What if Joy is Scary


What if you’re not used to it and it’s a more than a bit scary. Often it’s unconsciously scary and we do things to keep it away without realising.

People can unwittingly keep themselves at their current level of unhappiness because they aren’t used to anything else. Maybe they feel they don’t deserve it or wouldn’t be able to handle it or how they would express it in their lives.

This is an aspect of growth that I do not feel is given nearly enough attention.

Yes we all say we want to be happier.

Yet those of us in a situation with a daily struggle with anxiety, the strife of constant low moods, the habit of being tough on ourselves and self critical – unhappiness becomes the comfort zone, despite its discomfort.

It’s familiar. And familiar to those around us who often don’t really encourage or welcome changes in us. It might even require we alter who we have around us, or change our job, our habits.

The familiar can be preferable to the anxiety that comes along with even contemplating the unfamiliar new territory of happiness, self compassion, closeness to others, success, wellbeing, and inner peace if it’s not our norm.

What can often happen is that we can block and resist changes that lead to greater wellbeing. Sabotage our progress without even realising we are doing it.

What I have started doing with my psychotherapy clients is to address as soon as possible any sense of threat that arises when they contemplate breaking free from their prison of being miserable, anxious, depressed.

We can start to look (with professional help if necessary) at the beliefs we have about being successful and happy and the causes of those beliefs. Many many people simply do not believe they deserve the good things in life, for example.

Keeping wellbeing and success away were usually not chosen by us, at least not consciously. We might automatically attract the same as it’s what we were shown. A couple of examples:

  • If brought up by parents who didn’t get along then a harmonious loving close relationship is something that doesn’t come like second nature to us.
  • If we were brought up in poverty, becoming successful can be scary and new and we are not sure how to be with it. It can threaten the identity we have constructed.

Perhaps we can learn how thriving/being successful/happy/ feels and learn to express that even if it’s not our normal way of being.

Perhaps we can learn to sooth the threat detection system to the extent that we allow more peace, joy and fun in.

That’s what I’m busy with all the time. Learning to feel safe with great love, joy and wellbeing after being addicted to struggle and pain.

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