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Unwrapping Joy with the 3-As

The experience of joy depends on what is going on in your world. It is joyous to welcome a healthy new baby into the family or getting a hefty raise at work. It may be more difficult to feel joy during a situational loss such as a miscarriage, job layoff or a death.

In additional to your personal situation, the state of the country you live in or the state of the world can also affect your joy. Global tragedies can have a personal effect. There may also be pressure for you to go through the motions of experiencing joy during holidays such as Christmas despite the adverse challenges you are facing. So, does that mean that joy exists depending on your external circumstances? Yes, if you buy into that notion.

Instead of depending on external circumstances for your joy, there is another option of accessing the joy internally within yourself. Looking within can be done using the components of the 3-A Coping Framework: Acknowledge, Assess, Assist® that I developed and apply in my private practice. In addition to grief processing strategies, there are a number of person-centred non-pathological methods housed in the Assist component of the 3-A Coping Framework. Borrowing from existing models, here are a couple Assist methods for unwrapping joy:

  • Internal Family Systems: According to the Internal Family Systems (IFS) psycho-spiritual method, each individual is composed of multiple parts. Underlying them is a person's inherent, undamaged core or true Self - I call it your Essence.  Everyone has the ability to access joy and the other empowering qualities that your true Self/Essence contains to lead your parts.

  • Cognitive Reframing: Another method that assists in going inward and unwrapping joy is raising awareness of your thoughts. Key is not allowing your thoughts to dictate your reality. It is only by knowing what you are thinking that you can explore your perception of your external circumstance, explore if there is distorted thinking and reframe your thinking to unwrap the joy. Reframing your thoughts is useful for grief processing in the case of the death of a close family member. It helps you to adapt in a way that allows joy back into your life.

Using IFS and Cognitive Reframing requires your willingness to go within and explore. The Assist component relies on the other components of the 3-A Coping Framework. You Assist by Acknowledging and Assessing. With practice, not only can you access joy, you can gain awareness of the external influences that wrap and bury your joy. Although not a quick fix, it's worth taking the journey to unwrap the gift of joy applying the 3-A Coping Framework: Acknowledge, Assess, Assist® .

Best Wishes,


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