The Fear of Feeling Good
Have you ever had the experience of feeling good, and then something happened that caused you hurt or disappointment?
It could have been that:
- Someone said or didn’t say something.
- Someone did or didn’t do something.
- You said or didn’t say something.
- You did or didn’t do something.
Whatever that something was, it caused you distress. When one or more of these occurrences happen, your subconscious associates feeling good with bad things. And you may find that whenever an opportunity to feel good comes up, you are hesitant to embrace it.
The association that “bad things happen when we feel good” is a conclusion made in our formative years and stored in our subconscious. Subconsciously, you may feel afraid to feel good or wonder, worry, and wait for something to go wrong.
Here is an example of how the brain pairs an event with the conclusion that “bad things happen when you feel good.”
A child was looking forward to a wonderful birthday party their mother had planned. On the morning of the party, their parents had a terrible argument which ruined the whole day. When this child grows up, they don’t remember the incident. Still, every year when their birthday comes along, they become anxious, worry over all the details of the party, or decide not to have a party at all because they feel what is supposed to feel good will only turn to anxiety and disappointment. And they don’t know why they can’t relax and enjoy their birthday.
Fears and worries are patterns of thinking that can be debilitating, keeping you awake at night and holding you back from the good things in life that you want for yourself. They can be immobilizing, leaving you unable to function, make decisions, or enjoy your birthday.
We block our own happiness out of fear, a fear that’s been hidden in our past and one that was established in childhood. Once we know this, there’s an opening to discover that we can change that pattern and take the next steps to set us on the path of feeling good about feeling good.
What You Can Do…
As the smart, capable, resourceful adult you are today, take some time to identify familiar patterns where you are afraid to feel good. It could be a saying, a belief, or maybe a memory that comes to mind. I’m happy to tell you there is something you can do to replace that pattern with one that opens you up to feeling good without fear. Just by acknowledging the pattern, you reduce the power of the fear to negatively influence your experience. Then you can begin to think of what you can do to replace the pattern.
Think about a recent situation where you had that dreaded feeling. Perhaps you said, “it’s too good to be true,” and downplayed or even avoided the experience. Or, you felt fear or anxiety, waiting to be hurt or disappointed, “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Or something similar.
What could have happened for me to feel afraid of feeling good?
Here are some examples of what might have happened in your past that is stuck in your subconscious and keeps you from feeling good today:
1. Someone says or doesn’t say something.
It’s common for children to embed hurtful, judgmental comments that have been said to them: You’re too: fat, skinny, tall, short, stupid, worthless, and so on.
The things that don’t get said can have the same hurtful effect, such as not getting approval for an accomplishment you’re so proud of; being excluded or ignored by someone important to you; yearning for a parent or a friend to give you encouragement for something that’s really hard for you.
2. Someone does or doesn’t do something.
Being passed over unfairly by a teacher or boss; being forbidden to study music because your parents want you to become a lawyer. Or something more serious like being physically harmed or abandoned.
3. You say or don’t say something.
You get in trouble for saying something your parents or teacher thought was rude; you don’t speak up because you fear being misunderstood.
4. You do or don’t do something.
You’re constantly corrected for your behavior, so you believe you are “bad;” you make an innocent mistake and are blamed for just trying to help; you don’t measure up in school and lack accomplishments.
Replacing the Pattern of Fear of Feeling Good
Now that you have acknowledged one or more causes of how your fear of feeling good got created, it’s time to consider feeling good.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What if I don’t need to be worried about a repeat of the past, and I could have positive experiences and feel good?
- What would my life be like if I wasn’t afraid to feel good?
- What would have to change, or what would I need to do differently to feel good?
Listen for insights, journal your responses, or talk to someone you trust about your thoughts.
Here’s to feeling good!