And this is one big note-to-self here. I feel fear just writing this post.
I’m scared of being happy. There, I’ve said it out loud.
I keep myself from becoming too happy as fear comes up, it feels risky. Dangerous.
It’s the same for success.
At least when you’re not happy, and not too successful, there isn’t too far to fall!
It’s not that I’m depressed, but I do notice that I put the breaks on, or do something to sabotage my happiness or success when things get ‘too’ good.
I have a month of eating healthy, not drinking and losing weight and I feel really good about myself. I enjoy that for a few days and then I eat too much unhealthy food and drink too much and the good feeling dissipates, I feel guilty and the weight goes back on.
The weight isn’t the issue though, its just one aspect of many that ‘doing well’ and being good to myself means to me.
Then I earn really good money and love the feeling of that, the self esteem the reward for my hard work and I enjoy it. Then I take a highly risky project on and lose a lot of money.
This is a pattern.
So over the last few years I’ve been using techniques to ease myself gently into notching up the level Of joy and success I will allow myself.
I realise that some somewhere in my life, possibly from childhood, I put an upper limit on what I would allow myself. On what I feel I deserve. On what I will allow without feeling guilty.
And so I seesaw over and over.
So what have I been doing about it?
- Whenever I am enjoying something, no matter how small, I linger in it, I relish it, I say to myself ‘this feels good an I feel safe’.
- Self compassion. I walk along or drive along and I wish myself well. I say over and over ‘May I be happy, may I be well, may I be at ease’. I am gentle on myself with this stuff, and aware that painful core beliefs underlay the behaviour. So tenderness is appropriate, the way I would feel towards a friend or a child.
- I take actions that are healthy for me. I have an extra comfy bed with a thick down mattress cover for a very comfy long sleep. I go to bed early. I listen to empowering audiobooks. I exercise in the park twice a day and enjoy being in nature. I take rests when I need them. I forgive myself quickly.
- I observe happy or successful people and I feel happy for them and acknowledge that it’s okay for them to be happy and successful. And it’s okay for me too then.
- I have seen a therapist to examine where this self limiting reaction comes from. The unworthiness, the parental influences, the guilt, the lack of happy role models, lots in there. It’s been useful and just by shining awareness on these origins sets a process of healing in place. I’ve just written to another to take the process further.
- I have started to encourage myself. I respond well to encouragement and have almost none coming from other people. I don’t feel comfortable asking for it either. So I’m learning to encourage myself. I write a list of what I’m doing well and congratulate myself about those things. I’m going to write another post right after this on that.
- Gratitude. This is the biggest healing and encouraging action that I have discovered so far. It allows me to acknowledge all the wonderful aspects of my life. And more than that to pause and relish them. To allow them. To give myself permission to have them. It’s gentle too, and encourages appreciation.
It’s not a straight line raising the upper limit or thermostat that we have had imposed on us and that we now impose on ourselves. It can feel like 3 steps forward 2 steps back at times.
There can be a ‘backdraft’ as we step out of the comfort zone, meaning that we unconsciously find ourselves regressing to familiar ground temporarily. If we know this though, we can forgive ourselves and be kind and keep going with the process.
I have found that, little by little, I have been allowing greater happiness and success into my life. It’s small steps, and I honour that this is how it is for me, and that is okay.
I’d love to hear your experiences of this process if you feel like sharing.