The syndrome of happiness phobia

Life is full of memorable events. You just get stuck in your routine and you forget how joyful was your wedding day, how you felt the first time you met your kids, how much fun you had during your first holiday with your best friends… You are so numb to your own happiness that you feel you have to long for something else that is not there to feel the intensity that keeps you alive, the high that makes you feel breathless, you wait for the unexpected to make your heart skip a beat, even just that one night stand with your handsome work colleague, despite you don’t really want to cheat on your partner.
Though it is all there, under your nose, your husband that comes home every night safe and sound, the smell of your kids when they want a cuddle in your bed at 6.30am, your best friend phone call during lunch break to vent something, drinks with bubbly work colleagues that appreciate you for who you are…
Why then? Why do we have to look for something else, why the extra glass of wine to feel a bit drunker, hence a bit freer to be ourselves or to forget what is really happening? Where does this dissatisfaction starts, when do we stop feeling what we have is so fulfilling itself, when do we start to constantly desire what isn’t there?

There are so many amazing things happening in my life at the moment that I feel overjoyed, blessed, grateful, excited, content, yet weird at the same time.
The start of this blog is one of them (I really feel I have finally found who I really am, almost professionally speaking, as I am fulfilling my attitudes and my natural skills); my new luxurious flat (I feel like waking up in a 4 starts hotel every morning with my en-suite with high pressure in the shower and my balcony with my view); one of my best friends hen do in Barcelona (first time in Spain for me and first break in a year from the hard 24/7 job of motherhood); my son accepted in our dream primary school, one of the best of Lambeth (I have accepted the space, yet deep inside me I am still waiting to hear there was a mistake and he cannot be allocated there…)

The truth is I have the impression I don’t feel I deserve all of this. I have in fact recently realized I am ashamed to tell people when I am going through a very happy moment in my life (set aside my aunt’s terminal illness that seems to have paused for now in the last couple of weeks). It is as if what others are going through was more important than my own life and how could I dare to show off when they are maybe going through a bad period, or even an average one. And unfortunately I catch myself passing it on my kids when I ask them not to shout despite they are super excited about a new toy as they may disturb the neighbors, the most important thing not to do in my first instict 😦
I also fear that too much happiness can only come with a price to pay, so surely something terrible is going to happen to me, I better be prepared dreading the worst coming in the near future rather than enjoying the best of what’s happening today!

Not only all of the above, I even struggle to believe that a lot of good things are coming my way all at the same time. For instance when I had a meeting with the estate agent 2 weeks before leaving the flat I have rented for nearly 10 years. The days prior to it I literally killed myself to clean it and make the place look as most wonderful as possible (considering it’s an out of date Victorian flat in great need of refurbishment). The marketing agent had a look around and was impressed by the way we had kept the flat as if it was our own (totally normal to me as I had to live in it, despite I have often heard of horror stories of tenants leaving the place as a refugees camp). Yet the following day I felt the urge to send an e-mail to his colleague who usually carries out inspections in a thorougher way to ask if he wanted to come along as well to give us any instructions to make sure we could get our full deposit back. The guy replied straight away saying he had had a long chat with his colleague and they were both very happy with the way we had kept the place and that the deposit would definitively be returned in full so I should really enjoy my last two weeks living there and stop worrying. I could not believe it, it had gone too well, too easily, I was expecting struggles, fighting, complications, as if life is only a dark place to be in, so I was almost self sabotaging for it to feel more real and more normal to me, hence truthful to my negative expectations.

Clearly I have a problem with what joy is, when it comes and how it feels like. Can I say why I picked up, probably from a very young age, it is not OK to be really happy? If I look back at my parents and their defeating life styles I remember them being extremely uptight on going out and celebrating things. I remember them being always very catastrophic, always planning for the worst and never hoping for the best. I look at them with a lot of sadness as being unable to feel happy for themselves and not knowing how to deal with that only bubbly little girl full of energy and enthusiasm that came to stay with them from the day of her birth after 10 years of flat couple life. I don’t blame them whatsoever, I actually feel sorry for them as they have had their time and they won’t have a chance to change how they used it.

All I can do is break the chain today and not be that unjustified miserable mum, wife, friend and work colleague for myself and the people that love me around me.
I actually truly believe now that life is a lot about what you make of it (as it says in my friend Rose’s beautiful song ‘High rise buildings and satellites‘) so if you look at it in a positive way and are grateful for the things you have you start feeling much more joy. Of course you cannot control important events such as health and finances but you can also let go and believe that the God of your understanding as a plan for you and will look after you so you will find a way to survive, you will find strength to grieve if need be.

If like me, you struggle to be positive and tend to always notice the dark side of things more than the happy moments, here is my top 3 tips that really helped me change attitude, as you will not believe it but joy can actually be learned by training your heart with the right gym membership lol!

1) Gratitude list. Start writing every day with constancy a list of things you are grateful for the day that is just about to end. It will teach you to focus on the good things and actually realize some potential in your life you may not have even noticed before. You can begin with a short list until you get better at it and really enjoy finding your little moment in the evening to do it so you won’t even realize you are writing more and more positive things of your day.

2) Positive affirmations. This is an amazing tool if you keep on feeling guilty for no particular reason and helps to re-balance your soul on the fact that you deserve to be happy. Below are a few powerful ones for me:

  • I deserve to live a happy, successful life.
  • I deserve the good things that happen in my life.
  • In this moment, I trust myself.
  • I have the ability to accomplish, I am competent.
  • I can handle it, whatever it is.
  • Every uncomfortable situation has a solution.
  • I can allow myself ample leisure time without feeling guilty.
  • The stress of work has no affect on how I feel about myself.
  • I deserve a break.

3) Learn to let go. This is the toughest one, especially if like me you have been a control freak for most of your life. Letting go means even simply don’t mind if the traffic light is turning red and you are actually exremely late so you wished the bus driver accelerated instead of slowing down and the all context brings you unnecessary anger. You are not the master of the universe, you cannot control events and it would not have made it any better, you are running late anyway. If it means you will loose a job or a promotion, don’t feel guilty, what is done is done such as leaving home too late. Think it this way instead: maybe it was not meant for you and better horizons are awaiting around the corner. Simply let your higher power (a God of your understanding, whatever you want it to be, not necessarily associated to a particular faith, just someone above you with a plan for your life – a sort of parent for grown ups let’s say 🙂 ) lead the way to your happiness… Believe me, it works amazingly with me ❤

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