I was sitting on a smooth, warm rock, by the side of a Colorado stream that carved through a small canyon near my home. The mid-day sun danced across the ripples on the water and warmed my shoulders, as my 3-year-old daughter’s laughter bubbled up from her splashing play with my husband, a few yards away.
A wave of sheer euphoria surged through my entire body and felt as if it would burst through my skin.
“I’m so happy right now,” I said to my husband, giddy with the deliciousness of the scene.
And then a dark shadow passed through me. A warning, that I’d better not enjoy this too much. Had I hit what Amy Breeze Cooper, the host of Soul Path Parenting podcast describes in Episode 15 as the “joy glass ceiling?”
That Summer day at my family’s secret swimming hole in the forest, I’d let the warning come and go, with just a slight dampening effect on my mood. I had to consciously listen, see if it was valid, and then let it go. I let the pleasure of the moment course through me fully. But I’d had to stop and make that choice. It wasn’t entirely natural for me to go 100% into guiltless bliss.
So, what is the joy glass ceiling? Why do we all seem to have some limit to our full expression and pleasure? After all, as Amy talks about in Episode 15, isn’t infinite expansiveness, love, light, and the joy of it all our true nature, our birthright?
Why was I stopped from this experience, and why would I be afraid to shatter my joy glass ceiling?
As Amy reminds us in Episode 15, “Imagine the kind of lives we can create for our children and for ourselves when we step into the limitless possibilities that life offers us. And yet so many of us don’t.”
One of the things I love the most about my daughter, is that from the time she was born, she was effervescent with delight. She woke in the morning laughing and, literally, jumping for joy. During her day, no matter the upset, she’d bounce back within seconds to peals of laughter. She seemed to savor the unknown, each unexpected twist and turn of the day bringing her worlds of wonder and endless opportunities for excited discovery.
I honestly think that this is why young children sometimes annoy the hell out of certain people, or of all of us at times when we’re feeling dis-empowered and depressed. Unfettered joy confronts us and scares us.
I know I was painfully course corrected constantly as a child. The grown-ups in my life would say things like, “Good little girls don’t scream inside,” or “It’s not polite to run up to strangers like that,”… “sit down”…”stop running”… “be quiet” “OMG you made such a mess!” “Get those underwear off of your head!”
The messages from our elders who were good intentioned, but, I now believe, misinformed, was to corral us into socially acceptable people with a fighting chance of success in a world that was not, and is still not, wired to understand those who show up in infinite joy.
Honestly, it terrifies most of us.
As Author and Spiritual Teacher Marianne Williamson is often quoted as saying, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”
And we pass that fear on to our children.
When I feel the joy glass ceiling creeping up on me, it often feels like fear that I’ll be punished with pain or suffering if I allow myself to be too happy. It’s that old lie that pleasure is the guilty sin.
I have a simple practice of catching myself in these moments and asking myself, is God or circumstance really going to send bad things my way if I let my heart burst open right now?
Once I debunk that myth, I then use gratitude to anchor the joy and energetically expand and call in more of it. I say a prayer of thanks. This inevitably shifts me back into co-creative mode with Source, and allows me to shed my old beliefs about God as punish-er.
The other way I’ve noticed that put a ceiling on my joy, is that old “don’t get too big for your britches” mentality that was prevalent when I way growing up. Embedded in my system is this notion that if someone is too happy, they must not be working hard enough, and they’re probably up to something unsavory (read sinful).
I absolutely do not want to be the crusher of my daughter’s joy, and this had opened the door for me to cleanse my system of the old messages that once doused mine.
If you’re looking to shatter your glass ceiling:
- Start noticing when you pull back from allowing your heart to sing.
- Listen for whether you fully accept a compliment, or immediately diminish it or reject it. Let it in with a big “thank you!” instead.
- Notice if you tend towards workaholism or having to “earn” time for self-care. Do you feel that you have to take care of everyone else before you deserve private quite time, a bath or a pedicure?
- Identify places in your life where you’d like to “turn up the volume” on your joy and dig in there to see if there are constraining beliefs that aren’t true. The areas of love, finances, and health and fitness are typically rife with hidden, limiting beliefs.
- Remember that the Universe matches joy with more joy, not with pain. Practice amplifying your thoughts and feelings of happiness and love by sharing them with others, creating moments of delight for others, and opening into gratitude and generosity. Watch and see how this expands and results in more joy!