Thursday, March 1, 2012

Are You Afraid of Happiness?

You are all afraid to get caught being happy with  the wrong thing. --Bruce Di Marsico, founder of the Option Method.

Undetected like a stealth bomber, fear of happiness strikes when you least expect it. Since the fear of happiness is rarely recognized, it blocks an untold number of potentially wonderful experiences.

One reason I love teaching live workshops so much is the wisdom and insight the participants share during
and long after our time together.

This courageous message about fear of happiness comes from Andrea Schwarb, a coach who specializes in
simple, authentic living and professional resilience. She attended the Breakout Coach Training in Palm Springs last October.

"...false beliefs keep creeping in:
  • If I am happy, I will be leaving the ones that I love.
  • If I am happy, some people will feel abandoned, and they might want to kill themselves.
  • If I am happy, others will try to knock me down at the knees.
  • If I am happy, it won't last.
  • I am not one of those types of people who can sustain happiness.
  • Only others can be happy.
  • If I am happy, some people will think "ewww....there's one of those happy people - can't be true - must be inauthentic"
  • If I am happy, some may try to take me down, and I may have hurt feelings.
  • If my feelings are hurt, I might cry, and then they will make fun of me and humiliate me for crying - for being a crybaby. 
I feel scared. Depression and despair are things I have always lived with. They are painful, but I know them well. They are like my security blanket. (strange, I know - picturing a stinky,dark "known" security blanket) - like THAT is keeping me safe and secure!
  • I am afraid that if I am happy all of the time, I will lose touch with reality.
  • I will be manic.
  • I will scare people.
I want to continue on this journey of exploring what I enjoy, what pleases me, what I am happy doing. I
want to keep practicing self-authorization. And I want a good, cozy night's sleep."
A few weeks later Andrea reported that she was feeling happy, grateful, getting more hours in an interesting job, and beginning a new relationship. Woo Hoo!
Amazing, how discovering hidden fears and finding the beliefs that hold them in place can lead to a breakout
from a prison you may not even know confines you.
It takes some courage. It's good to have someone to cheer you on. It's wonderful to share the freedom and create new experiences.

Have you broken out from a prison of fear?
Your story can inspire others.

Are you stuck in fear? Especially fear of happiness?
Sharing your fear can open the door for a breakout.

Resource for overcoming fear of happiness: "Emotional Options: A Handbook for Happiness


  1. Hi Mandy,

    You are the top of my priority list to share my success with happiness. Thanks for sharing your audio, and video and books.

    Day by day I am becoming more and more happier. Finding the blocks to my happiness is becoming such an exciting experience. When my currently familiar feeling of happiness is suddenly fading away, I am conscious enough to ask what went through my mind or to connect the incident with it's immediate effect on me. And this habit has helped me to reveal the blocks. Here are some of them:-

    - It's not acceptable to be happy while my finances are below my set standards

    - If I am happy, then I lose my drive to achieve my goal.

    - Unhappiness about undesired outcome or results in my life leads to finding a solution to get desired outcome or to rectify it. If I am happy now , I won’t be able to change the results in my life that I decided to change or improve.

    - Happiness is for babies or children who do not know the reality of the world and not for me - a grown up! I have got to be serious - be a man. If I express happiness, people won’t take me seriously. People might think I‘ve got childish behaviour.

    - I can't be happy while paying money, it's a painful bit. ---

    - There must be a reason to be happy. To be happy , I need to have or be or do something.

    - I can't be happy until I achieve my goal (Goodness me! This belief used to leave a huge pain gap)

    Let me finalize with a recent incident which used to create a suicidal type of feeling but now it is completely powerless in affecting my happiness in any way or form.
    Recently when me , my wife, her mom and a friend went back to the car park, we found out that my parking ticket had run out and I was given a penalty notice and it was attached on the wind screen. I picked it up and said “lesson learned" and my wife was very unhappy about it, not on me but the whole penalty bit. It didn't surprise me that this incident didn't fade away my happiness. While in the car going back to home my wife kept telling her mom and our friend that I always won’t get upset in incidents that would make people upset normally. And it is true but it hasn't been always true. I remember how some incidents used to create so much pain and unhappiness. This made me realize that I have come a long way. I am no more the person that I was. And I am so grateful for that.

    I guess happiness is ours to keep, but if it is lost there is a work to be done. And the work is exciting , it is like finding the way back home.

    Thanks Mandy,

    Here is to happy living
    Ensermu Workneh

    1. Thanks for this thought provoking post, Ensermu.

  2. A belief that I've had to work on quite a bit is,

    "I am afraid that if I am happy all of the time, I will be too arrogant."

    1. What have you noticed, Steve? Do you get arrogant when you ar happy? I don't think I;ve ever seen an arrogant person who seemed happy at the moment-of-arrogance.

  3. A belief that I am constantly fighting is "I am not worthy of happiness". Wow! That is a tough one to overcome. I feel this because I ended a 20 + year marriage and tore my family apart... I am now trying to find happiness in a new town with a huge new job..and this keeps coming up for me.

    1. Robin, have you seen the YouTube video, "Deserving Is A Bogus Issue?" There's a link on my website,

    2. Thanks Mandy, I will watch it. I am working hard on deserving, but I hit a snag recently and it is rearing it's ugly head. When I actually try to visualize that someone could love me.

  4. All of the above, but fading away with every passing day. Sometimes slow, sometimes faster, but the outcome is there, finding myself to give me a hug and a loud 'good job to yourself gorgeous thing." Hugs to all, and loud keep going, you are almost there!

  5. Ensermu, love the prayer "lesson learned". One of my spiritual advisers reminds me that we often treat minor incidents in life as if they are life and death matters. My response to a parking ticket needs to be different than to a hazardous chemical spill in my front yard. One is an emergency and one is not. One requires my dialing 911 and one does not. And neither needs affect my happiness on an inordinate manner.

    1. Thanks Ward. Yes! We have this complicated system on file that sorts things in a precieved order of seriousness so we'll know how unhappy to be -- how angry to feel, how gulity etc. And we do it so fast, without ever being aware of it.

  6. Thank you for writing this. I am often stuck in this rut.
    Many of the reasons you gave for being afraid of happiness come into my daily life.
    The biggest one is fear of change.
    I have lived like this for 5 years now, and I think I have depression. But no matter how hard life gets, I am afraid to go to anyone, because I am afraid my life will change. I am afraid my fears will be confirmed.
    I don't know if this made sense...

    Thank you for this!


Your thoughts, insights, news, and questions are welcome!