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Kristin Armstrong on Creating Long-Lasting Joy from the Inside Out

“We made it all the way to 2022, yay us. This is a perfect time to ask yourself what you really want, how you really want to feel?”

You know the feeling when you are going about your day and something happens or someone says something and suddenly it’s like tunnel vision, time warp, alarms going off, a sucker-punch in the solar plexus. Your breath is tight and your hands get clammy. People keep talking and their mouths are moving but you are totally tuned out, caught in the riptide of thoughts in your own head, drowning.

What the hell is going on? I thought I was beyond this?

Welcome to a trigger. Your nervous system has literally been hijacked. Old pain and old patterns are like energetic pockets floating in your system. They may be buried deep for a long time, but something tips them off and they bubble up and make themselves intensely known. Our first instinct is to push them back down; after all, no one likes to be uncomfortable. We hope it will just go away. But that’s like telling yourself not to think about the Eiffel Tower. What are you thinking about? Mais oui mon cher, the Eiffel Tower.

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“This is a perfect time to ask yourself what you really want, how you really want to feel?”

A client of mine, now remarried after an ick divorce, asked me “Why is this still happening, now that I’m finally happy?” Excellent question. It’s a totally different experience to talk about a potential future relationship and what might come up, hypothetically, and what actually comes up in the very real context of a partnership. A relationship at its core is essentially a spiritual partnership, designed to help us heal and transcend old crap and become a higher version of ourselves. Intimacy is forged in the fire of vulnerability and courage and trust. If we are willing participants, we can work together to alchemize past pain and allow it to be transmuted into a stronger, more beautiful and useful compound.

We made it all the way to 2022, yay us.

This is a perfect time to ask yourself what you really want, how you really want to feel? Do you have old pain pockets that bubble up, patterns and programs that you are ready to release? How do you know when you are really ready to live a life of freedom and joy?

Joy is different from happiness — let’s first be quite clear about that. Happiness is about people and circumstances lining up a certain way that makes you feel safe, peaceful, abundant and well-received by others. Where happiness is conditional, joy is not. Joy is independent of circumstances. Happiness is outside things creating an inside experience. Joy is an inside state creating your outside experience. Verrrrry different.

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Tribeza columnist, author and counselor Kristin Armstrong.

If we depend on someone or something else to “make us happy,” we get very disappointed and pissy whey they do not. “You need to do this and say this and be that in order for me to be okay.” Since we are human, we inevitably fail or miss each other. The wheels eventually come off in a relationship based upon conditions. I have had several relationships on blocks in the driveway, going absolutely nowhere. I used to blame the guy (and they are definitely not without accountability); however, I can now see that I was relinquishing responsibility for my own happiness, giving away my own personal power. Now that I know the difference, I never want to feel that way again. I like holding the keys to my own ride.

This might be either an ugly or blissful wake-up call, depending on where you are right now:

It is no one’s responsibility but your own to make you happy (ouch, I know … sorry … not sorry).

Deeper still, it’s your responsibility to create and maintain your own joy.

If you decide to get very clear on that, 2022 could very well be the beginning of the rest of your life.