talking about consuming joy.
We all want to enjoy ourselves, right. And a lot of us just do it without even thinking about it (great, guys, you’re doing it right). But this might not be the case for all of us.
Recently, I found myself completely drained, hopeless and debilitated, to the point I had to lie in bed for a whole day, after having burst in tears visiting a new place for holistic training sessions. What had actually happened to me ? I’m a coach, I’m a reiki master, I’m supposed to know how to look after myself, no ?
You are a balance.
What had happened was both simple and apalling : I had let my batteries run completely low. We are functionning like a battery : we « fill » with joy, pleasure, fun, and doing creative activities, giving and receiving love. We « empty » (or drain) with worry and pain. Simple as that. Just like a financial balance, we have assets and liabilities. Fun fact, « balance » also means equilibrium. In French a « balance » is scales, weighting scales. Our « spendings » of energy MUST be covered by our « earnings » of energy.
But, what we are not always aware of, is that one single kind of soul-food is not sufficient to replenish our energy battery. To begin with, food and sleep and rest are NOT sufficient to maintain us in good shape. They are essential, and if you fail to provide them, your body will fall apart sooner or later, but you also need soul-food. Soul food is what makes you come alive. It comes in very different shapes and flavours : expressing your creativity, being your full self wholly and unapologetically, connecting to others, sharing love, connecting to nature, exercising with your body… you name it. You are the only one to know your « replenishing list ». Some of us need their sport session every week, and if they fail to take it, they feel depleted. Others really need playfullness : play with their children or their dog, roleplaying games with friends, a game of football, making cupcakes as a way of playing with marzipan decorations and coloured toppings… Some of us feel choked when they don’t create, be it with their clothes, their hairstyle, or drawing, painting, making music.
Why so serious ?
And the painful truth is… most of us fail to « refill » with each item in our precious replenishing list. That’s what really brought me down last week. My number one item is « connecting with others ». Talk, hug, share a meal, walk with a friend… I hadn’t done it for far too long, staying at home (I mostly work from home) copiously worrying about my work.
Why is it we fail so easily to replenish in each kind of soul-food we need ?
The first reason will probably surprise you :
★ Because we don’t know ourselves well enough. When we start in life, no one teaches us personnal development. Certainly not in kinder garden, or second grade, high school or college. Even if we are studying psychology. Nobody tells us « YOU are in charge of your happiness, you have to observe yourself every day to know who you are and what you need. Take great care of filling yourself with joy ». When we are simply following our Western cultural autopilot, that mostly says « work, care for your family and buy things », we can NEVER be happy. Two days ago I gave a coaching session to a young mum of 32 years that hadn’t gone out on her own for her own pleasure for FIVE MONTHS. She hadn’t done anything unrelated to her family for five months. And she didn’t realize that IT IS NOT NORMAL. Did she feel empty ? Hell, yeah. She felt like a hollow shell. Was she drained ? Yep. Not physically. But her essence was completely depleted. She contacted me to gain « self-confidence ». But what was really happening is that she completely had lost tracks of her own needs, and was living a life that wasn’t hers any more. She was having a hard time simply telling me what she wanted to do, be and become, and remained telling me of general stuff, like « being confident ». And this is so sad.
Now, if you don’t know yourself, you can’t give yourself what you need. And no therapist can tell you what you need. They can only help you rediscovering it. But really, no one knows but you.
★ The second reason why we fail to replenish is… because we have a very unhealthy view of what our days and weeks « should » be. We are litterally jammed with « whoulds ». We SHOULD be available for others, be good parents, be performant at work, AND be at the same time thrifty and able to buy expensive, luxury items. Oh, and we SHOULD look good, and do sports.
Where is *me* in all that ? Where are my needs, my aspirations ? Nowhere, as you can see. We SHOULD be successfull, at all cost… and we deprive ourselves of the only thing that can actually support our success : having our needs met. This is why I called this part « why so serious ? » Right, this is a quote from the Batman’s ennemy, the Joker, and he is not exactly a nice guy. But what brought me down to the point that I had to lay in bed for a day was clearly a toxic excess of « serious ». I had been worrying, poisoning myself with worries about work for weeks. This is HUGELY energy-consuming. Without replenishing, sooner or later, we are bound to fall apart !
We are doing it wrong
When something worries us, like money, a work, a relationship… we think about it. Think, think, think, worry, worry, worry. We believe that being extremely serious about it and being preoccupied will bring the solution.
I have a truth to share with you : it will not.
When we are focused on the problems, we cannot birth the solution. If you know about the law of attraction, you know this : being in an energy of worry simply *manifests* the object of your worry. The only manner of opening to solutions is to let go.
That’s where it gets tricky, and my clients and friends tell me « How do I do that ? It’s not a « just do it » thing, letting go ! »
Well… the answer lies in our childhood. When we were children, we damn well knew to let go. If we were stuck with a tricky piece of homework, or if we were having a quarell with friends, we just put it down, and went to play Lego, ride ou bicycle, hug Mom or Dad, take a walk with our dog, do our favourite doll’s hair or organize an epic battle with our action figures. We *did* know how to let go. And we did it by replacing worry by joy.
It has become very difficult for us, as adults, to do the same thing. Because we are afraid that if we let go, we are going to be careless, lazy, permissive or delusional. Fact is : we are not. We are simply tapping into remplenishing energy in order to be able to birth a solution. The process of letting go is the only one that can renew your confidence, your inspiration, and open your mind to insight, understading and opportunities. When we are cramped with worry, our « intuition antennas » shrink, we become rigid, go into « survival mode », consume a HUGE amount of vital energy, and basically, we shut ourselves to everything that is really likely to bear the solution. This is why people use the phrase « focus on solutions, not on problems ». When you are deliberately, consciously creating mental images of the « solutioned » situation (even if you don’t know *how* it will happen), you « thaw », you un-cramp, you open. Your energy circulates, you regain calm and clarity, and solutions can be birthed. But not until you have let go of worry.
Make counter-intuitive become intuitive
We function with false rules. We believe that to get our degree, be a good parent, make money, we have to WORK HARD. This is not true. The harder we work, the less we remplenish, the more we deplete our energy, and the more we « cramp ». And this is not likely to bring us the results we desire. I have been observing that for five years, and I can assure you : you cannot achieve your goals when you are in this « survival » mode. « Exams survival », « new parent survival », « entrepreneur survival »… As Terry Pratchett says in his »I shall wear midnight » novel : « This is no way to live. This is how people die. »
This may not actually kill your body (well… don’t forget burnout and depression) but it certainly kills our joy and our spirit.
So, yes, this is couter-intuitive : if we want to thrive we have to work LESS and worry LESS. I have forgotten it many times, and, doing so, I have heavily taxed my body, mind and spirit. When I am stuck, I must LET GO. When I am stuck, it is urgent to breathe, play, eat my favourite dish, hug my best friend, take a walk in the forest, dance, and… forget about work until I am sufficiently replenished to regain my clarity and inspiration.
And this cannot be done on a monthly or twice-a-year basis, oh no. Going to the spa after crashing down completely is no way to do it. You have to GIVE you time every day. Every. Single. Day. If you say that’s impossible, you’re just signing a contract for pain and depletion. And if you say that’s impossible, you are actually CHOOSING to see it as impossible. The fact is, you probably are already severely depleted so that you see this as impossible, and that’s the sign it’s even more urgent to take a pause.
I do not say we have to do one hour yoga every day, or that we should play football every single evening in the week. Nope. This is more « shoulds », and shoulds are toxic. You need to find the way to pu more joy in your day. And the good news is : you actually know how to do it. But you are probably just a little afraid to do it because it requires you to claim it, own it, and make arrangements for it. Don’t hesitate. This process of making room for yourself will empower you. It can feel scary, because you’ll have to say « no » to a number of things (like staying late at the office), but there is nothing more exhilarating that re-taking your power of self-care.
Whatever makes you happy, do it ! It might be as simple as chasing Pokemons in the street for ten minutes, calling your sister at lunch break, making a bouquet of autumn leaves, or put your headphones and dance your head off in the park. But make sure to find the way to fill yourself with joy e-ve-ry-day. And carefully check if you are consuming all the varieties of soul-food you need. How often do I hear me say to a friend « it’s so good to see you, how comes I have waited so long before calling ? ».
Yes, just like you, even if I’m a coach, I do the same mistakes ! But I’m also making notes, so I can help you.
If you want to solve problems, have fun !
My conclusion will be this : our personal development, our blossoming, thriving, flourishing can only be achieved with SURPLUS energy. As long as our batteries are not full, there is no surplus to un-stick the parts of you that are stuck. I am a reiki master, and that may be the most important lesson that I ever took about energy. If I am indeed stuck, lacking self-confidence, being unable to receive love, being fearful… I won’t be able to heal that without surplus energy. So, we all have to take action to create that surplus, and that means filling ourselves. This is why my reiki practise is so important : reiki enables me to replenish in a very simple, easy and quick way. The weeks when I’m not doing reiki, I feel that something is missing. You also have a « magic potion » for replenishing. Several ones actually. Find them, get them, consume them.
Your worries are draining you. So, if you find yourself in a difficult situation, it’s all the more urgent to fill yourself with joy. Because if your batteries run lower, you will gen even more stuck in your inner problems. Most of us are just surviving, from an energetic point of view. No wonder we find the world is going crazy : we are making it crazy by depriving ourselves of the one and only cure : joy.
So, now… just leave this computer, and do something that fills you up !