Why happiness scares me

내 바로 뒤의 행복



a morbid aversion to cheerfulness.

In other words, a fear of happiness.

I never knew such a thing existed. All my life, I’d say it out loud and think I was a fool. That I was the odd one out in this vast world, complaining about something ridiculous. I’d see people with smiles from ear to ear, laughing so hard they would choke. I’d see people with tears of joy streaming down their cheeks. Then I’d enter my room, lower the shutters, sit in the dark with my back to the door, and just close my eyes, contemplating. Why would I only choke on sadness, but not on laughter? Why would I only have tears of despair streaming down my cheeks, but not of joy? Why could I not embrace something that people took for granted?

I now realise that it’s not the prospect of happiness that I fear, or happiness itself.

Rather, part of me believes that whenever I’m happy, something bad will always happen. Much like being punished. I begin to question why I’m happy, and whether my feelings are valid or I’m just simply in a hysterical state. I question whether I’m truly worthy of this happiness, and if I deserve it. When my efforts to understand my own emotions turn out to be futile, I wait for my impending doom. And it usually happens. Always. It’s become ingrained in my mind to prepare for the worst.

For many of us, it all comes down to the lack of self-love. We feel as though we’re a burden to anyone and everyone. We feel as though we are inferior. We feel as though we can never please others. And because we constantly berate ourselves, we conclude that we are undeserving of happiness. Often we forget that happiness doesn’t have a price, and that it doesn’t need to be justified. We forget that sadness isn’t eternal and we have the permission to feel happy too. But somehow, we have convinced ourselves of the opposite. Hence, whenever the slightest of smiles spread across our face, we demand to know the answers to when, how and why we feel this way, and before we know it, that fleeting moment has already passed, never to return.

We become so bogged down in a negative headspace that it is beyond our capabilities to truly feel pure happiness.

We tell ourselves that we can never experience true happiness if our mind is filled with dark thoughts. We tell ourselves to solve all our problems before stepping out and laughing the nights away. We tell ourselves that we must exert positive energy to those around us. And when we can’t, we dread returning back to that twisted state of mind. Soon, it becomes an endless cycle of euphoria and sadness, over and over again. It’s exhausting, upsetting, and painful.

But things don’t always have to be this way.

Just like a tide lapping at the water’s edge, happiness comes and goes. So does sadness. We need to start believing that this happiness is a gift, and that we should treasure it wholeheartedly without worrying about the consequences. We need to understand that moments of happiness won’t last forever, and therefore moments of sadness won’t too. Just as we are so caught up on the thought of deserving sadness, we need to tell ourselves that there needs to be room for happiness too. We need to trust ourselves that whatever we’re feeling is genuine, and cherish every single second of it.

I know how hard it is to rid your mind of thoughts you have basically grown up with your entire life. But just as happiness passes, so too will your sadness. And so too will these thoughts.


Artwork by 애뽈 (Grafolio)








10 thoughts on “Why happiness scares me

  1. evanaweb says:

    Yes, I experience something similar… Every time I would get too happy, I would get anxious as well… It would make me so frustrated. It made me believe that I couldn’t be happy, like normal people.. Now I have realized that I could only accept my happiness through accepting my anxiety. My anxiety is there to anxiety to warn not to get my hopes too high, in fear of getting disappointed later. Whether I liked it or not, it’s there. Once I started accepting my anxiety more , and the role it has, the more I was able to let happiness flow more freely, at least in my own special way 🙂 Everyone experiences happiness differently, and that’s okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Susi Bocks says:

    Recently saw an article of this state of being, it struck a nerve with me. I’ve frequently felt that there are fewer periods of happiness in my life where before there were more. I blamed it on life giving me more responsibility, and also, an overly-critical upbringing so I naturally didn’t feel like I was deserving of goodness in my life. Your piece illustrates much of what I do to myself in my head. I thank you for giving me some ideas to change that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dweezer19 says:

    So true. At times I find myself dreading the happy times because they are almost always devoured soon by some tragedy. Like a punishment. It’s terrible.like never expecting too much lest I am disappointed. Arggggghhh…..it’s one thing to acknowledge it and another thing to fix it. 😏

    Liked by 1 person

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