Some people are afraid to be happy.  It isn’t that they don’t want to be happy or that they enjoy being unhappy.  They have come to feel that being happy will come at a price or will be followed by calamity or at least ill fortune.  In some cases, this dynamic can reflect superstitious thinking.  For example, some might believe that an unknown karma-like force ensures that good luck produces misfortune or that happiness must be followed by sorrow to maintain a necessary balance of complementary energies.  Thinking of happiness as a harbinger of misfortune would surely make joy a frightening prospect.

One might wonder why such a belief would not also expect that misfortune would lead to good fortune and sorrow yield joy.  But superstitious beliefs are not based on logical analysis or empirical evidence.   Such asymmetry in reasoning can result from a marked discrepancy in salience between good luck and bad.  We don’t worry that we might have success or win the lottery; we worry that the roof might leak or we might have a serious car accident.  Adverse events often demand our prompt attention and our action, whereas benefits do not.  If your car won’t start, you need to do something to get where you need to go, whereas receiving a salary increase doesn’t demand an immediate response.  Primed to notice and to be prepared for adverse events, we are more likely to develop beliefs about causes of misfortune and to entertain ideas of how to prevent or avoid misfortune.

While superstitious beliefs can be conscious or subliminal cognitions, someone can learn to fearhappiness on an emotional level, without any accompanying set of beliefs.  For example, classical conditioning is one simple learning dynamic that can account for an acquired fear of being happy.  Imagine listening to your favorite music in the car, happily looking forward to dinner with friends, and then without warning being broadsided by an out of control vehicle.  The next time you listen to music in your car, you feel the nervous sense of some unknown impending harm.  Or you’re happily wrapping presents for a special occasion when the phone rings with news of the death of someone you love.  A number of such sequences can condition someone to anticipate misfortune when feeling happy.  A person can experience such an association without being aware of the process by which it developed.  Conditioning does not depend upon rational thought, but upon timing and the order of events.  Someone can fear being happy without any understandingof why or knowing how that fear was acquired.  Logically, we know that being happy doesn’t cause adversity to ourselves or others, but conditioned associations are not the product of logical reasoning.

Such a dynamic doesn’t just rob someone of the joy that would normally accompany good events.  It can evolve into a pattern of avoiding happy occasions and ultimately avoiding happiness itself to avoid the anxiety that comes with it.  Such a development can result in a self-perpetuating process of feeling safer in sadness or worry and sustaining the negative mood rather than taking the risk of happiness that might bring on adversity.

For others, happiness has become associated with guilt.  Joy is accompanied by the sense that it is wrong to be happy while others are or have suffered.  Like fear, guilt can become conditioned by life events.  Receiving or remembering bad news about a loved one while celebrating an achievement, enjoying a hike on a beautiful day, or having a pleasant lunch with a friend can result in feeling guilty about being happy when someone else suffers. Knowing that feeling guilty about being happy makes no sense and does nothing to alleviate the suffering of another isn’t enough to eliminate the acquired response.  But what is learned can be changed.

The same process that developed the association can modify it.  The link between joy and fear or guilt can be broken gradually.  Scheduling times of simple pleasures such as gardening on a sunny day to be followed by short periods of quiet reflection or a friendly conversation can begin replacing the joy-fear connection with joy-calm. Being happy for the sake of others, rather than for ourselves, can break a cycle of anxiety and unhappiness.   A positive disposition has positive impacts on other people.  A compliment can lift another’s mood, and optimism can instill hope.  Noticing how our happiness benefits others helps us move beyond the bonds that stifle joy with fear or guilt.  We can’t control our emotions by demanding them to comply with logical reasoning, but constructive thinking can guide our awareness and our behaviors to take advantage of opportunities to acquire healthy happiness associations.  Shedding the fear and guilt enriches not only our own life, but also the lives of others.  Spreading joy is justification enough to free us from anxiety or guilt.

By Psychology today

If you are ready to take the first step to be happy click here

Maybe you are scared of happiness

Are you afraid to be happy? It was a simple question with a simple answer. Of course I wasn’t afraid to be happy. Everyone in this world is fighting to find their forever happiness. But as the question started to seep into my brain and I looked at the source of the question, someone I loved more than anything, I realized it was valid. And the more it simmered the more I started to realize that maybe I am scared of happiness. I guess it’s because we’re taught to look for the next best thing. So as soon as anything feels like settling to me something internally starts to make me panic. It makes me panic so much that I start to self-sabotage. And it sounds dumb. It sounds so dumb that I allow myself to ruin my own happiness but I do it daily. I do it so much that my own friends feel like they’re watching a car crash they can’t intervene to stop. I know many people who are happy. They’re content. And I envy them. I am jealous of their happiness. But mostly I’m jealous that they can feel true and unadulterated happiness. The kind that makes you feel like you’re walking on air. And they let themselves be loved. Because even though I love people and tell them I love them on a regular basis, receiving love isn’t something I’m good at. Being afraid to be happy sounds stupid. It sounds like something I’m actively fighting against. It sounds like I’m a big coward who isn’t willing to let themselves feel content. Someone who constantly has to keep moving because as soon as the mundane sets in is when the depression gets kicked into over drive. Maybe it’s because I’m craving something more for my life. Maybe. But really it’s because I am a coward. I’m too much of a coward to tell someone I love them. I’m too much of a coward leave a situation I hate. I’m too much of a coward to start over one more time. I’m too much of a coward to admit to failure yet again. Because if I’m being honest, truly honest, I am completely and utterly terrified to be happy. I am so scared of someone actually loving me back. I’m scared that I’ll wake up every day excited to start my day. I’m scared I’ll look in the mirror and love the person staring back at me. And that doesn’t make sense. Why that would scare me. But it does. It is a complete horror film to me that one day I could actually be happy. What does happy even mean anymore? Is it love? Is it passion? Is it money? Is it all three rolled into one? What it truly boils down to is my inability to see what I’m worth. And that’s the scariest sentence I’ve ever put into the universe. I am completely unsure of what I’m worth anymore. Because when I was a kid I was reminded I wasn’t good enough. My first love told me I was only good for one thing. And that was a sentiment that was repeated relationship after relationship. It’s been hammered into my head when I’m passed over for a promotion. It’s what I feel every time I do something that makes me unsure if it’s good enough. If I’m good enough. So when I sabotage myself for the 50th time, it reminds me that I am, 100 percent, not worth much. But I do it to myself. No one is doing it to me. No one has been whispering ‘you’re worthless’ as I stand in the mirror every morning. No one but my own mind. And that’s sad. It’s sad that I can admit that I am completely afraid to be happy. It’s sad that I look to sabotage my own life so I can tell myself I told you so. It’s heartbreaking that knowing I do this and continuing to do it. It’s something I feel like I’m not sure I can control anymore. If you’re afraid to be happy, if you’re not sure what your worth is, if you’re struggling with self-sabotage: the first step is to getting over it is admitting it. The second step is remembering you deserve to be happy. It’s hard work to rebuild yourself after feeling completely destroyed. But I know if I can do it, so can you. So start this journey to self-love and start today. It’s got to be better than this. So don’t be afraid of being happy. Be afraid of never loving yourself. Take the first step and never look back to the person who’s too afraid to find true happiness.

Source: By Alexandria Brown

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