03 Jan Happiness Is a Choice. Don’t Let “Fear of Happiness” Control You
You Might Be Blocking Happiness and Not Even Know It!
If you were raised in an unpredictable, volatile or drug-and-alcohol addicted home, you may have developed a Fear of Happiness.
In my family of origin, I learned that happiness, fun and gaiety could be swiftly followed by rage and/or withdrawal. As a result, I unconsciously began to fear Happiness, because sometimes it was followed by pain.
I also unconsciously attracted relationships that kept me in low-grade misery; a state of worry, anxiety and control, partly because I was fearful of too much good coming into my life. Then I’d actually have something to lose!
After working 12-step recovery, I fell in love with an emotionally available, kind man who was head over heels for me. This is when things got worse.
The happier I was in the relationship, the more terrified I became that something awful would happen to my love. I’d never felt so exposed and vulnerable.
How Do You Know if You’re Staying in a Toxic Relationship Because You’re Afraid to Be Happy?
Answer these questions:
1. When something good happens, do you downplay it because you worry the universe will take it away, or balance it out with something painful?
The cause of this might stem from being physically or emotionally abandoned by one of our important caregivers.
2. Do you feel shame when someone is kind to you, or something good happens to you, because you feel you’re not worthy?
When we were children, someone might’ve criticized us, and those voices live in our unconscious mind; constantly undermining our ability to feel worthy of love and happiness.
3. Were you taught Happiness is associated with laziness?
Many of us come from families where we’ve learned that if we’re happy we must be goofing off, not working hard enough, or not taking life seriously. Workaholism was our main value.
Happiness is a Choice. Choose It As a New Value!
Below is a photo of me with my husband of sixteen years, because marrying him was the happiest choice I’ve ever made.
Yet, I still have nightmares we’ve been separated; that I can’t find him; can’t dial the numbers on my phone to reach him; or that he doesn’t love me anymore.
One day we will be separated by death. It’s inevitable. But, I have to train myself not to push him away, or enact barriers to protect me from that inevitability.
Guarding myself against misery by shoving away happiness will not make the misery any less painful when we one day part. So I’m practicing happiness. Tentatively allowing myself to feel it — even if it scares the ever-loving shit out of me.
How I Am Reprogramming My Unconscious Brain To Get More Comfortable With Happiness
1. Noticing Self-Loathing To Vanquish It
The other day, after spending money on myself for something I didn’t need, I was awash in self-loathing and I noticed it.
I made myself come up with one of my good qualities and speak it aloud, as if I were a kind friend to myself. I said, “Shannon, I’m so proud of you. You try so hard. Nobody tries harder than you do.”
Sometimes healing self-loathing happens from the outside in.
2. Become extravagant in showing your love to those closest to you, instead of finding fault or trying to fix and control them.
I try to catch myself when I’m nitpicking my loved ones. I realize my need to fix and control keep happiness at bay; so I try to embrace my children when they annoy me; tell them they’re beautiful when they really could use a shower.
My husband is the easiest to nitpick. So I’ve begun the practice of connecting with him before bed time; looking into his eyes and talking before we turn out the lights; telling him what a wonderful husband and father he is when I’d rather ask him to stop eating so much bread.
3. I’m working on imbedding a belief in my unconscious that when I’m happy I’m actually accomplishing more in life than when I’m miserable.
Joy was highly suspect in my family of origin. Work and earning was valued above all. This is a value I’m trying to shed. Fun and play are very important activities. Allowing ourselves to be happy makes the world a better place.
4. I no longer have people in my life who inflame my codependency and control issues.
I used codependency and control to buffer myself against the pain of loss. Loss is inevitable; Happiness is a choice.
Don’t Turn the Pursuit of Happiness Into Another Thing to Beat Yourself Up About.
Happiness cannot be a persistent state of being. Like all feelings, it just pops up along the way, so we have to guard against feeling like failures when we can’t achieve perpetual bliss.
The idea here is to stop pushing Happiness away. To embrace it when it knocks on our doors by learning to embrace ourselves.
If you believe you’re in a relationship that’s keeping you busy with control and codependence so you can avoid a Fear of Happiness — I have two great books I can recommend below.
In the meantime remember:
Happiness isn’t the end game. Spiritual progress (not perfection) is the goal.
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Amazon Customer 28 reviewer writes:
“I loved this book! It demystifies codependency and why some women have such a hard time leaving emotionally abusive relationships.
“Shannon offers practical, actionable tasks to overcome love addiction and doles it out with a refreshing sense of humor. I highly recommend this book to anyone preoccupied with changing or controlling their partner.
“I have recommended this book to my girlfriends who are struggling with their relationships. The author is inspiring and I enjoyed the book so much that I read it again soon after.”