Fear of Feeling Pleasure and Joy

Fear of Feeling Pleasure and Joy

One of my clients has shared a fear of feeling pleasure and joy—for fear of it going away. It’s as if feeling pleasure and joy is worse than feeling nothing at all. If you are numb, then you won’t have to feel the slope of loss and suffering that can come from the contrast of not feeling joy and pleasure.

Tantra is about embracing contrast. It’s about embracing the dualities of the human experience. As we release judgment on the “good” and “bad,” the bad isn’t so bad anymore because we understand that it is just expanding our ability to experience the contrary.

I found that the fear of feeling joy and pleasure comes from a deeply rooted place. Usually from the time we were children, surrounded by adults who also did not feel safe in feeling joy or pleasure.

Safety and security is a baseline need as a child. We may have stifled our joy and our pleasure in order to fit in, in order to maintain that sense of belonging. So our parents would still love us and take care of us and not reject us.

With that, comes a sort of guilt for feeling any sort of pleasure or joy, when others that we love are not. We feel responsible for the people around us, because we are empathic beings. We desire to feel that sense of love and belonging.

Feeling pleasure or joy in these types of environments is not safe. If we were to express our authentic joy, it may trigger pain in another. They might then project their pain onto us, or shame us. This results in feeling unlovable or rejected, and that sense of love comes from a place of feeling like we “fit in” or belong.

So we do anything to avoid that feeling, including shutting down our own joy to appease others. The truth is, we are not responsible for anyone else’s experience except our own. It is important to honor our own experience, especially in the presence of pleasure or joy!

So, how do we re-pattern this unsafety that we feel around joy and pleasure? How do we release the fear around feeling pain?

It is about retraining the systems of the body to feel safe in its natural state. It is a process of discovering homeostasis in the body. So, when we do open up to feeling more pleasure, love, and joy than ever before, we will have a grounding and safety in our bodies so that we don’t spiral into fight, flight, or freeze.

As we gain awareness of our nervous system and where we hold trauma, we can begin the thawing process of a frozen nervous system.

I like to think of the nervous system as an animal that needs tending to, to be nurtured and healed back into its natural state of safety and security so that it can play and be free.

If we do spiral into a trigger response, we have a toolset of remembering. This trigger is here for me to reclaim my body and presence, and to release past patterning and open up into new systems and ways of being. It is okay to feel triggered, because this means that we are expanding.

Releasing fear of feeling joy and pleasure also requires a sense of compassion for the parts of yourself that feel afraid of feeling pain. It’s not the pain itself that we’re actually afraid of: it’s the fear of losing something, and the fear of Fear itself.

This comes back to the Tantric notion that the fear of loss is only an illusion that our mind creates. While the experience of loss is a real component of the human experience, it is also a limited perspective on reality.

As we embrace the “contrast” of our ups and downs, there is never loss, but only gaining in seeing ourselves and expanding compassion for our entire existence. There is only more connection to Spirit, or Source, which is infinite energy that simply shifts and changes form.

The law of the Conservation of Energy is that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just shifts its form.

In the process of releasing fear of loss, we release the identification with form. We also release attachment to the ways in which joy, love, and pleasure takes shape.

The intention here is to expand acceptance for the pain. When it does arise, meet it with grace rather than resistance. Feel more deeply, and see the beauty that comes in the transformative process that pain can bring us.

Another framework for releasing fear is remembering the truth of your childlike innocence. Remember the YOU before you were taught to shut down your joy and your pleasure for the sake of others. Let’s remember our birthright as humans to feel joy and pleasure. No one can take that away from us.

Remember too that our pleasure and joy can actually heal others. As we shine bright and bring compassion together, we also bring healing and inspiration.

To open up to feeling more joy and pleasure, we have to let old ways of operating die… Even who we thought we were must be put to rest. Then, we can be open to a more authentic, joyful and, free state of being.

This comes with mental repatterning, somatic embodiment practice, energetic clearing, and perhaps being surrounded by a community that does bring safety to you to experience more joy and pleasure without fear or guilt.

This is a reminder, that what you fear is probably much smaller than what you imagined. What you fear, is actually probably what you want, which is transformation and change. Sometimes we fear the unfamiliar. Are joy and pleasure unfamiliar to you? Take a close look at why you might be afraid. Ask yourself if you are ready to go beyond the fear and take ownership of your pleasure and joy for the benefit of yourself and those around you!

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