Happiness is one of those feelings that is hard to find. When you do find it, the feeling can lead to a long time of happiness or a short time due to something bad happening at the end of it.
The fear of being happy due to something bad happening is more common than people think for many reasons. A common one is because we like to seek out happiness rather than letting it find us. It could be the cause or it may not be the cause.
My anxiety and depression isn’t caused by a fear of happiness. It is caused by stressful events in my past. I do think my recovery is hard due to my fear of happiness because I am too used to having anxiety and depression. In a way, I feel like I am forcing myself to stay in poor mental health.
I avoid going to events with family because of my fear of being around a lot of people. I don’t talk to people or hang out with people because I’m scared things will end bad. I stay home alone because I feel safe instead of trying to meet people. I don’t participate in activities because I am afraid of embarrassing myself or getting bullied. All of these things are fun but I associate them with bad things happening.
Anxiety is having a lot of negative thoughts and worries. In a way our minds can be our enemy in recovery.
In 2013, the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology published a paper explaining this. Researchers in New Zealand and England did a study to identify the correlations or connections of fear of happiness. They found that people who identified happiness with with disappointment, laziness or a traumatic event avoided going to social events and doing certain things that used to make them happy.
The negative association to positive events also takes priority to future positive events. An example is when you graduate high school, you lost someone important to you. When you later graduate university, you won’t be happy because all you can think about is how you almost didn’t make it to graduation because you almost failed one class.
The best way to overcome this is to change your thinking about these events. Make a list of all things that could go wrong. Why do you feel the way that you do about it? Next, make a list of how you can make it better. What could you do during that situation?
For example, I was scared to go to my sisters wedding. I was her bridesmaid. I had to stand in front of many people and attend the reception. I was so scared and didn’t want to be there. To make it more bearable, I made a list of things to help. If I was ever overwhelmed with all the people, I could always step outside to get a break. I could have played on my phone or message someone. Everyone’s attention is on the bride and groom and not me. This was extremely helpful in making it a little easier.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you tried this before and found it helpful?