Building community in a changing world

July 20, 2021

The Most Vulnerable Emotion is Feeling Joy

I was surprised to find that I haven’t blogged yet about “foreboding joy,” a topic that Brene Brown talks about a lot. Foreboding joy is when you prepare for the worst, even when they’re at their best. It’s a dress rehearsal for tragedy. For example, thinking “I love my friends. One day, they’ll be gone.”

People are mostly afraid of feeling emotional pain. So you wind up not experiencing joy in the moment because you feel too vulnerable. Here’s a quote from Brene pulled from this blog by Yemisi Fadiya:

Scarcity and fear drive foreboding joy. We’re afraid that the feeling of joy won’t last, or that we won’t be enough, or that the transition to disappointment (or whatever is in store for us next) will be too difficult. We’ve learned that giving in to joy is, at best, setting ourselves up for disappointment and, at worst, inviting disaster. And we struggle with the worthiness issue. Do we deserve our joy, given our inadequacies and imperfections? What about the starving children and the war-ravaged world? Who are we to be joyful?