Hello, friends! I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying your week. I’m soaking up sunshine and enjoying the opportunities I’ve been given. Today I’ve picked an excellent topic for us: how to enjoy life more. It’s time to stop fearing the drop.  Who doesn’t want that?!

Changing the thought process

This weekend I got to watch the new Brene Brown Netflix special, The Call to Courage (please watch it if you can. Y’all know how much I love Brene’s work and this special is no exception). I believe in the first fifteen minutes she asks “Who wants more love and joy in their lives?”. No one in the audience was silent. Of course, we all want that! It just doesn’t always feel attainable. As a defense mechanism, we tend to pay far more attention to the bad or dangerous things than we do the good.

Think about when humans were hunter/gatherers. We needed to attend to the mountain lion more urgently than we needed to focus on the deer. And our brains got really good at making fast decisions to save us from danger when quick decisions are needed. Our brain judges things very quickly as “good”, “bad”, “for us”, “against us”, and “safe”, “not safe”.

What it doesn’t excel at is deciding “I need more information about this”. I talked in another post about how we quickly write narratives in our heads that dictate how we view the world. Anytime we’re left wondering if we’re good enough or if someone else has our best
interest in mind or if we’re “safe” (the first two examples are also forms of being safe), we start to make up stories.

Our stories

Sometimes those stories are realistic and sometimes they’re fiction that is so outlandish once we say it aloud that we can’t believe we ever thought it. We come up with these stories, in part, because we fear the drop. You know that feeling you get when it feels like things are going just a little too well? That little knot that forms in the pit of your stomach because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop? When things are just a little bit too good?

Parents often get it when they’re looking at their precious newborn in their crib and can’t even stand to think about something happening
to their little one. On a much lighter note, when I was an anxious kid, I remember fearing when a friend would get a splinter/skinned knee, I would worry that I’d be next. Brene talked about tragedy rehearsal in her special and her research shows that many of us rehearse tragedy in our heads when good things happen and it certainly doesn’t keep us happy.

Protect ourselves from joy

Our brain thinks it’s protecting us because joy is a vulnerable emotion. That saying “the higher you fly, the farther you fall”? Many of us have taken it as a belief that we really need to protect ourselves from joy. Her research actually showed that people have two reactions to joy: rehearsing tragedy or being grateful. One group tends to be much happier than the other. I’ll let you guess which.

Your life is worth so much more than waiting for the other shoe to drop. Your whole life will have ebbs and flows. You will have high moments and low moments and you cannot 100% protect yourself from that. While I wouldn’t recommend putting yourself in
danger, I can tell you that you can live your life as safely as humanly possible and all you will save yourself from is the good stuff.

You have to find a balance but know that you need to keep your heart open to let the good stuff n and that inevitably means some bad
will get in, too. It doesn’t matter. It’s worth it. Joy makes life worth living. And joy takes risk.

Find some gratitude

So the next time you find yourself fearing the fall, remind yourself that falls are part of life, they’re worth the risk, and work to find some gratitude. You can be grateful that you have something so precious that you’re afraid to lose it. You can be grateful for anything, just push yourself to change your view from scarcity (“there’s not enough happy to go around”) to abundance.

Find your gratitude and look forward to joy rather than letting it make you feel like scarcity is shortly behind. Take care, friends, and I’ll see you next week!

Connect with Perspectives Therapy Services if you want to discuss your own fear of the drop.

Kayla Valley is a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) who works at the Highland location of Perspectives Therapy Services. She became a therapist to help people struggle with the depression and anxiety that she understands intimately. She loves being a Michigander and is an avid sewist who loves spending time with her cats and sugar gliders.

Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland, Fenton and New Hudson, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.